People Are Not Software

… you think?

Hsieh doesn’t believe in vulnerability for himself (“vulnerability implies you’re insecure about something,” he explained to Quartz) and has reorganized his company under a system, Holacracy, that has been criticized for putting a disproportionate focus on process.

That’s where the problem starts and that’s where the solution will inevitably begin. Leadership can drive a business to thrive or it can be the first to pick up the shovel and dig a grave.

I knew Zappos before Holacracy and then especially during as I had more than a few friends who were employed there. They were scared, anxious, and afraid of their future (and the future of Zappos).

These were emotions that were, obviously, counter-productive in every way, shape, and form for a healthy organization. And, if it’s not just an isolated employee but rather organization-wide, then, something (or someone) has failed to be the leader that the business needs them to be.

I don’t have a problem with Holacracy. In fact, there are things that I really like about it and there are organizational optimizations that it suggests and recommends that many businesses could benefit from.

But without clear leadership, without a firm foundation built upon trust, no organizational system, Holacracy or not, will ultimately work.

It’s fascinating because I really enjoy systems and processes and see them as “safe places” to get work done, especially as engineer and software programmer. Without them a system falls into ruin before it can even begin.

But the longer I work as a team leader, as a manager, I’ve come to the difficult conclusion that organizations, although rife with systems, are first and foremost made up of people who are much more emotional than systematic.

This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. It’s just a thing, and every leader has to be the very best leader that they possibly can be for their unique and distinct organization. And, remember, every organization is different so the leadership will naturally look different as well.

As the roads continually attempt convergence between man and machine I see even greater distinction between the two as a natural outcause.

We should let the machines do what they do best and let humans do what they do best and as much as we (I) would like these things to converge… the honest truth is that they don’t overlap nearly as much as we’d like them to (or try to make them).

And that’s a good thing.


Also published on Medium.