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What is holacracy?

Holacracy®, a managerial practice encoded in an evolving constitution

Holacracy is a coherent set of management and self-management tools which helps to empower those who do the work and to encourage everyone to cooperate around common rules of the game, all in the service of the Purpose of the company.

OVERVIEW

Etymology of holacracy

“Holacracy” is a word coined by Brian Robertson, who was inspired by two words: “holarchy”, a term coined in 1967 by Arthur Koestler in his book The Ghost in the Machine, and “cracy”, which means “power” (just like “democracy”, “autocracy”…)

2000+ companies supported since 2009

Born in the United States on the basis of experimentation with several management methods, the first Holacracy constitution consisted of only a few pages… to arrive today at a comprehensive document whose developments were dictated by extensive experimentation on field.

Example of businesses in holacracy

De Castorama à Zappos, en passant par Danone ou des entreprises de plus petites tailles, Holacracy s’adapte à tout type d’entreprise, dans des secteurs d’activités très variés, grâce à cette méta-constitution.

THEY PRACTICE HOLACRACY

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THE TOOLS

The 5 key tools of holacracy

The Purpose

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The Purpose is the DNA of the company, what connects the past to the future, it is the North Star, the common glue of an entire company. It’s not just words, if it’s a simple slogan, it won’t last long because without substance, you won’t have the commitment of the teams.

The Role

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With holacracy, the notion of responsibility is revised. In the conventional model, as soon as we talk about Role, the question is “who do you report to?” Who is your manager, your superior? Which is ultimately not very useful…

The Tactical meeting

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The Tactical meeting is one of the two meetings listed in the Holacracy constitution. An altero-centering tool par excellence, we also talk about the art of sorting, a fantastic tool for developing everyone’s leadership and followership.

Dynamic tension

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Generally, when we talk about tension, people think of problems, irritants, rather negative things; We also say “I’m tense” to express annoyance. But all these elements do not fall into the category of what we call tension, which has its origins in the Latin tensio, from tendere, which means “tender”

The Governance meeting

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The Governance meeting is a new space brought by constitutional management. Where before, this power resided with the manager, now it is the entire organization, at all levels, which can govern and develop the organization, according to a well-defined process.

GO FURTHER

7 superpowers!

When a manager wants to transform his company to allow his employees to move towards self-management, another form of management for managers, often what gets stuck in this transformation is the evolution of the mental model regarding the question of power. With the implementation of constitutional management, each employee is endowed with 7 superpowers…

#1

From power "over" to authority "in the service of"

#2

The art of sorting

#3

The power to govern

#4

Anything goes...

#5

Act according to your interpretation

#6

Implicit expectations carry no weight

#7

Individual initiative

The limits of holacracy

After more than 14 years of practice and more than 150 companies supported, Bernard Marie Chiquet takes stock and reveals here the identified disadvantages of holacracy:

  1. Lots of habit changes
  2. Holacracy is too rigid and not very humane
  3. Holacracy no longer has management or hierarchy
  4. Holacracy is too complex, risk of bureaucracy
  5. Year-long journey

IMPLEMENTATION

Implementation approach

We have identified 8 key steps to implement Holacracy 5.0, prerequisites for the full launch of all circles.
(Of course, the transformation of the organization will not stop there and it is necessary to continue to train and be supported to work on deeper subjects, beyond holacracy, depending on the stage maturity of each organization)

This approach is the fruit of our field experience since 2008 and more than 150 organizations supported:

1

Prerequisite: The leader’s journey

We offer a course for the leader to verify a certain number of prerequisites, essential to the success of the transformation.

2

Setting managers in motion

Getting management on board is key to avoiding misunderstandings and removing illusions. Often, this involves a 100% digital or face-to-face seminar, during which the management team will experience the practice of Holacracy, by living it.

3

Collaborator consultation

This is not a question of going to see employees to communicate about the transformation, that would simply involve them and not consult them. Consultation means asking them for their opinion in an authentic way, giving them enough elements to position themselves.

4

Encoding

This step is the most important because it is the phase of connecting the existing to Holacracy. If everything is not well encoded and there are still unclear areas, employees risk being lost and no longer knowing what to do and managers, for their part, risk no longer providing their added value, to the detriment of the proper functioning of the organization.

5

Managers’ journey

In parallel with encoding, managers need to be trained in management and more precisely, in what we call managerial excellence.

6

Training of facilitators

To prepare for the launch of the circles, it is necessary to train a sufficient number of people who will become facilitators. They will accompany and facilitate circle meetings.

7

Ratification

Ratification is the official signing of the constitution by the ratifiers (corporate officers). This symbolic act can be done during a “kick off” in front of all employees to make the gesture even stronger.

8

Launching the circles

Last phase in the implementation of Holacracy. Here, the facilitators launch the first meetings: elections of elected roles, first triage meeting with coaching, first governance meeting with coaching, etc.

PRACTICE

Holacracy softwares

With the practice of Holacracy comes the need for support for this practice. Having reliable software, which integrates the rules of the constitution is essential for good practice, you could not really adopt Holacracy without it. Let’s take a closer look at why…

Glassfrog

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Holaspirit

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Peerdom

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Outils et clés du management et self management constitutionnel type holacratie

La formation de Praticien en version originale : un incontournable pour découvrir Holacracy® par la grande porte.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where does the term “holacracy” come from?

    “Holacracy” is a word coined by Brian Robertson, who was inspired by two words: “holarchy”, a term coined in 1967 by Arthur Koestler in his book The Ghost in the Machine, and “-cracy” , which means “power” (just like “democracy”, “autocracy”…).

    So this is the power of holarchy.

  • What is the history of holacracy?

    Holacracy is a management technology born in the United States. It all started with three individuals who dreamed of finding a new way to manage organizations. After experiencing the usual chronic difficulties and bottlenecks, either as employees or as managers, they created a technology company (named Ternary Software) in which they continuously experimented with new methods of organization and cooperation.

    After six years (2001 to 2006), they realized that the organization was operating at full capacity and that they had built a coherent whole, noticed by many (Ternary Software had won several awards).

    They then named this promising approach by coining the word Holacracy and in 2007, the company HolacracyOne was founded to allow this emerging practice to continue its evolution and spread around the world.

  • How to implement holacracy?

    The implementation of holacracy occurs through 4 main stages:

    1. work on the prerequisites
    2. encoding of roles and preparation
    3. ratification of the constitution
    4. launch and monitor

    NB: Holacracy being a complex technology to understand, it is strongly recommended to be accompanied by certified coaches for its implementation.

  • How to become a Holacracy® coach?

    Anyone can take the certification to become a Holacracy® coach from the moment they have participated in the two Holacracy® practitioner and coach training courses. This is followed by the passage of two assessments which determine its certification or not.

  • How to train in Holacracy®?

    The Holacracy® Practitioner training allows you to learn to master the basics of a healthy holacratic practice. This training is delivered by Nova Consul as a Holacracy® Premier Provider (only French-speaking organization) and with a Holacracy® Master Coach (only a handful worldwide).

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