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The Truly Alphabetical Team Page: A Look at Ego in Organizations

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I’m not suggesting that this makes sense for all companies to do, but it is a rare and refreshing thing to see when a company’s ‘Team’ section on its website is truly alphabetical. By truly alphabetical, I mean that even the leadership team is in their proper place in the alphabet and not before the A’s.

For example, this post was inspired by Andreessen Horowitz’s team page, which features its founding partners, Ben and Marc, fourth and fifteenth on the page, respectively.

Of the companies that put their whole team on their website, I would make a (purely anecdotal) guess that 15% or less make it truly alphabetical.

This is probably a strange thing to hear coming from someone who spent his whole education near the end of classroom lineups (any late-in-the-alphabet folks out there can sympathize), but I can put aside scarring childhood memories to show appreciation and respect for companies that truly stick to the alphabet when presenting their teams.

The leadership teams at these companies are also the types to sit at desks amongst their colleagues and not in fancy corner offices.¹ Tour the Zappos HQ and you’ll walk past Tony Hsieh’s cube positioned near a group of customer service representatives. Zappos is too big to show every employee’s name on its ‘team’ page, but, if they did, you could picture having to scroll to the T’s (for Tony) or H’s (for Hsieh) to find the Zappos CEO.

Since the culture of an organization so often comes heavily from the top, ego usually has no place at companies like these. In turn, the hiring practices at these companies tend to weed out big egos through culture-fit interviews.

We won’t argue that such a flat, ego-less structure makes sense for all organizations. But there is such a thing as too much ego. We often hear that the single most important contributor to a great work environment is the quality of the people that the employees are surrounded by. For maximum productivity, employees need to enjoy spending time with their coworkers to some degree, and big egos are commonly not the most enjoyable to be around.

We’re very close to expanding our team, and when the time comes to add folks to our website, I’m leaning towards making it truly alphabetical.

1This is probably not the case at Andreessen Horowitz, where the partners spend their days on highly confidential phone calls and should be in private offices most of the day.