Holacracy: a first post

My sister, Bronwyn, is in town at the moment. One of our jokes that we’ve shared for a long time is that Bron, who is in the advertising game, should ‘get’ digital because that was what was happening to the whole world. It’s an obvious joke, one we used to giggle about all the time because it was so obvious. Digital was inevitable, of course, but it still felt somewhat futuristic to say it years ago. Today, I had my first early taste of something else that seemed similar. Of what work could be like in ‘the future’ when you use something like Holacracy to govern your actions and interactions amongst a team.

Bear with me, I’ll try not to let this become one of those posts where I ramble on about the future. Like the joke, I think a lot of this has already arrived. I’ll just share my experience and let that speak for itself.

Earlier today, I was on a call with a group of folks working on The Responsive Org. Early on, we agreed to essentially turn the meeting into a governance meeting and set up a basic version of Holacracy for the team to use. Aaron played the role of facilitator and guided us through it. I must say, it was liberating. I’ve been hesitant and doubtful about Holacracy before – and I’m not wholly convinced of it’s supreme powers just yet – but today was good. It did all the things it’s supposed to. It brought clarity to our group and the individuals inside it. It helped us clear some tensions to allow us to get back to the DOing and it also distributed the various authorities we all hold amongst the group. I was impressed.

Holacracy is somewhat open source. It’s a written set of instructions for how to run an organisation and as such, those instructions are very malleable. It’s very easy to say say that’s it’s too hard or takes too much work to implement. And you’d be right. I’ve said those same things myself. But I’m keen to trying it out more. As hard as it might be to use right now, I believe that this kind of ‘operating system’ or a variant like it will be used more widely later on to run and operate our organisations. That may mean not implementing it fully just yet, but trying it in teams or even just various meetings. Who knows. Food for thought. I’m still processing this one.

Like digital was inevitable, we know that people are going to continue wanting their professional roles to be more autonomous, more purposeful and (to continue cribbing from Dan Pink) more connected to what they want to be masterful in. Who knows, maybe Bron and I will be joking one day soon about how she should ‘get’ Holacratic.