A couple of months ago we – Charlie’s Eagles – were discussing Frederic Laloux’s book ‘Reinventing organization’ and the stories of Jean-François Zobrist (ex-CEO of FAVI) and Jan de Blok (CEO of BUURTZORG). I had read that book in February (see my Storify: https://storify.com/johanroels/reinventing-organizations-frederic-laloux) and to me the hidden secret of the ‘flat’ organizations FAVI (France) and BUURTZORG (Netherlands) is Creative Interchange.
Charlie’s Eagles is a group of people that gather every fortnight, using ooVoo, to discuss Creative Interchange: the process, its conditions, skills and behaviors. The name of our group is derived from the Christian name of Charlie Palmgren (through whom all the members got in contact with Creative Interchange) and from Charlie books: ‘The Chicken Conspiracy’ , who starts with Anthony de Mello’s story known as ‘The Golden Eagle’ while asking the question “Are you a Chicken or an Eagle?”, and ‘The Ascent of the Eagle’. So we are still ‘learning to Fly’ and ain’t Angels.
During that discussion, Carol Lishhalk, a member of our talk group, draw our attention to an article of Quest relating the memo of Mr. Tony Hsieh of Zappos: http://qz.com/370616/internal-memo-zappos-is-offering-severance-to-employees-who-arent-all-in-with-holacracy/ Charlie Palmgren will discuss in an upcoming column on our sister column website www.creativeinterchange.org what he thinks about this memo in the light of Creative Interchange.
From that day on I’ve read a series of columns, essays and blogs treating Zappos and Frederic Laloux’s book . In this column I want to focus on the critical notes in those articles regarding ‘Reinventing Organizations’.
Since I follow Dan Pontafract (@DanPontafract) on Twitter I read his article the day after he published it: http://www.forbes.com/sites/danpontefract/2015/05/11/what-is-happening-at-zappos/ As being said I’ll focus on Fred Laloux’s book in this column. Dan Pontafract: “Personally, I found the book to be reverse engineered. Dave Snowden went further, and referred to it as, “the most trivial management book I had read in a long time.” I immediately read Mr. Dave Snowden’s blog and was intrigued by his wordings, and since I did not know him, I sent following Tweet to Dan Pontefract :
To my surprise it was not Dan Pontafract who replied but Mr. Dave Snowden:
You can read the rest of our conversation on Twitter. What I learned from the Twitter discussion I had with Mr. Dave Snowden is that a) he effectively read Laloux’s book in one hour – it took me eight hours, so I have still a lot of progress to make. BTW Mr. Dave Snowden gave folowing clear explanation why the book could be read in one hour:
and b) the underlying cause for his negative appreciation of the book : “I (Dave Snowden) have an allergic reaction to anything endorsed by the exemplar of cult leaders Ken Wilber, and something approaching pity for people who seek his endorsement, as the book in question does.”
This month I saw a lot of other articles around the Zeppos ‘ongoing’ story; like the interesting “Making Sense of Zappos’ War on Managers” of Gianpiero Pietroglieri: https://hbr.org/2015/05/making-sense-of-zappos-war-on-managers . He just mentions the Hsieh memo asking Zappos employees reading Frederic Laloux’s book . It was yet another article that gave me the idea of the title of this column: http://timkastelle.org/blog/2015/05/zappos-just-pulled-off-the-boldest-change-management-move-ever/ . Let me quote Mr. Tim Kastelle: “First off, like Dave Snowden and Dan Pontefract, I am skeptical of the book being used to frame the change – it’s not well-supported by data, and it’s pretty fuzzy.” This time, as you can see, I did not sent a tweet to Mr. Tim Kastelle; I wrote a comment on his blogsite instead.
So my question is: “Are Dave Snowden, Dan Pontefract and Tim Kastelle victim of ‘Groupthink’?” If yes, be reassured, the consequences of this case of Groupthink will not be as dramatic as in the case of Challenger (http://www.crmlearning.com/groupthink-2nd-edition ). Nevertheless, since a couple of days, a Dutch saying is lingering in my head. Translated in English it ‘sounds’ like this: “Are those gentlemen not throwing the baby out with the bathwater?” They all seem to see Fred Laloux’s book only as a book about Holacracy, a manager-less system to support self-management and self-organization. And, more surprisingly, they all seem to disregard the cases of FAVI and BUURTZORG, who have nothing to do with Ken Wilber nor Holacracy. Those cases are rather well documented and prove to me, far more than Zappos, the Force of Creative Interchange! To come to that conclusion, I not only read Fred Laloux’s book, I saw numerous key note talks and read articles of as well Jean-François Zobrist as Jos de Blok.