Which Roles should you give up?

Matthijs Collard on the Holacracy Community of Practise Forum:

I am coaching a colleague that has too many roles (Yes, that could also be me). I remember I once read an article about a nice little app (not software, but a Holacracy add-on method) that lets you evaluate your roles based on a few criteria. The result was that you figured out what roles you should give back. Thing is, I can’t find it anywhere. Does anybody know this app? Thanks!

Matthijs Collard

I don’t know an app, but I do have some thoughts.

On the individual level:

  • What is your gut feeling about the Role? Often, you already know which Role you do not want to hold. In Holacracy, it is safe to act on these intuitions: the Role falls back to the Lead Link, who can then pass it on to somebody else. Alternatively, they may get back to you if more complex processing is needed. For yourself, it is allright to take care of yourself first: it is not necessary to think of all possible knock-on effects of your resignation. The Lead Link and the Circle are there to hold this.
  • What are your skills in the Role? Are you good at it, or not so good?
    • If you are good: Do you enjoy your mastery, or does it bore you?
    • If you are not so good: Does this bother & exhaust you, or does it challenge & motivate you to learn?
  • Speaking of learning: Do you still want to learn new things about the Role and the skills it requires? Do you see personal development for yourself in it? If not: Does this give you a sense of peace & stability or of stagnation & boredom?

On the group level:

  • Do you see a colleague who might be a better fit for the Role?
    • Is there someone who could do the job better?
    • Is there someone who is highly motivated to hold the Role?
    • Is there someone disconnected from the team, for whom this Role would help reconnect with the Circle’s activities?

Or in other words: Would another individual or the Circle as a whole benefit from you giving up the Role?

Giving up a Role doesn’t have to be about you: It can be about helping others or helping the Circle function better.

What other criteria or tests might there be to find out what Roles to give up? If you have any thought, please share them in the comment below or back on the Holacracy Community of Practise!

New Purpose: “Organisations worth belonging to.”

Structure & Process operates with an explicit company purpose. We use words to invite clients and new members to our community and to guide ourselves in what we do.

We recently changed our purpose from “beautiful work to “Organisations worth belonging to.

Or, more verbose:

Beautiful work
on things that matter
in thriving collaborative communities.

Organisations worth belonging to. 

I shall explain why we made the change and it means to us.

“Beautiful work” was the condensed form of what we were about: work in all its forms, and a sense of beauty which went far beyond aesthetics, but included purposefulness, connectedness with other people, and sustainability.

However, I felt that we needed to move to a more concrete expression of what we are about and especially what we bring into the world. I realised that beyond “beauty”, we actually create something very tangible in Structure & Process and in our client organisations:

When we started Structure & Process seven years ago (in 2012), we had come to the realisation that that most existing organisations were simply not attractive to us:

  • Their purposes were often vague or non-existent, their behaviour sometimes openly evil
  • Their value systems rarely fit ours
  • Their social environments were unhealthy or uninspiring

We wanted to build something better: A company to belong to, in the best sense of the word. A purposeful organisation that one would be happy to work in. (“Purposeful organisations in which people love to work.” became our company purpose in 2015.)

Over the years, we realised how precious our time is: we need to make very conscious choices what to spend it on. This is one thing we emphasize in worth belonging to: Every person has a choice to make what to work on and who to engage with. It is a valuable choice. Which organisation is worth belonging to? Is yours?

With the new focus on organisations rather than work, we emphasize the tangible and a long-term intent: We are building something, not simply doing. We are building organisations, not just consulting.

This will give us a renewed focus on our own structures and systems, putting effort into making Structure & Process an organisation worth belonging to and a beautiful structure & community to do meaningful work in.

Essential Intent

Build and sustain a prototypical organisation

- that anyone can access 
- which people want to belong to
- where people can 
  - put in their best work
  - receive and give support
  - be inspired to better action
- that produces tangible outcomes of its purpose
A draft “Essential Intent” statement for Structure & Process (Juliane, March 2019)

We shall also look into our long-term relationships with clients, and into new forms of cooperating, e.g. as joint-ventures rather than within transactional consulting project relationships.

