Article Summary:

Fast Company reports Whole Foods is one of the business world’s most radical experiments in democratic capitalism. Whole Foods is the largest natural food grocer in the United States, and is the most profitable. What makes Whole Foods unique is their position on employee empowerment, autonomy, and teamwork. This is a company where all employees can see each other’s numbers and vote for someone to be hired. It started in 1980 and by 1991; it had almost a dozen stores in three states. Today it has blossomed into 43 stores across ten states with a $500 million revenue stream. With few rules and ten teams in each store, collaboration and competition is at an all-time high. There are very little levels of hierarchy, because everything is completed in teams. Teams are measured for performance, increasing accountability to one another. With every new location, Whole Foods plants veteran team members to replicate and create sustainable and successful stores.

It becomes clear, when companies utilize leadership to align employees, the employees become better. Whole Foods has identified that the release of control, replaced by the implementation of performance metrics, creates a transparent environment that has increased the responsibility of each employee and is rapidly moving it toward its billion-dollar revenue goal. By understanding natural laws like transparency and no control, people and companies start to reflect greater levels of productivity.

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Comments (4)

  1. Jake Addis


    There are a lot of things in this article that jump out as saying that Whole Foods is Type A. For one, there appears to be an absence of control on a corporate level, they are very open to change, and team members are scored on performance. All three of these are signs of a Type A mindset, and we can see the results that is is having for Whole Foods by looking at their quarterly reports. The chain is a constant on top grocer earnings and growth reports, showing what can result from having an open mind and breaking the mold.

    As a side note, this article is 18 years older than the summary; Whole Foods has been doing much better since then.

  2. Jennifer Cardoza


    I had no idea that Whole Foods did this but find it very interesting. As stated in this post, the freedom and lack of hierarchy led the company to the success it has today. What I found very interesting is the mention of competition and accountability. I believe it is very important to instill a sense of competition in any business setting in order to reach full potential of the employees and the business as a whole. This competition allows for workers to be motivated to do their best in day-to-day operations as well as creates the accountability and responsibility factor. I’m very impressed by Whole Foods implementing this team building setting in their stores and it’s very evident that competition works proved by their heightened success.

  3. Ethan


    Whole Foods is awesome because of the individuality that each store brings. It isn’t like other franchises that all look the same because the employees actually have a say and take ownership over the store. It goes to show through the growth rates and satisfaction of customers that transparency and metrics add value to a company.

  4. Teja Reddy


    I think Whole foods competitive interior departments nature has made it altogether a competitive business, its nature of transparency and no control has made their system competitive. By giving a chance for the employees to choose new one’s and making veterans as a part of their teams, makes workers more responsible, by utilizing metrics and recording performance they are motivating their staff to work better and more competitive manner, the way they are running their system can be used as a good example for IMT.

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