Is Traditional Corporate Hierarchy “So Last Year?”

Meghan-Maher by

Earlier this month it was released that Zappos will be doing away with traditional managers and implementing a concept of “holacracy” into their company. While they are not the first company to adopt holacracy, they are certainly the biggest and are garnering the most press around the transition. The simple definition of holacracy is a distributed authority system. “Unlike conventional top-down or progressive bottom-up approaches, it integrates the benefits of both without relying on parental heroic leaders. Everyone becomes a leader of their roles and a follower of others’, processing tensions with real authority and real responsibility, through dynamic governance and transparent operations” (

So, Is Holacracy the Way of the Future?

While Zappos plans to have the concept fully up and running by the end of 2014, and will be a great case study into whether or not this method is supportive of company and employee growth, I am not so sure everyone should go into the office tomorrow and get rid of the management hierarchy. Here’s why: It forces leadership on everyone when not everyone is meant to be or wants to be a “leader”. While most companies hire top talent based on skills as well as leadership potential, not all are. There are some roles within companies where people are content where they are and doing what they are doing. Those people may fail in a holocratic environment because it doesn’t provide the kind of leadership, guidance, and security that close oversight provides. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who strive to be leaders and want management responsibility. An environment without management may not appeal to them because they equate career progression with gaining management experience and having direct reports working under them. It also complicates communication. Having one leader or manager for each team helps streamline communication to the group.  This leader represents the group in various meetings, etc. and is able to relay any pertinent information directly to the team as it is discussed. It would be inefficient to include all employees in every meeting where matters of the company are being discussed. That being said, you never know. Zappos could flourish and the idea could take off. We will have to wait and see… Do you feel that holacracy is the future?

Senior Talent Manager, Engineering