While we work on giving this shape, please already consider our invitation: You are welcome to join us, as a colleague or client, and work together with us building organisations worth belonging to. It could be yours. It could be ours. It could be a new one we start together. What would you like to work on?

We vow do to it beautifully and in line with our values.

Values of Structure & Process: 
Honesty
Authenticity
Clarity
Transparency
Accessibility
Intentionality / Purposefulness
Wisdom
Aesthetics
Inclusivity / Diversity
Sustainability
Ease / Balance
Right Effort
Effectiveness
Participation (Teilhabe)
Exchange
Support
A very rough draft of what might become Structure & Process’s “company values” (Juliane, March 2019)

We are organisation builders, coaches, consultants, process facilitators and human beings. If you would like to work together with us, please get in touch!

New Work Buzzword Bingo

New Work – a term originally coined by philosopher Frithjof Bergmann to describe an alternative to the current wage labour system – has become an umbrella term for all things cool and trendy in the business world: from agile teams to flat hierarchies and self-organisation, from digitalisation to focusing on purpose and autonomy.

Obviously, here at Structure & Process we are happy that New Work is becoming more and more popular and “mainstream”. However, this popularity also means that everyone and their mother are trying to jump on the New Work bandwagon, and sometimes the rhetoric around it can seem a little – well… repetitive. I mean, how often can you hear things like “catalysing the emergence of co-creative innovation” without rolling your eyes?!

So, after laughing about this kind of fluffy jargon for the umpteenth time, we decided to offer something constructive to the conversation. And so we proudly present to you… the New Work Buzzword Bingo!

Designed by Lara Listens, it’s meant to be brought along to your next New Work unconference, team retreat, leadership keynote speech, or simply your casual weekly newsletter perusal. First pilot trials show that the resulting fun is directly proportionate to the number of colleagues who jointly participate in the Buzzword Bingo – collectively empowered impact at its finest!

Download our New Work Buzzword Bingo here and share it freely with the world!

Structure & Process Work Notes, April 2018 (Juliane)

A short work month for me, as I was still on holiday during the first two weeks.

We began in Groningen, working with a team of researchers, building structures to help them coordinate and work efficiently and effectively. I spent an extra day in the city, meeting with an HR executive of the university, discussing organisational development and consulting for university teams.

The Main Building of the University of Groningen, in the inner city.

Travelling back to Dresden, I reconnected with former Structure & Process Partners Annette Mehlhoop (who now works at Bremer Baumwollbörse) and Lynoure Braakman (who works with neuland – Büro für Informatik) in Oldenburg and Bremen.

I spent a week in Dresden catching up on communication, processing a good number of new leads that had come in and running an exploratory call with a potential new client. I prepared a workshop process for our new client in Switzerland who we will see next week. This was the most stressful week.

Continue reading Structure & Process Work Notes, April 2018 (Juliane)

Structure & Process Work Notes, March 2018

A lot of work at the beginning of March got done from London, where I was attending Gender in the Contemporary World Symposium.

I shouldn’t even be writing this. :-)

I am technically on holiday. But as I was browsing business email, I fell into last month’s work notes and noticed: oh, it’s time!

I do enjoy taking this time off. Except for my vacation in December 2017, I haven’t taken a true holiday in a very long time. I feel relaxed, easy and joyful. My brain is producing some creativity that for once does not circle around Structure & Process, Organisational Development or other things close to my usual profession. I like it.

Continue reading Structure & Process Work Notes, March 2018

Links of the Month for February 2018

Some reading, curated from our link collection over the month of February:

  • In “Planned obsolescence”, Eugenio Molini speaks about working in such a way, that his client no longer needs his service. He then extends this perspective to his whole career, confronting the fears that come up with it.
  • Table of Contents of the IETF Paper on 'rough consensus'An IETF paper on “humming” (yes, seriously!) and “rough consensus”. I didn’t read the whole 19 pages in all their detail, but found the inspiration for group decision making process and culture well worth the look.
  • Do organisations, especially so-called “teal” ones, have a purpose of their own? And if they do – is it (purpose), and are they (these organisations), sustainable? Frederik Laloux discusses.

