How “Holacracy” can help your organization now?

Brian J. Robertson crafts a wonderful management style that removes politics and decentralizes power that it empowers all in the game and ultimately make the organization agile, true to agile methodologies in software development. This book details the whole system and advices how to organize the teams and rules to play by a organization by Holacracy. There’s section which enlists the takeaways that you can still apply in non-Holacarcy organizations. The advice for those who aren’t able or ready to fully adopt Holacracy falls into four categories:

  1. Change your language, change your culture
  2. Rewrite your role descriptions
  3. Work on your organization,not just in it
  4. Streamline your meetings

Change Your Language, Change your Culture

Language is commonly seen as the verbal expression of culture, but language can also create culture. Try adopting some of these terms in your daily communications with your team and see how it changes your experience of working together.
Tensions and Tensions Processing:
Try replacing the language of “problems” and “solutions” with “tensions” and “proposals”. “Tension” in Holacracy, is a neutral term that simply means the feeling of a specific gap between current reality and a sensed potential. A tension is not a problem and it doesn’t necessarily need a solution; rather it points to an opportunity to move the way things are in present moment a little closer to the what things could be – which is usually a change for the better. To handle tension is by processing it.
Proposals rather than Problems:
Next shift is the habit of offering “Proposals” rather than just lamentations, when you feel a tension, take the next step, and ask yourself, “what would improve the situation? what could I propose?. Encourage your team to do the same. Proposal need not be perfect solution – it’s a way to start the conversation from a proactive, creative place, rather than the a negative one.
Any Objections?:
The next time you find yourself seeking buy-in from your tem around a decision, experiment with changing the way you communicate. Don;t ask, “Does everyone agree?” or “Does everyone like my proposal?” Those questions set you up for a long and tedious discussions. Instead ask, “Does anyone see any objections to this proposal?” and define an objection as “ a reason why this proposal would cause harm, or move us backward”. Another way to phrase the question would be “Does anyone see any reason why this isn’t safe enough to try, knowing we can revisit the decision if it doesn’t work?”.
Roles versus People:
When you’re assigning actions or projects to a member of your team, try referring to these actions or projects as being assigned to the particular role that person is filling. This helps to decouple the often fused “role and soul” and this to defuse the tensions that sometimes arise out of that conflation
Dynamic Steering:
Use a language that’s helpful in shifting your team from a ‘predict-and-control’ mindset to one that is more responsive and adaptable, with less analysis-paralysis. It is akin to naturally riding a bicycle allowing for some ‘weave and shift’ due course rather than riding it in a rigid manner and going nowhere. When we become attached to specific predicted outcome, there’s a risk we will get stuck fighting reality when it doesn’t conform to our prediction. If we find that we are not on the path we set out for ourselves, we may conclude, sometimes subconsciously, that something must be wrong. That judgement of reality inhibits our ability to respond, and encourages us to push against the unwelcome truth – to try to force reality to conform to our predicted vision. That’s not a very effective strategy for navigating the ever-changing complexity of business today. When reality conflicts with our best-laid plans, reality usually wins.

Rewrite Your Role Descriptions

Role is not a person, and one person can – and probably does – fill several roles. Differentiating these roles and the accountabilities they carry can go a long way toward making expectations explicit and avoiding treading on other people’s toes. Roles in Holacracy are dynamic, living things that change over time. Unlike traditional job descriptions, which are often vague, theoretical and soon outdated, Holacracy role definitions are based on the reality of what activities are experienced as useful in the organization, and they stay in sync with evolving reality. Holacracy’s governance process allows for continual clarification and refinement pf roles on the basis of actual tensions.

SAMPLE ROLE DEFINTION

Every role can have a purpose, domains and accountabilities

Role:

    Marketing

Purpose:

     Lots of buzz about our company and its services

Domains:

  • The company’s mailing list and social media accounts
  • Content on the company’s public website

Accountabilities:

  • Building relationships with potential customers in target markets defined by the Marketing Strategy role
  • Promoting and highlighting the organization’s services to potential customers via the web and social media channels
  • Triaging speaking invitations and other PR opportunities sent to the organization, and routing good opportunities to the Spokesperson role

Work on your organization,not just in it

Just don;t work in a organization but start working on it. One opportunity to start with is clearly defining your role and that of your team members. Another approach is to encourage your colleagues to ask themselves, “What would I do if this were my business?”

Streamline your meetings

Check-in and Closing rounds:
These can be easily added to the beginning and end of almost any meeting. their purpose is simple: the check-in round allows all present to notice and share whatever is on their minds that might be distracting them, so that the team is more present and focused, ready to move on to business at hand, while the closing round gives each person an opportunity to share reflections about the meeting. Just remember, in both rounds, people speak one at a time, with no discussion or response allowed. This is essential, to avoid your meetings devolving into personal discussions and to create a “safe space” for people to open up.

On-the-Fly Agenda Building:
Rather than going through a preset list of items that you think you should talk about, try driving your meetings with agenda built on the fly, in the meeting. This limits the agenda to items that someone feels enough tension about to bring up right then and there, and thus ensures that anything you spend time on is actually worth it, at least to someone.

The “What Do You Need?” Approach:
When dealing with an agenda item raised by a team member, it’s always helpful to start with the question “What do you need?”. This keeps the discussion focused on resolving the issue at hand.  It also helps to remind everyone that the only goal is to satisfy the person who raised the issue, without being diverted into other people’s related concerns. You’ll know you’re ready to move on when the person wo added the agenda item can answer yes to the question “Do you have what you need?”, even if other person aren’t satisfied. Their concerns can be dealt with as separate agenda item if necessary-which leads to the next element you may find useful.

One Tension at a Time:
This simple rule works wonders for streamlining a meeting and keeping it on track. It’s all too easy to start off addressing one issue, then find yourselves diverted by a half dozen related concerns, as everyone piles pet peeves on top of the original tension. The result is usually unsatisfactory for everyone, as often not much gets effectively resolved.

Integrated Decision Making:
This is a format that allows collaborative decision making

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