Traditional hierarchies are being challenged by alternative management structures, as companies seek to foster innovation and agility. Zappos, the online shoe retailer, is one such company that has adopted a system known as ‘Holacracy.’ This structure removes power from a management hierarchy and distributes it across clear roles, which can then be executed autonomously. The system is designed to encourage employee engagement and productivity, but has faced criticism for being complex and difficult to understand.

Valve, a video game developer, uses a flat structure, where there are no job titles and employees choose what to work on. This approach is intended to promote creativity and collaboration, but can lead to confusion and lack of direction.

Spotify, on the other hand, employs a ‘squad’ structure. Each squad is a self-organising team with a specific area of focus. Squads are grouped into ‘tribes,’ which share knowledge and resources. This structure aims to maintain a start-up mentality, even as the company grows.

The Morning Star Company operates on a model of ‘self-management.’ Each employee negotiates responsibilities with colleagues, and decisions are made collectively. This approach encourages individual accountability but can be time-consuming.

While these alternative structures offer potential benefits, they also present challenges. Companies considering such changes must carefully weigh the pros and cons, and ensure they are culturally ready for a new way of working.

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