In Downtown News: Lost Medals and Holacracy

Zappos Story

Talking Downtown is a weekly digest of news stories and blog posts about Downtown Las Vegas compiled from local and national sources. Seen something? Say something: Editor@DTLV.com.

THE HOL- WORLD IS WATCHING: The good news is that The Economist has noticed Zappos—specifically, its companywide embrace of the “holacracy” management structure, a system that places both employees and management in “circles” (like the one above … well, kinda), eschews traditional job titles and creates a kind of hive mind. The Economist even likens the Downtown company’s audacious effort to that of other pioneers in “leading-edge management thinking,” such as GE and Toyota. That brings us to the bad news: They’re not at all sure holacracy can work. “Past attempts to democratise decision-making have not been notably successful,” the publication warns, quoting Stanford University’s Jeffrey Pfeffer: “Hierarchy is a fundamental principle of all organizational systems.” The article concedes that holacracy could work for Zappos, a company that’s always marched (in comfortable shoes!) to the beat of its own drum. But they’re simply not sure.

MEDALS, HE WROTE: My neighbor Matt Kelemen unspools a compelling tale in the Las Vegas Weekly: The mystery of several Chinese military medals, which he found carefully placed on a Huntridge Tract neighborhood curb on trash day. Kelemen makes several attempts to determine their provenance, but his efforts only bring more questions. Ultimately, what ends up being most fascinating about Kelemen’s search is the way it draws on several Downtown resources. He consults with Las Vegas Camera Club co-owner Brian McCormick, who gives him a crucial expert contact; he talks to Heidi and Scott Swank about the process of collecting valuables; he visits Cindy Funkhouser at The Funk House, who notes a velcro backing consistent with the kind used in display cases. He even does a bit of detective work on the mysterious house where he found the medals. It’s a great read, but he freely admits that it has no ending as yet. Perhaps there’s someone out there who can help to write it—someone with a few deliberately-emptied spots in his curio cabinet.

PHOTO BY GEOFF CARTER

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