Tag Archives: roles

The Birth of an Holacracy organisation: the setup of Structure & Process

What happens or needs to happen when an organisation switches to Holacracy?

With this article, I intend to give some clarity for founders or owners of companies that consider using Holacracy. I will outline the steps that need to be taken to move from the existing structure to Holacracy.

I will use our own case – that of Structure & Process – to explain the steps as we go along.

Establishing the legal base for Holacracy: The Foundational Document

A company moves to Holacracy when the current power-holders adopt the Holacracy Constitution.

In Structure & Process’s case, this was done by myself, Martina Röll, the sole owner, establishing and signing a foundational document.

It reads pretty straightforwardly:

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Energizing Project Roles (Holacracy Basics, Part 1)

In project work, we often speak of “Roles”. But rarely it is made explicit, what it means exactly to take on a “Role”. What are the expectations one can have towards you? What expectations can you have towards others?

Holacracy is a framework for collaborative work. It provides explicit and clear rules for how to work together.

In Holacracy, taking on a role means taking the responsibility:

  • to sense tensions for that role and process them.
    A tension is a gap between what is, and what could be better.
  • to break down the role’s accountabilities into projects and next-actions, and to document these projects and next-actions.
    (The role’s accountabilities are decided on in a governance process. You can see examples of role descriptions on our company’s public governance records. (click any small circle.))
  • to continuously decide which projects and actions to work on

(More detail in the Holacracy Constitution, Section 1: http://holacracy.org/constitution#art1)

Filling a role grants the authority to take any action to express the Role’s Purpose or Accountabilities, as long as it doesn’t impact the Domain of another Role without permission. (Constitution 1.4) (More on “Domains” at another time.)

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5 Steps to Building an Organisation

What are the essential steps to seting up and maintaining coherent, purposeful collaborative work? How do you build an organisation?

Giving a talk to participants of Berlin’s Climate-KIC accelerator program last week helped me clarify my thinking on this. I will attempt to sketch out a systematic way to to get from “a bunch of people wanting to do things together” to a working and evolving organisation. There are many ways to do this – this is one, that, in our experience, has often worked well. It is informed by the work we did with Nenásilná komunikace group and our practise of Holacracy.

This will most likely be incomplete or unclear in places – please do leave questions and comments below so that it can improve!

1) Clarify Purpose

Goal: Arrive at a shared expression of purpose.

Method: Story Circle Conversation with Convergence.

'The Circle Way' Book Cover

Get all founders together and host a circle conversation on purpose.

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Fundamental Aspects to make Work Meetings work

I ran a session at Mobilecamp Dresden today, speaking about “improving meetings”.

Other than in my previous thoughts about good meetings, that were centered around open business meetings, possibly between partners who don’t yet collaborate or know eachother well, this session was centered around project group meetings. Some fundamental aspects that I find important to make a meeting work:

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Company Circle visualisation, Röll & Korvenmaa's Company Circle, April 8th 2014

Clarifying roles and accountabilities in Holacracy – our April 8th Governance Meeting explained

In our company, we use Holacracy as our Operating Model: it allows us to develop great clarity on what we actually do (what our work processes are) and who does what (who is responsible for taking a particular action).

The functions and accountabilities are captured in Roles, and are being refined in Governance Meetings. You can study all of our company’s roles in our public governance records and there is a history of Governance and Tactical Meeting minutes available too.

(Note: since publishing this article, we have restructured the company, making most links in the following paragraphs not functional anymore.)

Clarifying accountabilities

If you look at this morning’s governance meeting, you can see the subtleties of governance in Holacracy. For example

  • we noticed that nobody was actually responsible for maintaining lists of participants of our events. We captured this as a new accountability for our Events Outreach Role. Having responsibilities in Sales and Marketing and Idea Sharing, I can relax now, knowing that this is  being taken care of by Tanja in her Events Outreach role.

The changes made to the Collaboration Logistics and Sales Operations roles also reflect these small, better understandings of the business functions. (See the minutes to see the changes highlighted.)

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