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Case Studies by Noah Askin

3 case studies

by Publication Date
published: 22 Aug 2018

  • Topic: Leadership & Organisations
  • Industry: Retail, Technology, eCommerce
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
After 18 months of attempting to transition the company to holacracy, Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ celebrity CEO, decided it was time to make the change happen. In March 2015, he sent an email to all Zappos employees offering them 3 months’ severance pay if they felt that self-management was not for them. One month later, 14% of the workforce had quit, including 20% of the tech department, potentially putting at risk a complex transition to a new online platform mandated by parent company Amazon. The case recounts how Tony Hsieh financed, championed, and ultimately became CEO of online shoe retailer Zappos. A passionate entrepreneur who made millions at a young age, Hsieh was known for his penthouse parties, for what he referred to as his “tribe”. He brought the same sense of community to Zappos, which he moved from San Francisco to Las Vegas where employees could “be like family”. Despite the company’s unabashedly weird culture, it had the lowest employee turnover rate in the industry. Widely admired for its outstanding customer service, Zappos was repeatedly listed among Fortune’s “Best Places To Work.” When in 2009 Amazon acquired Zappos for $1.2 billion, it promised to preserve its management and culture. But Hsieh’s decision to implement holacracy – a form of organizational self-management that replaces job titles and hierarchy with “circles” that employees step in and out of according to their preferences and skills – was less popular than hoped. Hence his “rip the Band-Aid” approach, to ensure that only employees committed to the change remained at the company.

Pedagogical Objectives:
Analyzing the role of culture in developing an organization’s competitive advantage - Discussing the purpose and impact of structure on those within an organization - Understanding the emotional experience of organizational change - Evaluating leadership in the context of radical change

Keywords:
Organizational Culture, Structure, Organizational Change, Leadership, Leading Change, Management, Holacracy

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published: 30 Jul 2018

  • Topic: Leadership & Organisations
  • Industry: Digital design consulting
  • Region: Asia

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Abstract:
How can an organization help its employees’ creativity thrive? When Rokey Zhang and Ricky Xu founded Eico in 2004, no one could predict the scale of China’s mobile and e-commerce revolution. Fourteen years later, they have ridden that wave of change to play a key role in designing some of the most influential and popular digital services in China. But it has not been easy. Charting the cultural, organizational, and business-related issues they encountered as the firm grew, the case explores the changes made to its structure , how systems and processes are designed to overcome national and cultural impediments to the creative process, and why Eico is able to work in an environment which other design agencies have found particularly challenging.

Pedagogical Objectives:
- Explore the ways processes can be used to foster and sell creativity and innovation. - Analyze the role of culture in establishing an organization’s competitive advantage. - Consider the similarities and differences between driving innovation in China compared to the West. - Understand the experience of the entrepreneurial process.

Keywords:
China, Creativity, Organizational Design, Organizational Culture, Digital Design, Entrepreneurial Leadership, Design Thinking, Organizational Routines, Management, Innovation

published: 26 Aug 2016

  • Industry: Retail, Technology, eCommerce
  • Region: Global

Show details ...

Abstract:
After 18 months of attempting to transition the company to holacracy, Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ celebrity CEO, decided it was time to make the change happen. In March 2015, he sent an email to all Zappos employees offering them 3 months’ severance pay if they felt that self-management was not for them. One month later, 14% of the workforce had quit, including 20% of the tech department, potentially putting at risk a complex transition to a new online platform mandated by parent company Amazon. The case recounts how Tony Hsieh financed, championed, and ultimately became CEO of online shoe retailer Zappos. A passionate entrepreneur who made millions at a young age, Hsieh was known for his penthouse parties, for what he referred to as his “tribe”. He brought the same sense of community to Zappos, which he moved from San Francisco to Las Vegas where employees could “be like family”. Despite the company’s unabashedly weird culture, it had the lowest employee turnover rate in the industry. Widely admired for its outstanding customer service, Zappos was repeatedly listed among Fortune’s “Best Places To Work.” When in 2009 Amazon acquired Zappos for $1.2 billion, it promised to preserve its management and culture. But Hsieh’s decision to implement holacracy – a form of organizational self-management that replaces job titles and hierarchy with “circles” that employees step in and out of according to their preferences and skills – was less popular than hoped. Hence his “rip the Band-Aid” approach, to ensure that only employees committed to the change remained at the company.

Pedagogical Objectives:
- Analyzing the role of culture in developing an organization’s competitive advantage - Discussing the purpose and impact of structure on those within an organization - Understanding the emotional experience of organizational change - Evaluating leadership in the context of radical change

Keywords:
Organizational Culture, Structure, Organizational Change, Leadership, Leading Change, Management, Holacracy

Prizes won:
- 2018 Case Awards Winner, Human Resource Management / Organisational Behaviour Category, Case Centre
- 2017 Case Centre Best-selling Case in Human Resource Management / Organisational Behaviour

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