‘About Holacracy’ Blog

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Holacracy® is a radical new way of running and scaling responsive companies. By empowering people throughout the organization to drive meaningful change, the Holacracy practice unleashes an organization’s untapped power to pursue its purpose in the world. - Medium. You can also follow this blog directly on Medium.

Introducing Tags in GlassFrog®

December 4, 2017 - 4:51pm
A Little Something to Support Innovation in Your Organization

Many folks in Holacracy-powered organizations are experimenting with new approaches to business. These folks have pioneered radically new peer-to-peer approaches for things like performance reviews, budgeting, salary, and more.

To support this entrepreneurial spirit, we’ve added GlassFrog Tags, designed to help our fellow Holacracy® practitioners as they innovate.

Now, anyone in your organization can add tags to policies, roles, or people, and find things by tags in the search results. There’s also a history of who added what for increased transparency and auditability.

Here’s how it works:

The Tag Page & History

When you create a tag, you automatically create a new page for the tag that shows everyone what policies, roles, or people are associated with the tag. You can also enter a description for the tag or add any other useful information.

The tag page shows all of the policies tagged “Spending Auth”

When you view the tag page, you can also access the tag history to see what’s happened with this particular tag.

The history for the tag “Spending Auth” shows who added the tag to each policy and whenPolicies

Policies can sometimes be a challenge to organize and find.

Now you can add tags to policies outside of meetings so that you can group them together. You can also add meaningful keywords that folks may use to search for policies — even if those keywords don’t show up in the policy itself.

The policy titled “Spending Authorization — Base Process” has been tagged as “Spending Auth”

For example, if you have multiple policies related to your organization’s budgeting process, you can add a “budgeting” tag to allow anyone to find them all with a single search.


Tagging roles works the same way that tagging of policies does. You can create a tag and add it to any roles within the organization.

The “Developer” role has two tags — “software” and “technical”

Here are a few possible uses:

  • Group roles by field or area like “financial” or “technical”
  • Add all of the skill sets needed to fill a role like “software development” or “legal expertise”
  • Make it easier for new people to find all of the roles involved in a specific process like “compensation”

However you use it, tagging allows you to create an overview of relevant roles filtered by these tags.


Have some folks who are part-time? You can create a tag and tag them. Have some folks with specific skillsets or accreditations? You can use tags for that too.

Lewis is tagged with “software” and “technical” tags

And since tags can be shared across people, roles, and policies, you can see when people and roles share a tag in common.

Pretty cool, right?

At HolacracyOne, we use a badge-based compensation system and we’re pretty excited to experiment with tags to track who holds which badges.

Search by Tags

And my favorite part: GlassFrog’s search will return all results with matching tags. This is especially helpful for policies where common search terms don’t show up in the body of the policy. Or for matching roles tagged with a particular skill to a person tagged with that skill.

This search page shows both the roles and the policies with the “Spending Auth” tagAPI and Integrations

We’ve also made adding, editing, and removing tags available through the API for easier integration with your other systems. See our API documentation for more details, or contact us for help.

We’ve got plans to continue evolving and improving tags, so don’t forget to reach out and give us your feedback if you have ideas. We’d love to hear how you’ll use them, too, so feel free to reach out just to share!


If you’re on our Premium pricing plan, then tagging is already available to you!

If not, you can contact us for help with upgrading.

Want more details? Check out this tagging article in our GlassFrog Knowledge Base.

Introducing Tags in GlassFrog® was originally published in About Holacracy on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

» More blog posts directly on the "About Holacracy" collection on Medium.

List Next Actions (Not Just Projects)

November 22, 2017 - 12:30pm
Sneak Peek #3: Holacracy® Habits

We all face rapid change. In our personal and work lives. Increasingly, our work doesn’t show up pre-defined for us.

More than any time in history, we must figure out what to do before we can do it.

But complex problems don’t always need complex solutions. Which is why David Allen’s Getting Things Done(GTD ®) methodology recommends a simple five word question, “What is the next action?”

This question alone can immediately cut through most of the complexity in our way.

