Read Workplace: Evo: Designing Adaptive Organizations on p. 485-6 of the text, and answer the 3 Discussion Questions that follow, using headings that correspond to the questions. The link can be found at:
Evo: Designing Adaptive Organizations
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When ski-enthusiast Bryce Phillips started selling ski and snowboard equipment on eBay, he managed everything—customer care, supply chain, technology, buying, and finance—all from his apartment. Nine years later, Phillips’s company, Evo, runs a hugely successful e-commerce site, employs more than sixty people, manages its Seattle flagship store, and operates a 40,000 square foot distribution center. Evo has grown at least 70 percent every year and recently hit $10 million in sales. To effectively lead this expanding venture, Phillips continually looks for ways to delegate responsibilities to capable managers around him.
As a straightforward business, Evo is well served by its flat, functional structure. A recent companywide meeting showcased this organizational structure. Department heads introduced themselves and their staffs and explained the function of their departments so new employees and the whole company would have a better understanding of how all the pieces of the company fit together.
Beyond its formal structure, Evo works within a set of core values called “The Great 8,” which provides another important operating framework. The Great 8 includes authenticity, balanced ambition, credibility, style, leadership, respect, communication, and evolución. On Evo’s website, Phillips explained, “Even with all of the changes, many things have remained constant, and we are where we are because we have stayed true to the Great 8. We established the Great 8 to guide us through the decisions, big and small, that we make every day.”
In 2004, when Evo employed only six people, flexibility was a way of life. Everyone wore multiple hats and did everything necessary to get the job done. As the number of employees on payroll approached sixty, it was time to make sure the people who dealt directly with customers possessed the authority and flexibility to deliver excellent service. This organizational soul-searching yielded a new customer care policy titled “Just Say YES!” As a result, customer service representatives now make their own decisions about how to make customers happy.
Today, Phillips is looking for ways to adapt again—this time to the troubled U.S. economy. Luckily, tackling monster moguls on the ski slopes has prepared him for almost anything.
Is Evo a centralized or decentralized company? Explain.
Are Evo’s top managers likely to seek a taller, more mechanistic type of organization to accommodate growth and change? Why or why not?
Identify the factors that influence Evo’s organizational structure.