I visited Obenaus Community in Styria this month. The community there is currently reflecting its decision making process and ask me to briefly introduce them to Holacracy.
As I was speaking, Viola Tschendel – Graphic Harvester, and one of the residents at Obenaus – created this visual of my talk.
A brief outline:
Holacracy is based on Purpose. It organises the work, the “stuff”, not the people.
First Rule is: You can do anything. (Unless it is forbidden.) Go for it.
Second step: Assign Roles: Capture what is already happening, make it transparent. (So that it can be discussed more easily, and changed if necessary.)
A Role has a Name, a Purpose, and Accountabilities. It might have a Domain: Property that it controls. (“Don’t touch the cook’s knives without permission.”)
It helps to have a stable process facilitator, to help the community have the conversation about role building, domains, control.
Holacracy defines a process for the conversation about power. It opens up stable, safe space for constructive disagreement. It allows people to show up fully, with all of their concerns, worries or wishes for change, and process these inputs (called “tensions”) into useful output.
The Holacracy Governance Process brings clarity and efficiency in creating and processing proposals for structural change
The Holacracy Tactical Process asks “what do you need?”, thereby keeps tension with the tension holder, creating safe space for others.
“Lead Link” is a Role that assigns Roles to people. People can always give roles back: nobody can be forced to do work or hold a Role they don’t want.
Subcircles can be formed as the structure gets more complicated
I left very inspired from my stay, having joined Social Presencing Theatre (with Dirk Bräuninger) and Systemic Constellations (with Rainer von Leoprechting, who is also a Partner in Structure & Process). I was glad to work with Viola (you will see more of us coming up), and with Vihra Dincheva, an excellent Online Host and Partner in Enlivening Edge. All the best for your next steps!
Seeing last week’s events, they take on a larger, deeper meaning for me. I always knew our work was relevant, but it may well be much more relevant than we thought.
“Part of the problem seems to be that nobody these days is content to merely put their dent in the universe. No, they have to fucking own the universe. It’s not enough to be in the market, they have to dominate it. It’s not enough to serve customers, they have to capture them.” – RECONSIDER – Signal v. Noise
“Organisations thriving, people loving their work, world saved.”
The world probably needs no saving, but until we have that absolutely clear, we’ll go ahead with this. Good enough for now.
For our organisation to thrive and myself to love my work more (and, finally, to save the world), we need a new Consulting Assistant, as Angela is taking new ways (staying with the company, doing new things).
It will be hard to replace her, but maybe you can do it.
… is one of the aspects I enjoy most, being part of a team that runs on Holacracy.
you don’t have to worry about the implicit expectations or “shoulds” of others; instead, you can just show up, be yourself, and do your best within your roles, trusting that the process will catch and integrate any tensions that result. (Brian Robertson)
It is not necessary to worry about
what others will think or feel about my work
wether it will be “enough”
what others may think or feel about my process
if I should have done things differently.
Or so is the theory.
In practise, I still stress out a lot over being “a good leader”, a good steward of the team, a good Lead Link of our Holacracy Circles.
I try my best. I work in the best way I can and let the rest flow through the Holacracy process: it allows and encourages anyone to come up with anything that could be improved (from that person’s perspective). It can then be processed constructively together and codified in our governance records, the standards by which we work together (more on how our company is set up here).
Our conversations are mostly impersonal: they are usually about the work, not about the specific way in which a person is doing their work. The conversations happen between role holders for the benefit of the organisation. It is about how the work should be done, not about how I am or have been doing the work.
Except when it actually is about personal performance: When a person is clearly not doing their job according to the agreed-on principles, our process also shows it very clearly and opens up a conversation about what can be done (should the job be reassigned to someone else? Does the person holding the role need more support?). This makes the conversation about changing the person’s job or reassigning their roles much easier than if it were mixed up with a conversation about the structure of the work.
Having said all that, we do run into personal conflicts too. I hope that people will speak up, and address me personally when I messed up, or that they process it through Holacracy, so that we can all learn collectively, and build structure that may prevent future conflicts.
How do you feel about your email? Happy? Overwhelmed? Stressed?
As we go along working with teams and organisations, we often find that individuals feel overwhelmed and out-of-control with their email, putting them under stress and making it difficult to relate to others. After all, working with others will only put more email into your inbox!
If you would like to improve how you handle your email, and spend less time checking and worrying about your inbox and more time getting things done, our Inbox Zero Guide is for you.
When the organisation’s purpose is clear and compelling, it acts as an attractor: Even with an unclear product offering, people show up and say: “hey, this is interesting! What do you do? How can I contribute?”
These people will sometimes join independent of the currently available “jobs”. They are not picky about what exactly they will be doing, as long as it contributes to a meaningful cause.
When invited, these people will often bring in their personal special skills and creativity, which can lead to new directions, innovation in the products, and… interesting tensions. :)
2. Interesting Work
What is the actual work that needs to be done? What is the job?