David recommends we abandon the traditional “to-do” list, but only because we need to get our minds even more clear. Instead of having one single to-do list, we actually need two lists. One for projects and one for next-actions.

Here’s why:

You Can’t “Do” a Project

Most of us have used to-do lists. We love them because, through the simple act of writing something down, it unburdens our mind.

But there’s a problem.

Most lists include things like:

• Website redesign
• Contract to John
• Clean garage

So what’s the issue?

You can’t “do” a website redesign. You can’t “do” a contract to John or a dentist appointment. GTD ® tells us each of these to-do list items is actually a multi-step outcome (i.e. a project), meaning it requires many shorter actions to complete it.

The next-action for the website redesign may be “schedule a meeting with the designer.” Or even before that, “email the designer for availability.”

Deciding is Often Harder than Doing

Many times we procrastinate acting on something because there are decisions that we haven’t made yet. Time passes, and a month later, we still haven’t moved forward on that website redesign.

Often, the reason is simple: We haven’t yet asked ourselves, “What’s the next physical action I can take on this?”

If you just write down “Clean garage” on a list, you’ll have to stop and consider what to do every time you look at it.

However, if you write down “buy more trash bags,” you’ll be able to take quick action when you’re in the grocery store.

When we’re in the mood to get going, the last thing we want is to stop and try to decide what we need to do. So, give your brain a break and do the deciding beforehand.

That way, when you’re in the mood to do, you can get right to it.


GlassFrog® users on the Premium Plan can access our Holacracy Habits Support Program. This program delivers sequenced, bite-size lessons to build the skills and habits essential to Holacracy practice.

Need help upgrading to Premium? Want free support migrating to GlassFrog from another role-based software?

Contact us: https://glassfrog.com/contact/

List Next Actions (Not Just Projects) was originally published in About Holacracy on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

» More blog posts directly on the "About Holacracy" collection on Medium.

Cultural observations on self-management and Holacracy in China

November 8, 2017 - 5:22am

I had no expectations coming to Shanghai to speak on Holacracy, at The First China Organizational Evolution Forum. I was maybe too busy with day to day business, considering my trip something exotic that I just had to experience. Talking to a few dozen Chinese people, I realise I was right, and wrong. Right, because I was open to be surprised and had no judgment. Wrong, because the cliche is true: China is now moving so fast that you should pay close attention.

Important disclaimer: I spoke to maybe 50 people, who represented many diverse companies. From Alibaba-big (60.000 employees) to startups of a few hundred people that its founder would call small. People interested in these topics are no doubt the forerunners, and I will just generalise them and say “they, the Chinese” because I care for the potential and not the correctness :)They’re ready to be vulnerable

I heard some founders of “small” Chinese tech-companies talk very openly about discovering their personal weaknesses. Small company means 250 or 800 employees here, by the way. I felt extra humble, with 50 Springest colleagues running Holacracy in the past 5+ years.

In a panel on personal leadership as “ex-CEO’s” these founders shared their fears of not able to inspire their employees to take initiative. And the risk they run if they don’t trust their employees to make decisions. At the same time acknowledging their tendency to command their troops*, because we have businesses to run and goals to achieve.

Over lunch I talked to one founder extensively through 2 Chinese — English interpreting colleagues, about his trouble to motivate employees in a non-extrinsic way, about his doubts about Lead Links “demanding” overwork from their circle members, etc. I was really impressed with his openness and willingness to let his ego not get in the way.

They’re moving (too) fast

On every slide from every speaker where there was a model with “rules” to follow, half of the crowd got out their phones to make a picture. Likely to WeChat it back to their colleagues to start learning from those principles right away. As if one slide can hold the solution, simply to be implemented to quickly beat the competition. I often felt that they are so eager to quickly adopt, that they do it before really understanding. I’m not even sure this is a problem though: they might just get enough of the methods to combine their execution power with a bit more efficiency so that they’ll get there sooner than those who patiently figure out all the nuances of self organising methodologies.

Let’s not forget we’re still at the beginning anyway. The current systems are not “done”, nor will they ever be. So understanding everything might be a paradox of self-management: to study it very thoroughly means falling in the same predict and control trap that we try so hard to avoid.