Structure & Process Work Notes, February 2018 (Juliane)

Previous Month: http://structureprocess.com/blog/january2018/

I had some difficulty writing these Work Notes. As I looked over my calendar and the outcomes of last month, I thought: “Oh dear! This is not interesting! I was mostly traveling, and involved with my more personal issues; and yes, while we made some important progress with our clients, there is nothing really interesting to say to the world about that…” 

When I raised this in our Monday Tactical Meeting, having almost dropped the project, Malwina told me: “Well: write about that. Share your process!” And I think she is right.

One of the aspects most important to beautiful work (our organisation’s purpose), is that I can set my own rhythm. Or tune into what might be the “natural” rhythm, not needing to force anything or raise the speed of development, when things are actually fine. It allows me to take myself seriously, and allow development for myself as a person, rather than just being a role-filler of the organisation.

So… what was it like?

Continue reading Structure & Process Work Notes, February 2018 (Juliane)

Structure & Process Work Notes, January 2018

Welcome, to what may become a new column here on our blog! With these notes, I want to chronicle our work year and provide updates on what we do and how our thinking and practise develops. I start it as an experiment – your feedback is very welcome!

We started this work year very slowly, and, myself, after coming from a solid, long vacation in December. I worked only from home in the first week of January, sorting out emails, cleaning things up, creating good working conditions.

And then we kicked things off not with a workshop, partner meeting or, well, a kick-off, but with a retreat.

5 days in the most beautiful of places, reconnecting with each other as coworkers and collaborators, and inviting clients to join us. For what? For being together in mindfulness, to breathe, relax, look deeply into things, and see if work might also happen. Which it did. I was fascinated with how well everything went, with the new ideas that came up (one of which went into practise immediately), with the ease of being together.

The sun sets over Scharmützelsee near Bad Saarow, January 10th 2018

Week 3 had a final work team meeting at reinblau, our main organisational development client in Berlin. I was glad to wrap up the work for now, and give it over into full responsibility of the client. The rhythm felt right: There is time for consulting and input and change, and a time to let things settle or unfold in new ways, to step away, and come back at another time.

I got stuck in Berlin with the storm and found myself with a gorgeous room at the Lux 11 for the night, looking out on Alexanderplatz. From there, I ran a call with our new clients in Groningen in the next morning, discussing next steps and setting up a new workshop with them. (We started working with a team of researchers from the University of Groningen in November 2017, working with a process based on our strategy workshop. More to come.)

A room with a view. (January 18th 2018)

In the final week, I reconnected with Holacracy Club, a Berlin-based community of Holacracy practitioners that I hadn’t been with in many months. I was glad to get updates on what everyone is doing. It turned out that many of us are now consultants! (When I joined in 2016, I was the only one.)

I explored three new  incoming work requests from potential clients and produced proposals for all of them.


Our work feels easy and calm and purposeful at the moment. The work load is just right. Occasional feelings of overwhelm point me to better personal organisation, rather than to changes in the company.

We basically function as a team of 2 people now. While last year this has given me some worry about not having enough capacity or not being interesting enough, I now appreciate the ease of coordination and the sense of personal responsibility that this gives us. As we keep the number of concurrent projects low (and are making conscious effort to reduce work-in-progress where we can), we can stay focused and make good progress in all places that need attention.

Good to be writing again. Hello, world.

5 Ingredients for a Beautiful Team Retreat

Last month, we started 2018 with a residential Partner Retreat. We (and our guests) liked it so much that we’re already planning the next one for May.

We know that some of our clients, colleagues and readers organise their own team retreats regularly, so we thought we’d share with you which ingredients helped us most to make it such a rewarding and inspiring experience.

1. A Beautiful Place

We know that space matters. We know it well enough to have a designated role that takes care of it. And yet, we were once again surprised to see how very much it matters.

The Salon

Eibenhof, which hosted us for the five days of the Partner Retreat, was absolutely lovely. A cozy house on a family estate right by the lake, with our own fire place, a spacious country kitchen, various naptime spots and lovely walking routes right outside the door.

Continue reading 5 Ingredients for a Beautiful Team Retreat