Embrace and Drive Change #191

Embrace and Drive Change #191

Embrace and drive change

Blog #190 I talked about why the Weekly Lunch at Zappos was fun. In this blog I want to talk about Embrace and Drive Change.


“Embrace and Drive Change”. Currently Core Value number 2 out of 10. We created our ten Core Values later on in 2006. The definition of this core value on our current site is as follows:


Part of being in a growing company is that change is constant. For some people, especially those that come from bigger companies, the constant change can be somewhat unsettling at first. If you are not prepared to deal with constant change, then you probably are not a good fit for the company. We must all learn not only to not fear change, but to embrace it enthusiastically, and perhaps even more importantly, to encourage and drive it. We must always plan for and be prepared for constant change. Change can and will come from all directions. It’s important that anyone, anywhere in the organization is a sensor for meaningful change. Especially and including roles that are closest to our customers and/or issues. Never accept or be too comfortable with the status quo, because historically, the companies that get into trouble are the ones that aren’t able to respond quickly enough and adapt to change. We are ever evolving. If we want to continue to stay ahead of our competition, we must continually change and keep them guessing. They can copy our images, our shipping, and the overall look of our web site, but they cannot copy our people, our culture, or our service. And they will not be able to evolve as fast as we can as long as embracing constant change is a part of our culture.


Ask yourself: How do you plan and prepare for change? Do you view new challenges optimistically? Do you encourage and drive change? How do you encourage more change to be driven from all areas of the organization? Are you empowering your fellow circle members to process their tensions, improve the structure of their circles by bringing issues to governance meetings, and to drive change?


Sample Behaviors for this value:


  • Drives original thinking
  • Challenges the status quo or common wisdom
  • Is comfortable with chaos and uncertainty
  • Experiments with new ideas before going all in. Bullets vs. cannonballs.


Back in 2003 though, we were still getting our feet wet. We were still in “start-up mode” so we had a ways to go still. The Site itself would change whenever someone had an idea to make it better.


Case in point, we had 12 images per brand for each page. Because of our rapid growth we would have a lot of pages for the customers to scroll through. Someone came up with the idea to have 99 per page and just like that, it was changed right away. With the big focus on selection growth this was a pretty big deal. We also added multi view so the customers could see different angles of the product. The photography studio would have to take a little more time but it was well worth it.


We had a backend tool called Site Manager that reps and buyers could use for reorders and the buyers used for new product. It was a great tool but the pictures weren’t on the pages so we would have to cross reference the line sheets to see what the product looked like. Tom Austin came in one day and suggested to Fred that we put the pictures on the pages. He made the infamous comment “We have so much product even I can’t remember all the names”. Later that week it was changed which was great for me too being so new.


During one of our touch bases Fred asked me if I heard of a brand called “Pelle Moda”. I hadn’t heard of it before but I told him I’d look into it. He said it seemed pretty popular on the Nordstrom floor in San Francisco. After a little research I discovered it was owned by Chainson Footwear who made Moda Spana. I wonder if my old buddy Rick was still there? I decided to start by calling Rick. It would be nice to catch up with him anyways.


Rick and I had a nice talk and caught up with each and he was still with the company. We set up a meeting for later in the week to see if we could get something started. He came down and we talked about how we could do business together. He showed me the line and it was beautiful. Plus they had extended sizes like they had in Moda Spana in this brand too, so I bought both brands.


Fred had mentioned I needed to get a Blackberry to communicate more effectively. I was using a Razor flip phone at the time but he wanted me to have access to emails at all times. A Smartphone was the way to go. Everyone pretty much used the Blackberry in the office so I decided to shop the models.


I had some issues at first getting it set up because I was using a funky provider at the time so after a few painful moments finally got it fixed. Fred had this thing about responding right away to any texts or emails so he would do role calls. Even at 10pm at night. His thought was we had the option to work from home on Fridays so we should be available at all times because of this privilege.


Our days Monday through Thursday were 10 hour days and Fridays were a half day so I was fine with it. Just needed to train myself to be aware of looking at the Blackberry every 30 minutes.

…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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