We’re different but also very similar

In more than a few discussions, we turned to human nature versus culture. Yes, culture can be in the way of adopting self organisation. The Netherlands is showing to be a more fertile ground for new Holacracy adoptions than even Germany and the United States. Yes, China is much more anchored to centralised management and very strong top down leadership.

But people are just as resourceful, can be just as driven by a purpose or a dream. Many employees are at least as disengaged as their Western counterparts. And like all evolved monkeys, we love to feel safe, be in a group and follow a strong leader. Their leaders recognise these human traits and want to address them to increase the potential of their organisation.

It will all converge

We all have to figure out how to organise ourselves in ways that make organisations last. Hopefully, that way will also be healthy for humans. The west can learn from China just as much as they can learn from us. In any case, our companies and cultures will converge naturally because the world is still getting smaller (or was it more flat?). So we will have to learn from each other and I’m very happy to have had the opportunity.

*Military style is mentioned often as the “old way”, top down. But the army is actually going in the direction of self-organisation, because especially on the battlefield there is no time to wait for decisions from above.

Cultural observations on self-management and Holacracy in China was originally published in About Holacracy on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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How Your Organisation Can Thrive in a Disruptive Market with Demanding Customers and a Millennial…

November 2, 2017 - 9:34am
How Your Organization Can Thrive in a Disruptive Market with Demanding Customers and a Millennial Workforce

Here are some astonishing figures:

  • According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months.
  • Only 50% of businesses with employees survive their fifth year in business.
  • Of the companies on the Fortune 500 list in 1955, only 12% remain. The rest either went bankrupt, merged, acquired or fell off the list.

This looks bleak. Businesses today are not able to survive the pace of change.

Whole industries are getting disrupted, and it’s impossible to predict what’s coming.

Yet, there are some compelling reasons why there’s never been a better time to start a business.

  • Accessible funding. You no longer have to wait in long lines to raise funding. Services like Kickstarter and Crowdfunder allow you to get the capital you need to fund your idea.
  • Lower costs. Cheaper and better technology has lowered the barrier to entry, speeding distribution channels and reducing overheads.
  • Attract global talent. It’s easier now, thanks to the Internet, to establish & maintain a global workforce. You can attract talent at more affordable costs.
  • New opportunities opening up. As the population grows, people's interests and preferences are fragmenting. This is giving rise to several untapped niches available for entrepreneurs to fill.

As a business owner, I’m always searching for ways to help my organization thrive and at the same time protect it from the threats of a rapidly changing world.

I’ve found the key lies in understanding the role of power in today’s world.

The Decay of Power and What It Means For Your Organization

Power is shifting.

Smaller, more innovative players are displacing the more traditional powerhouses of the global economy. We’ve seen in front of our eyes how:

  • Amazon has replaced bookstores and other retailers
  • Netflix has taken over Blockbuster
  • Uber is killing taxi companies
  • Airbnb is now the largest provider of travel accommodations

There are many such examples of power-shifts. However that’s the not full story. Power is not just shifting from one company to another.

Power is decaying.

Moises Naim observed in his book, The End of Power the three trends that are eroding the barriers to holding power:

  • The “more revolution” — there are more of us, and we have more resources — overwhelms power.
  • The “mobility revolution” circumvents power by moving people and information further and faster.
  • And the “mentality revolution” undermines it by making people less deferential.

As the barriers that keep power in place are eroding, those who have power find it difficult to use and easy to lose.

“The decay of power is an exhilarating trend in the sense that it has made space for new ventures, new companies and all over the world, new voices and more opportunities. But its consequences for stability are fraught with danger.” ~ Moises Naim

Here are some ways the decay of power can impact your organization:

  • Without being able to adapt to changing times, new startups and competitors that are entering the market ready to displace you.
  • With an increasing number of options available, your customer’s taste’s and preferences have become more nuanced. Unless you’re able to cater to it, they’ll move to other options.
  • Millennials form the largest generational workforce. They want more power in the form of freedom and autonomy in their work. Unless your organization has a system to distribute power effectively, it’ll be difficult to retain your most talented team members.

