Why Self-Organizing Is So Hard

Bud Caddell:

I believe in the values of self-organization and self-management because I believe in the power of human agency. I believe that organizations should do everything they can (within reason) to empower the abilities and ambitions of their people. […]

Zappos has in many ways been a pioneer of human agency (and has done much to prove its business value for other organizations). But this mandate has left me wondering, if this change is so beneficial, and Zappos has already been operating this way since 2013, why is a top-down mandate even needed?

The irony is not lost on me either.

Plus, it takes a very special type of person and environment to self-organize. Not everyone can — or wants to — do so, nor does the situation necessarily allow it. When it comes to moving fast in a high paced environment, the following French saying pretty much nails it:

You do not steer a ship in an iceberg field by taking committee-driven decisions.