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Is Zappos the New Southwest Airlines?

For years, I have touted the culture of Southwest Airlines because they very effectively combine excellence with fun.  Most organizations feel they must be serious to achieve their important mission.  Southwest proved they can do both – and be successful at both.

Now Zappos has come on the scene and CEO Tony Hsieh is really shaking up the business world with a similar focus on a fun culture.  In an interview with the New York Times, Hsieh said that culture is their number one priority.  If they get they culture of the organization right, the rest of the work falls neatly into place.  In other words, if you have the right people working in your organization, you don’t really have to worry about the customer service.

To engage the right people into their culture, Zappos conduct two separate types of interviews.  One is for technical skills and the other is for a fit in the culture.  I call this the what and the how.  We must determine if people can do the job but we must also scrutinize how they do the job.

One of their cultural values is to “Create fun and a little weirdness.”  I suspect most organizations would never put something like that in writing, much less try to achieve it in the work environment.  And yet, Zappos is proving that it works.

So, to be clear, doing things well and making them fun is a combination that can make you successful.  It allows employees to enjoy being productive.  What a novel idea.


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