McKinsey & Company
Beautifully weird and helpful
The news
The man who delivered happiness. Last weekend, former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh—whose personal mantra was “delivering happiness”—passed away from injuries sustained during a house fire. Only 46, Hsieh had retired just months before after 20 years with Zappos. “The earth has lost a beautifully weird and helpful person,” said one member of the tech community. [CNN]
A digital path breaker with a quirky management style. A couple of decades ago, nobody thought people would buy shoes without trying them on. Or rather, nobody but Tony Hsieh. Zappos offered customers free shipping and free returns and encouraged them to call its in-house service department with questions, rather than directing them to email or to an outsourced service team. Reps sometimes even helped customers find shoes elsewhere if Zappos didn’t have the ones they wanted. An expensive strategy—but it worked. [WSJ]
“Organizations get stuck because they want predictability of structure. But if it’s the wrong structure, what’s the benefit of being predictably wrong?”
Our insights
Why it matters. During Hsieh’s tenure, Zappos became a test bed for thought-provoking organizational ideas—including his famous emphasis on employee self-governance, or “holacracy.” One example: employees themselves decided on the company’s ten core values, including “create fun and a little weirdness,” “deliver WOW through service,” and “be adventurous, creative, and open-minded.”
In his own words. Back in 2017, we sat down with Hsieh to better understand his views on what self-organization really means in practice—insights that have particular relevance in the pandemic, when many companies have shifted quickly to a more distributed decision-making model. Here’s what he had to say.
— Edited by Mike Borruso  
Try a little weird
Was this forwarded to you? Sign up here.
Or send us feedback — we’d love to hear from you.
McKinsey & Company
Follow our thinking
LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Copyright © 2020 | McKinsey & Company, 3 World Trade Center, 175 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10007