As a naïve adolescent in the ’60s, I bought into all the equally naïve, adolescent claptrap about peace, love, harmony, and understanding. As I got older and more observant, I realized all the naïveté, all the adolescent idealism, and all the self-willed blindness in the world couldn’t obscure reality. When I read this — “The Zappos Exodus Continues After a Radical Management Experiment” — I realized yet again that realism, like empiricism, is a dying art.
A slice of life:
Many employees were confused. Who did they report to if there were no bosses? What was expected of them if they did not have a job title? How would they be compensated?
Good grief. This story is as old as humanity. We need structure. We need order. We need direction, purpose, and guidance. We’re creatures prone to anarchy and chaos. That’s why we’re comforted and reassured by knowing where the lines are, even if — perhaps especially if — we choose to break them for whatever reasons, however creative, foolish, productive, or self-destructive.
It’s also why naïveté, adolescent idealism, and utopian fantasies won’t eradicate things like poverty, individualism, and personality. And it’s why impressionable gullibility won’t succeed at precluding, discounting, or overlooking human nature, even in marketing.
Organizational structures — like the structures of any institutions of social order — didn’t evolve in vacuums, kids. They evolved in the inescapable realities of real life in the real world with real people. If we didn’t need structure, order, direction, purpose, and guidance, we’d never have evolved to create them.
The utopian skinners at Holocracy hope we won’t realize that. The folks at Zappo’s didn’t realize that. And a once viable and formidable business is now on the ropes as a result. It’s not clear if Tony Hesieh’s decision can be reversed. It’s not clear if the bleeding can be stopped. It’s not clear if the business can be saved.
I’m not sure if mystic crystal revelations will save Zappo’s. But a little history and some common sense might help.
When will they ever learn?
Image by Larisa-K, courtesy of pixabay.com.