Word of the Day: ‘Holacracy’

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Word of the Day: ‘Holacracy’

I just read a great article, “Is Collaboration Limited by Social Structure’, by Deb Lavoy. In this article, she outlines four organizational models and the pluses and minuses for successful collaboration. What struck me, first of all, was the term ‘holacracy’. This can be attributed to Zappos. According to Ms. Lavoy, “The recent announcement by Zappos that it was changing its organizational structure to a “holacracy” suggests that forward-thinking companies are taking it all very seriously. They recognize the emerging proof that a more collaborative organization is a more profitable one.”

To continue quoting the article, “in essence, the business becomes a hierarchy of self-directed and self-organized teams, governed by a constitution (at least it’s not a manifesto). This is somewhat reminiscent of the early work in Agile software development, with which it has some values and processes and general concepts in common — a ritualized structure and process for achieving highly flexible organizations.

Strengths: Distributed decision-making and self-direction better capitalize on human potential. Rituals and procedures oversee potential areas of conflict, clarifying decision-making in areas that a pull hierarchy struggles with. This theoretically will maximize learning, business outcomes and individual development.

Weaknesses: The general public doesn’t have much exposure to real life holacracies yet. Zappos is not the first to go Holacracy, but it is the largest. We don’t know how it scales. I would not be surprised if Holacracy followed a similar path to agile in terms of becoming a mainstream idea over the course of a couple of years, adopted by some and mangled by many, if not most.”

Now you know what holacracy is. Learn something new every day!