Can you run a company without managers?

A workplace without bosses sounds... idyllic. In this episode, Isabel explores the topic of flat hierarchies with Alexis Gonzales-Black, an expert in organisational design. A few years ago, Alexis helped Zappos, the Amazon-owned online shoe business, to bring in ‘Holacracy’ - a way of sidelining bosses and shifting decision-making down to individual teams so they have autonomy. The experiment wasn’t a total success, as we hear, but Alexis talks about how leaders can step back and make the most of employees’ skills and expertise. 


But what about other ways that companies knock down workplace hierarchies? Isabel chats to Andrew Hill, the FT’s management editor, about a consultancy that abolished job titles (cue: confusion all round) and US company WL Gore (makers of Gore-Tex), where leaders are appointed through acquiring skills and followers - not just because someone higher up gives them a job.  


Plus, the dark side of boss-less workplaces. Do they give toxic colleagues a free pass to behave even more badly? 


We love to hear from you: email us at workingit@ft.com or Isabel directly at isabel.berwick@ft.com. Follow @isabelberwick on Twitter or Instagram.


Mentioned in the podcast: 


Alexis Gonzales-Black on Zappos’ experiment with Holacracy: 

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/insights-holacracy-interview-alexis-gonzales-black-usha-gubbala/


More on what happened to Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ late CEO

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-death-of-zappos-tony-hsieh-a-spiral-of-alcohol-drugs-and-extreme-behavior-11607264719


FT article by Alicia Clegg -’ Boss-less business is No Workers’ Paradise’

https://www.ft.com/content/34a86220-d639-11e9-8d46-8def889b4137


Andrew Hill on innovative management ideas 

https://www.ft.com/content/f14b3205-f140-4e74-8743-04b881b63134


Presented by Isabel Berwick. Editorial direction from Renée Kaplan. Assistant producer is Persis Love. Sound design is by Breen Turner, with original music from Metaphor Music. Produced by Novel.


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