Hi Ruben, thanks for your post.
Michele Zanini

Thanks for taking the time Michele!

Isn’t it ironic that HBR (being a classy publication vs. a clickbait-blog) chooses the headline of your article? It indeed doesn’t reflect your focus on the implementation instead of the system implemented.

I disagree with your notion that all-at-once / top down cannot work for implementing less bureaucratic organisational systems. I think it is the only way, because:

  • You’re replacing a top down system, therefore the current power structure must relinquish its power. Otherwise, you’ll get what so many organisations have: some “self organisation” at the bottom without any real empowerment and resources from the top.
  • You don’t have time to experiment with the very basics in a running business from the ground up, like you wouldn’t have time to create a computer OS from the ground up. Indeed, Unix and Linux were created from academical / military backgrounds, and only then taken by the business world to evolve it much further.
  • You need synchronisation on communication methods, otherwise you won’t be able to effectively conduct the higher level experiments.

My opinion is grounded only in my (limited) experience at my own and a few other companies that I’ve coached. I am curious to hear examples (based on presently known data and examples, as we say in Holacracy ;) ) of the way you think systems should be implemented.

I got the feeling you are quick to dismiss Zappos’ try, but don’t offer any alternative examples that a 1,500 people company did to change itself entirely bottom-up.

Actually, I think the focus on bottom-up vs top-down implementation is a distraction. They are just definitions to be interpreted, and I think the way many companies are implementing new SooS’s is actually much more bottom-up than you think.

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