Holocracy: Leadership From Inside Out

Holacracy is a real-world-tested social technology for purposeful organization. It radically changes how an organization is structured, how decisions are made, and how power is distributed.Implementing holocracy means that CEOs give up some level of power. The advantage is that they get to view their company through an entirely different vantage point. But it’s an adjustment for both leaders and employees.

Even in the most competitive organizations people are told what to do to some degree. We think of ‘work’ in a traditional paradigm. Direction comes down, escalations go up.

One of the core principles of holocracy is people taking personal accountability for their work. They determine their hours, vacation, their trajectory. It is not leaderless. There are certainly people who hold a bigger scope of purpose for the organization than others. However, leadership is more widely distributed across all roles and organizations are flatter as a result.

Key Principles

  1. Organize Differently
    Holacracy is a comprehensive practice for structuring, governing, and running an organization. It replaces today’s top-down predict-and-control paradigm with a new way of achieving control by distributing power. It is a new “operating system” that instills rapid evolution in the core processes of an organization.
  2. Management Without Managers
    Holacracy places the seat of organizational power in an explicit process, one which organizes around an explicit purpose. This allows emergent behavior of the whole system, without being controlled by either a single heroic leader or even the collective group.
  3. Tensions Drive Adaptation
    Tension, n.: The felt-sense of a specific gap between current reality and a sensed potential.Holacracy provides channels so anyone who senses a tension can process it into organizational evolution. People become the sensors of a conscious organization, driving its continual evolution.
  4. Crystal Clear Accountabilities
    With Holacracy at play, if an expectation isn’t explicitly defined via a governance process, no one has a right to expect it. This removes the need for organizational politics and centralized power to work around lack of clarity. The substitute is a clear process to identify what expectations are needed to express the organization’s purpose.
  5. Purpose As Bottom Line
    The Holacracy governance process is not governance “of the people, by the people, and for the people” – it is governance of the organization, through the people, for the purpose. It enables the organization to find and express its deepest creative capacity.

In Practice

Holocratic organizations are have no employees (only partners), no managers (just distributed authority), and no owners controlling it (just investors along for the ride). All power vests in the Holacracy Constitution, and all partners take part in the organization’s governance.

When this is poorly implemented, it’s just theory.

When it’s lived, it truly is a wonderful place to be.

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