What Can Education Learn From Zappos?

I just read a story about the business practices of Zappos, an online shoe retailer. The company seems incredibly focused on customer relationships through the hiring and nurturing of engaged employees. The following paragraph reports a very interesting and unique approach to their initial training and hiring process.

It’s a hard job, answering phones and talking to customers for hours at a time. So when Zappos hires new employees, it provides a four-week training period that immerses them in the company’s strategy, culture, and obsession with customers. People get paid their full salary during this period.

After a week or so in this immersive experience, though, it’s time for what Zappos calls “The Offer.” The fast-growing company, which works hard to recruit people to join, says to its newest employees: “If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.” Zappos actually bribes its new employees to quit!

While this is interesting in itself, I am also drawn to the larger policies and philosophies apparent in the management of this company. Take some time to listen to the following video, an interview with Bill Taylor who has recently studied the company. In your mind, try to replace customers/employees with students/teachers. There is something powerful that education can learn within this framework.

Big Party – The Interview

There was some news this week about the “Australian kid” that threw a big party (500 people) at his parents house while they were out of town. The fallout from the party resulted in a lot of damage to neighboring vehicles and homes. Here is a video of the boy’s first television interview.

Funny Kid Isnt Sorry About Huge Party – Watch more free videos

This is interesting to me, not so much in the sense that the kid has little regret about the incident, but more so in the way the news host attempts to discipline and force the child to take off his glasses and apologize. It felt familiar. I have witnessed this before in the disciplinary approaches of many teachers and administrators, and almost always, it has a similar result.

Seem famliar to you?