No job titles and blurred lines of responsibility. Might holacracy catch on?

It has been around since at least 2007, and the principles underpinning it date back to the 1960s, but it has only now hit the big time. Holacracy is a theory of organisations that does away with job titles and instead distributes responsibility among self-governing circles. The Amazon-owned online retailer Zappos recently became the largest company to switch to the system. Its 1,500 people will complete the transition by December 2014.

Behind holacracy is the idea that work should be organised around tasks, rather than around the functions within a company. The best way to get tasks done is to trust teams to organise in the way that suits them best. Tasks are delegated to “circles” of people, which are free to self-govern – as long as they get the work done and fulfil the requirements of the upper circle that delegated it to them.

Holacracy has been codified by US software entrepreneur Brian Robertson. The rules are set out in a Holacracy constitution that purports to be written in plain English but reads otherwise, advising, for example: “A Linked Entity may add to or amend its Cross Link Role through its own due governance process, and such Role shall further...

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