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What IS Holacracy? Find Out If Your Company Is Ready for this Future of Work Model

July 15, 2015

There has been much media attention around holacracy particularly since Zappos has integrated the model into its business over the past few years. Many organizations are keeping an eye out to see what the ‘holes’ are in the system and interestedly watching Zappos as a ‘beta’ test for other companies.

In this post I want to share more about the details of holacracy and the mindset shift checklist that will let you know if your company is ready to embrace the concepts of ‘shared leadership’ and ‘no more hierarchy’.

The structure of holacracy consists of a circles approach, circles are teams of employees and the focus is to make ‘everyone a leader’ in his or her role. Research has shown that the optimal size of a team is six people – lean and small enough for fast decisions and action and not too big to create hierarchy or jockeying for power. Herein lies one of the success factors for holacracy – small teams with each team member having multiple roles. This approach is very different than the traditional structure of organization chart and job descriptions. With multiple roles employees can demonstrate his or her full range of skills and continue to learn, grow and share (all of the top ‘wants’ of employees) while being able to see his or her impact on the business right away.

When teams are organized into cross-functional teams, the goal then becomes creating the highest level of outcome for clients.
Many organizations say they want to focus on highest level outcome for clients but the systems and structures in place inhibit the ability to deliver. By giving power of decision to individuals and circles with focus on customer happiness there is a culture of empowered decision making that benefits the overall business.
Traditional businesses fear that giving decision making ability to ‘non leaders’ will create chaos when in fact what it does is create a culture of employees who focus on win-win for customer and business. Air Canada is a great example of this with their focus on ‘bringing decision making’ to all levels within the organization. I profile them in my new book, “The Art of Change Leadership – Driving Transformation In a Fast Paced World”
Is your company ready for holacracy? Is it on its way towards a shared leadership model? Or are you firmly entrenched in a system that needs to transform?
The answers to the following questions will help you to know:
1. Do you have a CEO and executive team who is will to democratize power? To have the same rules for everyone?
2. Do you have a ‘sharing’ mentality in your culture where people are focused on collaboration and innovation over personal goals?
3. Do you have leaders who are willing to share knowledge across departments for the overall betterment of the customer experience?
4. Do you have people who are flexible, able to move away from habitual work approaches and who are willing to innovate?
The above questions are yes or no answers and if you answered “yes’ to all you are definitely on your way to a holacracy approach, if you answered ‘no’ to all questions you have the opportunity to develop the mindset and approach of your leaders and teams and if you answered ‘yes’ to a few and ‘no’ to a few you have the opportunity to work on leadership development, improved communication and change leadership strategies.
Feel free to download this What Is Holacracy? Infographic and print it off – refer to it – and use it as inspiration for your journey towards a shared leadership workplace.

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