Why did we turn to Holacracy?

The history of Philippe Pinault, CEO and founder of talkSpirit

TalkSpirit Team

I have been an entrepreneur for fifteen years, and like every entrepreneur I am anxious to develop a framework within which we can all give our best individually as well as achieve the best possible performance as a group. Like every leader I must have spent hundreds of hours thinking about our organization and how to optimize it, how to break down the work into different functions and then turn these into job descriptions, procedures, rules,… more or less successfully so. Like all of you I’m sure, I have tried dozens of tools and methods designed to boost productivity here and there and to increase people’s commitment to the project. In short, a true myth of Sisyphus.

I first heard about Holacracy at the very beginning of 2014 (in particular via the case of Zappos here), and with that discovery everything suddenly clicked: what we needed in order to achieve our goal wasn’t yet another tool or some provisional or local solution to one of our problems; no, what we needed was to completely overhaul the way we work. It was then, in the first documents that I read, and in this Holacracy comic book in particular, that I detected a possible solution to a vast number of difficulties brought about by the traditional pyramidal structure of our organizations.

 
“Since September 1st we have formally adopted the constitution upon which Holacracy is based and we are gradually implementing this new managerial technology in our organization (20 collaborators / 2 sites in Paris and Montpellier).”
- Philippe Pinault
 

What is Holacracy ?

It is a « new operating system » for companies – a set of rules that determine the way in which any organization is governed. In concrete terms, the organization’s pyramidalstructure disappears to give way to a new structure based on circles and roles defined by a purpose, domains of authority and accountabilities towards the organization. In Holacracy there is no longer a leader or any relation of subordination, only roles within which each individual can express their talent to the fullest. The keystone of such a system is the obligation for each role to identify and process their tensions (i.e. a gap between what actually is and what could be better) within a very strict governance framework. This in turn leads to a continual modification of the organization’s roles in order to best conform with and adapt to reality; that is, the required structure, the one that will be most efficient in getting the job done.
 

Why did we choose Holacracy?

We have all made the same observation. Our organizations are faced with various challenges (ever-quickening paces, globalization, increasing complexity…) that call for a certain agility, a capacity for innovation, resilience as well as great responsiveness if we want to maintain our position and expand on the market. In Holacracy I have found the answer to three major concerns.
 

1. Change as fast as change itself

Adapt rapidly thanks to the dynamic management of your organization based on the continual evolution of all roles, in accordance with the principle of tensions outlined above. Just picture every single job description in your organization evolving continuously to satisfy the new needs with which every partner is faced, and doing so under the impulse of the partners themselves.
 

2. Move faster

Recruiting talented people is all well and good, but you still need to offer them a framework within which to express their talent to the fullest. Holacracy provides us with such a framework, thus enabling us to be as creative and driven as possible in each of our roles. Holacracy introduces the necessary clarity and transparency on the roles and projects of the entire organization. Everyone is thus perfectly informed as to what he can do and has to do… without any limitation other than to respect their roles’ domain.
 

3. Cultivate both enjoyment and performance in the long run

It is my own personal conviction that enjoyment of one’s work, well-being and performance are intrinsically linked. However, enjoying what we do is not something that can be decreed. The ways in which we work, communicate, manage projects or resources and generally behave have a direct influence on our environment. Knowing how to turn our tensions into solutions is an issue of critical importance if we want to cultivate our well-being at work, our individual commitment as well as our collective efficiency – and beyond that, to win loyalties. Holacracy provides us with a set of rules anyone can use to process their tensions efficiently by differentiating the roles of the relevant individuals.

Moreover we keep discovering other positive, resolutely operational aspects of Holacracy every day, enough for us to come back and share our feedback here in a few months.

Are you interested in discovering Holacracy? I recommend you take a look at the one-day training offered by iGi Partners, who in addition will assist you throughout your transformation.


Bernard Marie's presentation for a Webinar by Liip Talk

Original post in french here: http://blog.talkspirit.com/archive/2014/10/03/holacracy-management-nouve...


 
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Philippe Pinault
Philippe Pinault is co-founder and CEO of TalkSpirit and holaSpirit, one of the main editor of social networks for organizations carrying out a digital transformation.
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