Recently, The New Republic published a very in-depth (and lengthy) inside look at online shoe retailer Zappos’ radical decision to do away with all managers. There is a lot of interesting information about the company’s transition, what it means for their future, and how it’s affected the notoriously positive work atmosphere, but the part that stuck out to us was how Zappos is striving to be a “Teal Organization.”
As The New Republic explains, the phrase comes from the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux and the colorfully named term corresponds with one of many stages in the evolution of human consciousness and its influence on our organizational paradigms. When it comes to organizations, at the base level of this thought process is Red (aggressive gang and mafia-like organizations); then progressive of that is the highly formal and organized Amber (government, military, some churches), followed by Orange (investment banks, multinational corporations), which focuses on innovation, progress and development; Green, which seeks to build upon the achievement mindset of Orange by adding meaning and purpose, and finally at the top of the hierarchy, Teal.
Teal organizations are sort of the Buddhists of the business world, meaning that ideally, according to the author, “Teal organizations [seek] to empower its members to be creative, independent, adaptable, and self-directed… [and] do away with hierarchies of people and of power and replace them with a hierarchy of purpose.”
Although there are drawbacks to this type of organization, especially for massive companies like Zappos, we couldn’t help but find some inspiration in it. Afterall, the three basic traits of a Teal Organization are self-management, wholeness, and a deeper sense of purpose — three traits that we wholeheartedly support and strive for at Oishii. As we’ve previously stated, we believe any paradigm for success starts with nurturing a team of creative entrepreneurs, and trusting and valuing their contributions and supporting their desire for meaningful work.
So, while we’re not quite ready to do away with managers (our EPs keep us sane after all), we do think there are some positives to be learned from Zappos going Teal.