Is Flat the New Black?

by Kim Taylor

I’ve been obsessed with Zappos and Tony Hsieh for years.  Zappos’ approach to business and customer service is widely lauded.  His book and subsequent movement on delivering happiness is still going strong.

So, it should surprise no one that the latest news out of Zappos is their change to a completely flat organization.  The holacracy means no job titles and no formal bosses, just a group of individuals working toward a common purpose.

A few well-known internet companies are thriving with a similar hierarchy-free approach, so I wonder could this work for us?  Or, any other professional services organization?   How do you handle varying levels of experience?  If there are no bosses, who do we report to?

Turns out, some of the major benefits to flat organizations have small-business written all over them:

– Fewer layers, making communication more efficient;

– Nimble decision-making;

– Employee retention leading to decreased costs for training; and,

– Empowered employees resulting in higher morale.

Empowering employees to make decisions is probably one of the single-most important tools for running a business.  If your team is in tune with your organization’s goals and understands its purpose, then giving them the freedom and authority to make sound decisions can be a highly effective way to serve your clients.

As a business owner, would you consider demolishing the layers?  Forget Orange, maybe flat is the new black.

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