Without the ability to effectively manage and organize power, the organization’s stability, and it’s ability to get work done, decreases.

Current Structures Make it Difficult to Get Things Done

If we plot the decay of power on the x-axis and stability on the y-axis, this is how it would look like:

On the extreme left power is concentrated. Organizations here have a command and control system to manage power.

It’s not a bad system. It was a useful model for almost a century. However, with the decaying of power, this system is too rigid. It creates autocratic leaders, bureaucracy and the reliance on few people to get things moving.

Have you ever been in organizations where you need to get everyone’s “buy-in” to get anything done? This is what happens when power decays to the right.

Here power has decayed to such an extent that the organization has become paralyzed. It’s complicated to move forward because everything requires the consent of other members.

In the absence of an effective system to manage power, as power decays in an organization it becomes a system of Vetocracy.

“A vetocracy refers to a dysfunctional system of governance whereby no single entity can acquire enough power to make decisions and take effective charge.”

Even though it may seem like a nice to get everyone’s agreement before moving forward, in practice, it paralyzes the members to make critical decisions to move the organization forward.

Holacracy — A New Social Technology To Organize Power in Pursuit of Purpose“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ~ Richard Buckminster Fuller

Frederic Laloux documents in this book, Reinventing Organizations a new generation of organizations characterized by self-organization, evolutionary purpose, and wholeness. He calls them “teal” organizations.

They’re at the cutting edge of what the future of organizations are going to be like, and demonstrate new ways of managing power in an organization.
But if you want to implement them in your organization, they’re very difficult to replicate, because their respective systems evolved out of their unique cultures.

However, there was one exception in Laloux’s book, HolacracyOne. It runs on an “installable” self-management system called Holacracy. Tom Thomison, co-founder of HolacracyOne, defined it as:

“Holacracy is a complete wholesale replacement of the Management Hierarchy. It’s exploring work in pursuit of purpose.”

Holacracy is a new social technology that any organization can adopt to self-organize. Instead of people holding power, the power lies with the constitution which has a set of rules on how to distribute authority to roles in the organization.

As I adopted Holacracy in my organizations, I experienced a new way of managing power other than the command and control, top-down hierarchical way.

Here I’ll share with you five ways Holacracy organizes power, and how it can help meet the demands of a rapidly changing world.

5 Ways Holacracy Organizes Power to Thrive in a Rapidly Changing World1. Meet Your New Boss — Purpose

An organization running under the Management Hierarchy, also has a purpose, but you don’t have the freedom to express it directly.

You have a manager, who has a boss and maybe another boss. And unless you all see eye to eye, you won’t have the freedom to fully express your purpose.

In a Management Hierarchy the purpose of the organization gets diluted and filtered through the levels of authority.

In Holacracy, a direct purpose-to-purpose relationship runs through the organization. People pursue work that aligns with their purpose.

There’s no central authority or managers. You don’t have people managing people. You have purpose agents who self-organize under the Holacracy constitution and engage in the work of the organization.

2. Yup. You’re the Leader. You Lead Your Role(s).

You may be wondering, are there any leaders in an organization without a hierarchy?

Yes. Everyone’s a leader, but it’s a different kind of leadership. In Management Hierarchy Leaders lead people. In Holacracy, people lead “roles”.

In a Management Hierarchy leaders lead peopleIn Holacracy people lead roles

Each role has a clear purpose and accountabilities expected of them. Once a person energizes a role, the constitution grants them full authority to do what is necessary to fulfill the purpose of their role(s).

For example, if you’re in a role called Web Designer that has the accountability of updating the website with the product details, you don’t need permission to make updates. You don’t have to have long meetings to get everyone’s buy-in. As long as you work within the bounds of the constitution, you have full authority to get the work done.

In that sense, you lead your role.

“It (Holacracy) is a system where everyone has autocratic authority but they know the bounds of that authority. They know the interconnections, they know when they have to get someone else’s input. They know what they can expect of each other.” — Brian Robertson

No more single heroic leader that everyone looks to for answers. In Holacarcy, everyone is a hero, called upon to lead their roles.

3. It’s not Hierarchical or Flat. It’s Holarchic.

Because Holacracy is a replacement of the Management Hierarchy, it’s often confused with being a flat organization, without a structure.

In fact, Holacracy is often more structured than a Management Hierarchy. But it’s not a structure of people, it’s a structure of roles.

Think of a human body. Each cell function autonomously within organs, which in turn function autonomously within the body. There’s no CEO cell that tells other cells what to do.

Similarly in Holacracy power is held by roles, not people, and those roles gain power through a governance process, not from a boss delegating it. Each role is autonomous with a clear boundary and purpose.

What emerges is a lot of clarity and freedom for people to use the power within their roles to get work done.

4. In a Conflict? There’s no Manager to go to. Use the Process to channel your tension.

As you rise up the ranks of a Management Hierarchy, you’ll soon realize that a lot of your energy goes into managing people and not doing work that directly adds value to your customer.

That’s because it’s the role of the manager to create alignment, especially when there’s a conflict.

But how do you resolve conflicts in an organization without managers?

For that, you need a process. A process that aligns and integrates. In Holacracy, anyone can use the governance process defined by the constitution to remove what is in the way of their Role’s work.

It removes the need to have managers, and lets each person be autonomous.

There’s very little room to be a victim. Do you have a problem? You don’t need a manager to take care of you. You can use the process to take care of your role’s work.

“Get the ongoing process right, and it will keep generating ongoing benefits. In our new era, processes trump products.” Kevin Kelly

This frees up energy which people can use in their work.

5. A Responsive Conscious Organization

How does an organization adapt to changing times?

A Management Hierarchy is a rigid structure that is designed upfront to address a certain need. So the only way to adapt is to go through re-organizations that are painful, disorienting and expensive.

Holacracy allows for incremental changes. Any tension sensed by anyone in the organization has some place to go to get rapidly and reliably processed into meaningful change.

These changes result in small changes to the structure, just enough to meet the demand.

“We process that tension to change the design, we express that design, and we test it and start the cycle over again. This is how Holacracy introduces the innovation of evolution inside our companies.” ~ Brian Robertson

Instead of a master architect applying a perfect structure up front, Holacracy uses the power of evolutionary process to meet the demand of changing times.

Power is Decaying. Is Your Organization Ready?“Power is changing in so many areas that it will be impossible to avoid important transformations in the way humanity organizes itself to make the decisions it needs to survive and progress.” ~ Moises Naim

The forces at play are accelerating the decay of power. And not doing anything threatens the existence of our organizations. You do not want to be in the 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who fail in the first 18 months.

The reinvention of work is no longer a choice.

But we don’t have to be carried away by these forces. By adopting new social technologies, our organization can not only survive, but thrive.

Getting Started with Holacracy

Here are some resources to get started with Holacracy

Holacracy.org Official website. Check out their Tactical & Governance Meeting Formats.

Holacracy Book by Brian Robertson, co-founder of Holacracy. This is a comprehensive book to get started with Holacracy. Foreword by David Allen.

Holacracy Comic Book

Book: Reinventing Organizations An amazing book on the evolution of management and the emergence of self-managed organizations.

Ted Talk by Brian Robertson. If you don’t have time to read any of the above books, watch this video.

Attend a free introductory webinar

How Your Organisation Can Thrive in a Disruptive Market with Demanding Customers and a Millennial… was originally published in About Holacracy on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

» More blog posts directly on the "About Holacracy" collection on Medium.

A Better Way to Facilitate Holacracy® Governance Meetings

October 3, 2017 - 3:19pm
Why You Need to Encourage Objections

This way of facilitating is a bit nuanced, so I recorded a short intro and explanations for each step. Comments and responses related to this post are hosted on the Holacracy Community of Practice.

  • The whole process is about Present Proposal (PP) and Objection Round (OR) — other steps just help those two things.
  • Facilitator needs to convey BOTH “Protect Proposer” energy AND “Encourage Objector” energy (most Facilitators only do the first).
  • Most Facilitators emphasize coaching in the Reaction Round rather than leveraging the Objection Round — that’s a mistake.
  • This distinction is important for facilitating circles of any skill level.
https://medium.com/media/f89f8792b5e26282167156b327ffe2b9/hrefPresent Proposalhttps://medium.com/media/1829935ccac9f34ae47e4071931c71ab/hrefClarifying Questionshttps://medium.com/media/dea3e781bd729779d309a1d88b60c2bf/hrefReaction Roundhttps://medium.com/media/8adab6319b59ed118c67b29de55ae697/hrefAmend & Clarifyhttps://medium.com/media/6ffe18003a83c57890bf78cabc06f39f/hrefObjection Round: Part 1 — Framinghttps://medium.com/media/4512ffe3350777dd9471b4ed4863c56b/hrefObjection Round: Part 2-Testing Objectionhttps://medium.com/media/f60e4374327ba86989b9d20aed578680/hrefIntegrationhttps://medium.com/media/d22507ac9aeb7ef4ba06b51b4555b30a/hrefConclusion:

I hope this was helpful. Remember, feeling completely comfortable with testing objections is the key. Encourage them. And if you’re not completely comfortable, encourage them anyway, because it’s the only way to get comfortable.

A Better Way to Facilitate Holacracy® Governance Meetings was originally published in About Holacracy on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

» More blog posts directly on the "About Holacracy" collection on Medium.

A CEO Reflects on Holacracy

September 24, 2017 - 5:08am

The David Allen Company, known for its revolutionary Getting Things Done (GTD) method, is a California-based global training and consulting company, and is widely considered an authority in the fields of organizational and personal productivity.

In 2011, the company adopted Holacracy ®. They are currently one of the most vocal supporters of the Holacracy practice.

These are excerpts from a 2013 conversation with former David Allen Co. CEO Mike Williams.

The Decision to Adopt

From 2006–2010, the David Allen Co. was going through a transition as a small company trying to grow. Around 2010 David Allen returned as CEO to help redefine its vision of success. Around the same time, he met Brian Robertson at a Conscious Capitalism conference. They immediately struck a chord with each other.

The idea that an ‘operational’ organization system could help companies grow and succeed, similar to what GTD had done at the individual level, held great resonance for David.

I think David saw within Holacracy a system that would allow people to have authority, make decisions, and act on their own accord to do what is right for the business and the customer — while clearly specifying that back into roles and accountabilities in order to help the company grow and achieve its purpose.

In 2011, David wanted to bring in a new leader for the organization, and he approached me. Having spent over 20 years in the healthcare industry with larger companies, I was then with General Electric and ready for a change. My ideal scenario was a smaller organization doing really good work. The fit seemed right. As we talked, David brought up Holacracy; it was so important to him that he baked it into my employment agreement.

Learning a New Way to WorkOnce a company adopts Holacracy, it’s almost like being acquired by a different company. These new rules are not for everyone. You have to decide, are you in or out? Once you self-select in, you have to learn the game and become the best player you can be.

. . .

My contrast point in comparing Holacracy is what I was used to in other companies, which was probably similar to the David Allen Co. prior to implementing Holacracy. You have a hierarchical chain of command. As the CEO, you say something, reach down into the organization, and say in essence, ‘Make it so.’

Contrasting before and after adopting Holacracy, there’s a bit of deprogramming you have to do to encourage people to step into their accountabilities.

Many times they are used to the pattern of being told what to do, and they suddenly hear, ‘Now it’s up to you to consult, analyze, and execute — it’s your authority, and as a sensor of the company we expect that of you.’

There’s a conscious change in behavior that needs to become less hidden and more explicit. There’s a transition period that people have to work through. Holacracy is very dependent upon having people in the right roles who are self-motivated and can act.

Holacracy as a Tool

One of the things that Holacracy brings to the table is rhythm and structure. You show up and practice within a solid framework. Having the rhythm be consistent at every level of the organization removes a lot of thinking about the meeting, like how do we have it, what’s the purpose, and what’s the outcome. It simply becomes part of the cloth, part of the fabric.

You arrive at a governance meeting. Everyone knows the rules; they’re well-defined. Those patterns start leading people to study what’s in the structures.

