Why personal productivity matters in Holacracy

Imagine that you are the owner and CEO of a company and you are considering to use Holacracy as an operating system. That basically means, you give up the power to tell your employees what they should be doing and how they should be doing it. However much you may be excited about moving to such a self-organising structure, deep down you also feel fearful (or maybe not so deep down!):

What if my employees take different actions and directions than I would like them to take? What if they forget things? How can I make sure they’ll be taking the right decisions?

Trust and transparency

It takes a certain amount of basic trust in your employees, and people in general, to decide to use Holacracy. Besides that, it actually provides the proper framework for former decision-makers to be able to relax about controlling the work that needs to be done in the company.

To counter the great freedom that comes with working in a Holacracy, which basically says do whatever you want as long as it serves the purpose of the company/circle/role you’re in, there is embedded in the constitution also a big responsibility for everyone working in a Holacracy:

Each Circle Member is expected to provide transparency to other Circle Members, upon request, by:

  1. Projects & Next-Actions. Sharing the Projects & Next-Actions tracked for any of their Roles of the Circle.

  2. Relative Priority. Sharing their judgment of the relative priority of any tracked Projects or Next-Actions compared to other activities.

  3. Projections. Sharing a rough estimate of when they will likely complete a Project or a Next-Action, given current information.

  4. Checklist Items & Metrics. During Tactical Meetings, reporting on metrics requested by the Lead Link and checklist items requested by other Circle Members.

In practice that means that I (as your colleague, maybe former boss) can come up to you and ask: Hey, what projects are you working on? What are the next actions defined for those projects? What are you prioritizing?

Circle members in a Holacracy always need to be able to answer these questions. How does one achieve that comfortably?

Personal productivity basics

This is where personal productivity comes in. In order to be efficiently organised on an individual level, one would need at least the following things:

  • An understanding of how to easily collect and process incoming information into actions, reminders, triggers, checklists, etc. The most well known is the Getting Things Done approach, summarized nicely as follows:

    copyright HolacracyOne, LLC
  • An email setup that allows for quick return to an empty inbox (while also processing all messages into actions, reminders, triggers, checklists, etc).
  • A (digital) tool for keeping track of projects and action lists.
  • A (digital) tool for keeping track of project material and other reference materials.
  • A routine that makes sure your “system” stays clean and orderly. A good practice is doing a weekly review.

Basically, it’s a combination of having the right process in place, alongside some good tools and a couple of productive habits.

Now let’s go back to the CEO considering to use Holacracy. If all employees in his company work according to certain minimum standards of personal productivity (which in case of Holacracy they are required to do), then it becomes more easy to relax. He may not be able to control the what, when and how of people’s actions, but at least he can get full transparency on it. And if the provided transparency gives him any tensions, Holacracy offers ample opportunity to process those tensions into new projects or accountabilities during its frequent Tactical or Governance meetings.

Getting started

Are you a business owner and would you like to have your staff trained in personal productivity? Or would you like to get individual coaching? At Structure & Process we can help you manage and master these areas of work and take personal productivity to the next level.

Get in touch.

If you’re more the Do-it-yourself type, here are some reading tips to get you started:

Getting Things Done –> book and website (interesting fact, the GTD company is using Holacracy as their operating system!)

Asian Efficiency, great website on all things Personal Productivity

Some apps for task management and storing information digitally: Omnifocus, Evernote, Trello, Remember-the-milk


Also published on Medium.com

About Rob van den Brand

Rob van den Brand is a former partner in Structure & Process. Among others he held the roles of Personal Productivity Coach, Holacracy Facilitator and Product Development. He is focused on providing the necessary guidance to organisations that want to transition to different ways of working. He also likes to help people get more productive personally. Rob's Website is Productive Mind.

One thought on “Why personal productivity matters in Holacracy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *