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A Summary of

Here's Why You Should Care About Holacracy

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First Round Review
First Round Review
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Holacracy is a responsive methodology and credible alternative to Command & Control (C&C) which is a framework that has been widely used to run whole companies for decades.

  • Holacracy is defined as a comprehensive practice for structuring, governing and running an organization, replacing today's top-down, predict-and-control paradigm a.k.a. C&C with a new way of achieving control by distributing power.
  • In the past C&C was the primary operating model because people wanted to maximize predictability and eliminate surprises.
  • However, in terms of C&C, creating rigid, long-term plans does not work when the solution to a problem is unpredictable.
  • C&C companies that utilize traditional hierarchies can only change as quickly as leadership changes.
  • Holacracy allows companies to distribute authority and decision-making to all of their employees with the goal of increasing their capacity to learn and empowering them to respond to change.
  • The most surprising aspect of Holacracy may be how much it relies on rules and process.

Holacracy Explained

  • Holacracy prioritizes rapid iteration over static policies because working on the right thing is just as important, if not more, as how hard you are working.
  • It emphasizes self-organizing adapting teams over static teams to create hierarchically structured teams/circles that zero in on important and relevant issues with precision and adaptability.
  • Holacracy centers role over soul, so there can be more roles than employees and one employee can take on more than one role.
  • It also centers role over rank, so each circle has a Lead Link that has authority but does not tell people how to do their job.
  • Holacracy places the why and who over the how and what, so more time is spent arguing about who should be able to decide and why that was not clear to begin with.
  • It positions networks over hierarchies because effective problem-solving often requires a cross-functional or multi-disciplinary approach.
  • Holacracy fosters a "safe to try" space in which proposals for change are taken often because even mistakes lead to learning and faster course correcting.
  • It encourages documentation over tribal knowledge to increase transparency and reduce confusion because it favors transparency over privacy.

Takeaways

  • A Holacratic company is not foolproof by any means, but it provides a basic structure that helps you make the rules transparent, easy to change, and to increase the rate at which you change them.
  • The biggest challenge of Holacracy is how different it feels from C&C and other operating models.
  • Holacracy gives power to the process because it acknowledges that human power structures are difficult and tremendous forces to tame.
  • Holacracy is not a panacea¬†or definitive replacement for C&C, but it is a viable alternative that will likely only improve with time and iterations.
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