Why did you choose Holacracy and not something other Teal model like Sociocracy?
Lutz, “We didn’t overthink it at the time. We heard of Holacracy. We were able to trust it enough to give it a shot. So, we didn’t do the research, into depths. We just gave it a go.”
How do you overcome the mindset of asking for permission?
Lutz, “The challenge is to create a context where everybody has the tools to make a decision and the data and the courage. They have to know that they won’t be shout at or fired. It is a 2-way process that you want to take seriously.
What is a struggle right now?
Lutz, “I spoke to the other co-founders over lunch today and asked them how they would describe the current state. More courage would be really helpful now. Apparently, we’re still not enabling everybody to do what they need to do.”
Koen, “Maybe your company needs boldness now Lutz, but for other companies: please realize that this journey (this powershift) takes years. So you need compassion and patience too. It simply takes time to lose the parent-child dynamic. Courage helps to explore new ground, but there is no need to stretch the pace of change too far. Your governance structure can reflect current reality and it can evolve from there.
I have an anecdote about that. I coached once in a company where a guy came up to me and said that he hated Holacracy. I asked him why. He replied that the adult-to-adult metaphor we spoke about annoyed him. When he was a boy he loved it, when his parents decided for him where they would go on a summer vacation. He simply loved that, and that was exactly what he wanted in the organization: some decisions should be taken by others than me. I offered him the pathway to propose exactly that in the next Governance meeting that they were about to have. His role was expecting some decisions to be made by other roles – not himself. He proposed roles that decided on his ‘summer vacations’. And it was arranged. Now he loves Holacracy.”
Lutz, “Some people just don’t want to get involved in the responsibility game. And I trust it was a conscious choice they made for themselves.”
What question would help to ask applicants?
Lutz, “Well for me it is still the same as before Holacracy. It is on an emotional level for me. If I can give a handshake and experience that I would probably be able to work with this person, that’s when I decide. Can I – on a personal level – get along with this person in this company? I’ve been proven wrong of course. But it is still true for me.
If you start a new job there is so much to consider. First, that you want to do good at a technical level. And on a social level. And then Holacracy is the third thing to confront them with. But I don’t think we ever had anyone being disappointed when we mentioned that we were interested in self-organization.”
Koen, “If there would be one thing, I would look for sensitivity for tensions. You need people who can sense what can be or should be better in the company. Tension is fuel. Some people have become numb for sensing tensions. For example, because they’ve worked in a hierarchical machine bureaucracy for years and learned that having tensions is not useful because they don’t have the means to process them.”
Has your shareholding changed with the setup of Holacracy to reflect the change in power dynamics? Otherwise, what is the impact of corporate governance (and corresponding power structure) on the effectiveness of Holacracy and the autonomy felt by your employees?
Paul, “I interviewed Brian Robertson recently for a podcast and asked him about the effect of Holacracy on equity relationships. He said that it’s quite neutral. You can listen to the whole interview here.
I see that Holacracy shifts behaviors (which will then prompt a change in thinking and feeling). My current hypothesis is that working to change mindsets by taking a singular approach (i.e., changing actions alone) is insufficient. I am starting to think that a multi-faceted approach would speed adoption (and lower inter-personal issues and “people tensions).
Koen, “Not sure if I fully understand the question. When looking back at our implementations, we don’t spend too much time trying to change mindsets from that angle. In practice I see mindsets change as a result of offering people a new framework/system/ruleset to get things done in the organization, helping them to learn the new behaviors and unlearn some of the old behaviors. From persecutor to the challenger. From victim to creator. From hero to coach.” “We have seen in many cases that helping organizations in the (inter)personal realm with additional training and coaching is supportive to the adoption of Holacracy in the realm of roles (and vice versa)”.
Do you believe Holacracy invites us to use and develop higher levels of emotional intelligence to work more effectively in this structure? Have you experimented with, considered, or invited people in the organization to explore different types of behavioral therapy e.g., CBT or REBT?
Koen, “Yes. I do see that growth in one line of development often catalyzes growth in other lines of development. It is the co-arising that Ken Wilber talks about. I personally don’t know of organizations that work with CBT or REBT, but we have seen and experienced growth thanks to our practice of Systems-Centered® Training. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.”
Have you changed how you work on an individual level when adopting Holacracy? Have you picked up some of the Getting Things Done practices?
Koen, “Before practicing Holacracy, I was already practicing GTD. In our implementations, I do see that many benefits from learning about the GTD habits, when working in a Holacratic context. Apart from that, I see that how I work has become more relaxed. A few examples: I don’t have to carry all of the burdens, I can rely on other roles now. I don’t have to predict and control but can trust I can dynamically steer along the way. I don’t have to prevent causing tensions elsewhere in the system, but can trust that if I do cause tensions for others elsewhere, they can process those tensions themselves.”
Is it true that Holacracy only covers work?