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Zappos Gives Job Titles the Boot

Zappos Gives Job Titles the Boot
Image credit: mullen.com

Like most companies, Zappos has a vernacular all its own. And the online shoe and apparel retailer will soon have a corporate structure to match its distinctive vocabulary.

The Amazon-owned company, which refers to its executives as "monkeys" and executive assistants as "Time Ninjas," will likely be doing away with job titles altogether over the course of the next year as it transitions from a hierarchy to a "Holacracy."

Developed by serial entrepreneur Brian Robertson, a Holacracy is a system of governance that takes things like managers, job titles and bureaucratic red tape out of the equation, distributing leadership and power evenly across an organization. Instead of a standard hierarchy, companies in a Holacracy are comprised of different "circles" and employees can have any range of roles and responsibilities within those circles, according to a report in Quartz.

Related: Zappos' Secrets to Building an Empowering Company Culture

So far, Zappos is the biggest company to adopt the concept. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh plans for his 1,500 employees to be working in 400 circles when the transition is completed in 2014, with help from the company Robertson co-founded, HolacracyOne. "Radical transparency is the goal," wrote Aimee Groth in Quartz.

HolocracyOne consults, but also sells software called GlassFrog to help companies organize their circles. While terms of the Zappos arrangement are not yet clear, enterprises typically pay $2,500 a month for GlassFrog.

Twitter co-founder Ev Williams is also a fan of Holacracy. Medium, the blogging platform he created with Biz Stone runs in much the same way.

Businesses are always striving to find ways to be more effective and productive, and time will tell whether this strategy is one that will catch on.

Related: Can Radical Transparency Work for Your Business?

Nina Zipkin is an editorial assistant at Entrepreneur.com.

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