We wrote last September, “The signing of a Constitution is a watershed event in the life of a country or an organization, which turns its history into a ‘before’ and ‘after’.” The occasion for that sentence was the adoption of the Holacracy Constitution by the EE team as our project’s operating system.
As you may remember, the Enlivening Edge website and newsletter came into being thanks to a one-time sponsorship from Future Considerations, a London-based, international transformation agency. On April 11 and 12, that company gone through a Holacracy launch event, where they adopted the Holacracy Constitution. Below are some voices reflecting what happened.
Complexity, agility and Holacracy
I was expecting to like Holacracy from light brushes over the years in small groups with its approach and its integrative decision making technique. After two days immersion in the experience of actual implementation in a larger organisation with greater functional complexity I like it a lot.
In general, the coming stage of organisational life is required to cope with increasing complexity and unpredictability. Complexity calls for ways to break down problems, to facilitate all levels of organisational intelligence in being responsive in their own domains and sometimes it requires the ability to pull the wider intelligence towards a more central awareness to address larger issues.
Holacracy visibly does that. Unpredictability demands responsiveness. Changing conditions may confound yesterday’s decisions and call for new ones. We need the agility and lightness to adjust and steer without being in fear of chaos. I could feel how Holacracy supports that too.
More than that, in the two days of hands-on work I experienced some deeper areas that have challenged a relatively informal and lightly structured organisation. It opened up toward elegant and well-formed ways forward. Holacracy is no instant solution; it will take time. Nor is it a magic wand; it requires a significant learning curve. Even so, I could feel how, if it is given the time and attention, it can become slick and effective, and very enabling. I am looking forward to that journey and its outcomes.
I’ve been a tentative fan of Holacracy, from the sidelines, for some years now. I’ve seen it in client systems and we’ve experimented with fragments of it in Future Considerations. But through the preparation for and experience of our own Holacracy launch, I came to appreciate even more fully the completeness and integrity of the Holacracy operating system.
I believe that at Teal we need “liberating disciplines”, and my growing experience of Holacracy is that it is just that. The rigour and particular detailed processes and structures – things I have been known to rebel against in the past – seem to create space for greater freedom, creativity and personal leadership. And somewhat surprisingly, in myself and in others, I find a relaxing of subtle ego needs, personal tensions or conflicts; somehow the complete Holacracy approach appears to allow us to orient ourselves more wholeheartedly to the purpose of the organisation.
It’s early days yet, but I leave our launch very excited about what Holacracy will do for Future Considerations’ ability to grow our work in areas even more fully aligned with our purpose, and for our people to flourish and create greater value than ever for our clients and the broader ecosystem of which we are a part.
The virtue of dynamic steering
Having had limited prior experience of Holacracy (1 day intro course, reading and other organisation’s stories) I came into the launch with some considerable reservations. While they have not all been dispelled, I did leave Day 1 with a greater optimism. I firmly believe that Holacracy provides a framework and practices that could enable FC to accelerate its journey on the road to becoming more Teal in its organising.
There is the potential to break some of its unhelpful historic patterns both of over- inclusion and paradoxically perhaps exclusion. We have always had a strong intention towards democracy but Holacracy can build that more firmly into our collective interactions and leadership.
It will require a profound shift in some of our cultural patterns. It is not inevitable but practising Holacracy, especially the clarity and rigour it encourages together with the greater opportunity for wider contribution to dynamic steering, does provide an exciting next step on our path.
When authority gets distributed…
These 2 days were my first practical experience of Holacracy – they proved a powerful moment for me. Among my key learnings, I’m taking away how powerful and light co-creation and decision-making can be among a team of professionals when authority gets distributed and when the focus is shifted from personified, potentially endless or ego-driven debates to purpose-led, efficient conversations that focus on (quite simply) removing barriers to quality work being done.
I’ve been struck many times during our first circle meetings to witness how uncommon and somehow vertiginous it is to feel that how empowered – and thus accountable – is to fully and freely realize the purpose of the roles entrusted to us!
Holacracy also challenges us to speak clearly and directly about our needs and requests, and to evaluate which collectively devised solutions do or don’t fully address them. I feel that clarity stays with me now in all conversations I’ve had since!
I’ve also been amazed at the efficiency we could reach, from the start, in our decision-making, even when we were only toddling our way through the processes!
I hope that this new operating system enables us to power our decision-making and information sharing in a way that fosters our collective intelligence and frees up time from operations to innovation.
I can already envision how Holacracy could ultimately boost our capacity to further serve our purpose by freeing up time and opening up space for the meaningful conversations where we will better and further link our talents, address our sensed opportunities, develop our thought leadership and bring our unique offerings to the world!