You can use any tool in strategic or non-strategic ways. Holacracy is very much garbage in, garbage out. If you program it to focus on lower value-add stuff, then that is what you’ll achieve. If you focus on higher value stuff, then more meaningful actions and results will come out on the other end.Reorganizing with Holacracy

Recently, we reorganized our company using Holacracy. Originally, we were structured as departments. Over several months, it became clear that some natural value streams within our company were getting clogged up because of how they were structured. Work was not flowing. It was ping-ponging off the different departments.

We restructured our organization into three value streams with a clear customer at the end of each. We now use the structure to help push work through the value streams to get to the customer with fewer handoffs and touch points. Before, we had questions on who has authority on the profit and loss; now it is crystal clear.

We changed the structure, yet the meta-framework never changed. When we implemented the new structure, many people changed circles and roles, and some of the people around them changed too, but the rhythm stayed the same.

We did the re-org over two weeks with the input of the whole team. Everyone could integrate tensions. Done.

With that kind of restructuring in a ‘command-and-control’ organization, it takes longer. You have more politics. Holacracy brings less politics to the conversation because the rules define the process and people’s objections can be heard and integrated.

Metrics and Deadlines

Metrics, coming from GE and that kind of world, are an output of a process. You have different processes within the work that you do which have inputs and outputs.

With Holacracy, you can still project dates or deadlines, but it’s done less from a predict-and-control perspective, and it’s not hard-coded.

Holacracy drives you into the DNA of what makes up a metric. The hidden part is workflow, which doesn’t necessarily jump out in a meeting. I think it’s a fabric that you have to weave together.

Onboarding into Holacracy

Before ‘onboarding’ comes the hiring process — probably one of the most critical processes of the business. A good hire will bring good results to the business and a bad hire, frankly, is costly. It is so important to make sure we have the right selection criteria.

We worked to identify key competencies in individuals to help determine if they are a good fit for the organization. We defined ten of them that we use in our interview process. This is helping us bring people into the company who are a better fit.

With respect to the onboarding, we have an onboarding procedure that introduces people to Holacracy — the basics. The real work begins in the tactical and governance meetings. We also have an ongoing group where we share learning and questions. We’ve had situations where tensions could have been resolved through the normal course of business, but people were not showing up at meetings. This goes back to the notion of being acquired by an organization and the different rules. You have to re-enlist.

Calibrating the Team

The work of the organization actually gets done with the individual — on what we call in the GTD methodology the runway level. Someone has to choose to do the action. When you hop up into a tactical meeting, you integrate as a team.

What I really like about Holacracy is that it brings the structure to the team intersection level, and institutes a rhythm where people can recalibrate and then have that inform their own work.

Ideally. When that works, it works well. It can run astray if people forget about the work, and just play the game of Holacracy. You can show up and throw anything into the system and take time processing it. I hope people bring high quality input into the system, so we can move the key things forward for the business. For me, it all comes back down to integrating the individual work.

The structure of the tactical meeting is beautiful, and you can fine-tune and adjust along the way. Similar to a trek through the wilderness, the tactical meeting helps ensure that we don’t get too far off course.

Positive Markers

I mentioned how we restructured the company. Holacracy made that a very smooth process.

As a result of that change, we increased our visibility to key company information and metrics. The change to this new form is raising new questions around growth, underlying business assumptions, revenue and costs. It also pushed the answer to these questions further down into the organization. I view the increase in questions and pushing the decision-making authority down as positive markers.

On GTD and Holacracy

The GTD method and Holacracy borrow on a lot of the core principles and good behaviors.

In GTD methodology, we have the five phases of work.

  1. Collect Stuff. Why do we do this? So we know where the stuff is. Usually people go right from collect to organize, and skip the second piece, which is process.
  2. Process. This is the thinking process to make sure you are working on high value work.
  3. Organize that into the system. In GTD, these are the project and action lists, and in Holacracy this intersects in tactical meetings.
  4. Review. Based on the lists I have prepared, what can I select that can advance the highest value work?
  5. Do. Do what you have selected.

The ideal state for me would be that people are always trying to choose the highest value thing for themselves and the business, and let these structures help in that decision-making process.


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