Holacracy ® is a new operating system for organizations. It changes the structure of your organization and the way you make decisions. Power is distributed among clearly defined roles and people use their energy and creativity to perform those roles. It is a highly disciplined way of working that invites everyone to become an entrepreneur, to carry out their role and to cooperate closely in pursuing the purpose of the organization.
Worldwide Holacracy has risen to fame. Several successful companies such as Medium (led by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams) and Zappos , work with Holacracy. In the Netherlands, for example, Springest and Concept7 are among the pioneers.
Holacracy introduces an “agile” approach to the way your organization arranges and controls. Authority is distributed among an organic structure of circles and roles. Each circle operates relatively independently and decides its own roles at highly disciplined governance meetings. In addition, each circle has regular staff meetings. The focus is on transparency and the elimination of blockages.
Tension is Fuel
If you work in an organization, you feel tensions every day. We understand a tension as the difference between the current state of things and the way they could or should be. Often we cannot get rid of these tensions. If these tensions remain unsolved, they can often lead to confusion and frustration. In Holacracy, every employee is a sensor. The tension a person feels, is put into an action or a project. It is the fuel for your organization. So you will always be one step closer to your purpose.
View the presentation “Introduction to Holacracy”
Check out our presentation on SlideShare “Introduction to Holacracy” or read the Holacracy White Paper ‘Discover a better way of working’ prepared by HolacracyOne. It should give you a good idea of what Holacracy is.
How does Holacracy work?
Holacracy provides an organic structure for your organization. You do not design a fixed ideal image of your organization, but work here and now, in real time, in practice, to help your organization evolve and develop.
Holacracy provides a lot of freedom and flexibility. But this is within clear and strict rules. These are stipulated in a document we call the Holacracy Constitution. Each organization signs it when it decides to start working according to the Holacracy system. That way you say “yes” to this way of organizing. Nobody can casually change or ignore the rules. Think of it as a game. The corner flags are determined and within that there is room to experiment and discover.
Roles replace functions
In Holacracy one roles, rather than functions. People constantly look into to the work that is necessary to achieve the purpose of your organization. Work consists of a number of roles that have clearly stipulated responsibilities. Various roles form a circle. You do not work on an ideal design of the organization as a whole, but rather, you continuously discover and improve roles. It is a dynamic system that allows you to evolve.
Effective types of meetings
Tactical meetings and governance meetings are like the thread of Holacracy. The first is a frequent consultation that focuses on the (operational) work in the organization. The governance meeting type is less frequent and is about working on the organization (organizational development). A facilitator guides the consultations according to a tight schedule.
The tactical meetings are held regularly, with the people who have roles in your circle. You create an agenda on the fly, based on existing tensions. You work with real data and facts, here and now. Tensions get clarified and turned into actionable items that solve impediments. The facilitator is there to make sure the meeting stays on track and does not exceed the timeframe allocated for it.
Each person that has a tension during the governance meeting makes a proposal that aims to solve it. Through a process of integrative decision-making, we look whether the proposal is a step forward for the organization. We make sure that it does not put us backwards and it is not harmful. Everyone has a voice and can bring an objection to the proposal if they have one. An objection is valid if it meets several criteria. The proposal becomes a decision if it is workable for everyone.
Step by step, organizations undergo a continuous evolution. The decisions are not cast in concrete. During each governance meeting, each person that has taken on a role gets a chance to convert his or her tension into a new step forward.