Apologies if you crashed half-way through the last post. I don’t blame you. I did the same. In my defense, I was typing it up on my brand new Apple Watch. I’m investing in a disruptive Vegas Downtown Project startup that’s making next generation publishing apps for Apple’s futuristic time keeping piece. There’s not a lot of screen real estate to pound out a massive essay, but the rush you feel as you’re doing it is like the perfect mix of snorting a sweet line of Colombian coke while zip lining across the Fremont Experience at midnight.
Anyway, back to Teal. My email has been praised by many in the media. These people get it. Some cynics would say these media types are heaping on the praise in hopes that I’ll throw some quidly their way in the form of advertising. Some of those same cynics are the ones who are criticizing my approach in leading the self-organization charge. Let me address some of the most frequently asked questions concerning my Teal email that I’ve received from these cynics, some of whom are (sadly) Zapponians.
- How can you force self-organization like this? Doesn’t that go against the very nature of self-organization?
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Orange or teal? Cadbury Creme Eggs or rabbits? Something has to come first. In this case, it’s the CEO of a highly successful online retailer acting as the mother bird for his nest of hatchlings. After nurturing his baby birds with more happiness than should be allowed by the laws of nature, he takes them out of the nest for the first time and tosses them out of the thousand foot tall tree in order to teach them how to fly. Will they all soar like eagles? Probably not. In fact, I’m guessing the odds are pretty good that at least some of them end up on the ground looking a lot like poultry pancakes. But some will flap their wings frantically enough to avoid a nosedive. And, yes, some of those will fly to a different nest, but for the ones who see the value in the nest from which they came, they’ll get their turn to toss baby birds off the evergreen next.
- Did you have a robot transcribe your original message?
OK, I get it. The email was a little mechanical. I have at least a couple good reasons for this. 1) Have you read Freddy’s book? That was my source material. Read two pages. You’ll understand. 2) You have to keep it professional. Self-organization gets a bad rap as some sort of hippie anarchist plot to take over corporate America. I had to lay down the law in a clear and concise manner. There is a time to inspire people and there is a time to give it to them like a Speak & Spell. My teal email was 100% written by me (minus the thousands of words copied and pasted from other sources) in a tone that hits all the notes I needed to hit. I was like Bob Dylan crooning classic show tunes at a long forgotten Vegas lounge. Pitch perfect, with just the right balance of class, creativity, and nasally droning.
- You don’t have compensation figured out yet? Not even sketched on the back of a napkin?
Even though we’ve had a rough patch in the past, I’m going to repeat something Kanye once told me, “Money don’t make a man.” He said this a while back when I was giving him a tour of downtown Vegas. At least I think that’s what he said. It was a little hard to understand, as we both had our mouths full of rare Japanese pufferfish prepared by Kanye’s personal chef while we toured #DTLV in his luxury home on 18 wheels.
- Did you really compare people to antibodies, viruses, and diseases?
This was a mistake. I’ve long admired Bill Nye the Science Guy and this was my feeble attempt to reach for Bill’s lab coattails. I’ve found much kinder and gentler language when referring to people since then – “decihumans”.
- Does Bezos think you’ve lost your mind?
I’m not sure. He’s probably pretty busy playing 3D games on his Fire phone, or zooming around Seattle on a revolutionary Segway, or figuring out what to do with a newspaper he now owns.
- No, really. Does Bezos think you’ve lost all sanity?
Truth is, I never get Jeffrey on the phone long enough to find out much of anything. He’s been calling at least once a day since I sent my Teal email, but hangs up after yelling, “KEEP GETTIN’ THEM CHECKS!” I suspect he doesn’t stick around longer because that’s about the average battery life of a Fire phone. I’ve tried to respond to his daily call but lose the connection every time at, “But in a teal organization…” Click.
- Is a Super Cloud the Zappos version of “the cloud”, only super?
I’ll try to be as clear as possible with this one, as there has been some confusion in the past about what Super Cloud is and is not. Super Cloud is the convergence of synergistic Amazon cloud technologies and Zappos customer focused services to deliver new, holistic, disruptive, full stack innovation that empowers a new generation of organic community, connections, and collisions that provide a sustainable platform and explosion of new marketplaces capable of pivoting and adapting, in order to generate value for the entire ecosystem. Super Cloud is not just another large technology migration.
- You want Zappos to run like Alcoholics Anonymous?
This could be problematic. We’ve been known to enjoy a few drinks around the office, out of the office, on top of the office, under the office, etc. It’s like Green Eggs and Ham, except with Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark in place of the unhatched chicks and slaughtered pig. I think I need a bit more time to formulate the answer for this one.
- Glass Frog? Tell us more.
Frogs are a close second to llamas in my book. It just so happens that the amazing self-organization system we’re adopting at Zappos, Holacracy, named its tool after my second favorite animal. The “glass” part of the title is to warn the user that this particular frog is special and needs to be handled with care. Don’t click haphazardly or type too fast. Take your time, be gentle with this amphibian and he just may make Holacracy the best organizational system you’ve used since the Palm Pilot.
- What’s the next book you think will transform Zappos?
A friend on the TED circuit recommended I read Animal Farm. I’m halfway through and have to say this is shaping up to be a real game changer. Inspiring. Be on the lookout Zapponians.