5 Structures that Shaped Zappos’ Culture


Lack of focus wastes energy, squanders resources, and defeats hope. Focus, on the other hand, eliminates the superfluous in order to grasp the essential.

Success requires focus.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, describes his focus in two words, “Company culture.”

Dr. David Vik (Doc), author of, “The Culture Secret,” helped build the world renowned culture of Zappos. During our conversation he said leaders tried to replicate Zappos’ culture in their own businesses, but often failed.

Trying to replicate another organization’s culture is like putting decorations on a Christmas tree. It’s pretty at first and garbage in the end.

Doc says, “There are two parts to any Culture. The first is structure.” Culture development fails when it’s all decorations but no structure.

5 Structures that shape Zappos’ Culture:

  1. Vision: What the organization is doing and wants to do.
  2. Purpose: Why the organization is doing what it does.
  3. Business Model: How vision is accomplished.
  4. Wow Factors: What makes the organization stand out?
  5. Values: What the company and employees care about.

Doc says, “The second part of Culture is people.”

5 behavioral expressions of culture:

Sustained culture development and transformation requires behavioral alignment with the culture building structures listed above. Behavioral alignment includes:

  1. Habits.
  2. Routines.
  3. Shared language.
  4. Common beliefs
  5. Mutual decisions.

Roots of failure:

Doc explained failure to develop the five structures dooms culture development. It’s hanging pretty decorations on shabby trees.

Building organizational culture begins with structures not decorations.

Why focus on culture:

Tony Hsieh says, “If you get the culture right, then a lot of really amazing things happen on their own.”

Check out, “The Culture Secret,” written by a guy who helped develop the best culture on the planet.

What factors develop or transform organizational culture?