Agile Project Management, Holacracy, and Zappos: Wave of Change

Let’s step back and draw a picture here. We’ll start off with an open field in a valley on the Serengeti.  Then, we’ll plop down two fences with a walkway between them, along which people walk every day. Now, these fences have been there for over 100 years. Up until recently though, no one saw that the “right” side of the fence had existed. On the left side of the fence, you have a herd of cumbersome rhinos named, “Corporate Hierarchy”, “Corporate Bureaucracy”, and “Waterfall Methodology”. Who would name rhinos that? Not exactly sure, but one can surmise that it’s someone who is short sighted and bent on stifling creativity. On the other side of the fence (let’s call it the “right” side of the fence) are a pair cheetahs. “Their names?” you ask. Well, we call them “Holacracy” and “Agile Project Management”. Holacracy and Agile Project Management were not discovered until recently, which leads many people to shy away from them due to the simple fact that they are different. If history has taught us one thing, it is that those who have embraced the difference and not shied away from change experience the greatest success.

This story, purposefully polarized, draws a unique picture of the project management and corporate management worlds in which we live. Zappos is the first large scale corporation to commit itself to converting to Holacracy and it will be some time before we see their elusive ROI. Because, let’s be honest, culture changes at a company, though the most profound, are the most difficult to quantify. The goal here is to remind you that just because something is different and new, that does not mean it is wrong.  At the same time, it does not mean it is right either. What it means is that it deserves the right to be understood.

As School House Rock says, “Knowledge is power”, why not go empower yourself!

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