Holacracy, save enough to try!

(EN only) ambuzzador CEO Sabine Hoffmann took one week off to meet Brian J. Robertson and his organizational approach called Holacracy in Amsterdam. Here’s her summary.

In July I took one week off, in order to dedicate it to a topic that fascinates me as I have been working on change processes for many years now: how to become agile as an organisation , in order to handle the fast changing environments, caused by phenomena like disruption and the expectations of the GenerationNOW.

Holacracy is one of the answers, ending heroic leadership within hierarchical systems by establishing an organic, self-sustaining algorithm in order to run your Social Business. So I decided to deep dive into Holacracy by attending a week of training as a Holacracy Practitioner in Amsterdam with Brian J. Robertson himself.

What are the key points for me?

It took me all the 5 days to get a first overview of holacracy, as the so-called constitution seems to be very complex at a first glance, but turns out to be structured clearly for providing freedom for working on the essentials of your business. So I try to summarize here what it´s all about:

First of all the separation of tribal space (me as a person) and the organisational space , where employees act in roles. Assuming, that roles are clearly defined and given a purpose , everybody is the leader of his or her role; no parental energy needed any more. This is probably what I love most about this system, that no one (yes, no one) can tell anybody else what to do . By setting clear goals and processing decisions in defined meeting structures , every owner of a role (these can be several) is taking responsibility for his domain (a field, where the owner of a role makes the decisions only), processing his or her tensions that are coming up. Tensions are the felt gap between the purpose of a role and the status quo.

Here is where the organic part comes in: we as human beings have the great capability to feel immediately if things are going into another direction than intended. In holacracy these tensions are the basis for improving the organisation , step by step. Every role taking care of its purpose, processing proposals to improve the status quo. Improving it to the better, not to the perfect: the next step in evolution, but not THE right solution. The single roles are pulled together in thematic circles, which cover the main competences of an organisation, such as the leader board, sales or innovation e.g.

With the combination of the mentioned attitudes, holacracy beats our existing organisational structures, in being smart (with people) and agile (in decisions), as processes run fast, among the experts and improve continuously . This so-called self-sustaining organic algorithm reaches a higher performance level than any organisation designer could build. The nice side effect is that organisational structures become independent from heroic players and leaders. A world without bottlenecks and personal mental states.

Quick wins in implementing Holacracy

ambuzzador decided to start with the meeting structure : separating tactical meetings from governance meetings , keeping consequently to the foreseen structure. What we are winning?

  • A quick overview about what has already been executed and what is still pending,
  • a common understanding of the metrics,
  • empowerment for each role, as the others do not co-discuss any longer and
  • a clear focus on the prioritized projects.

Finally, this helps build a feeling of safety for the individual, acting in his or her role and not mixing it up with personal matters.

But of course this is only the beginning. Right now we are working on the evaluation of implementing the whole system. Setting our focus on the compatibility with the organisational structures of partners and customers.

Brian J. Robertson is coming to Vienna!

There is the great opportunity to meet Brian in Vienna:


Thanks to my fellow students Martin (DE), Carola (NL), Theo (NL), Meemee (NL), Simon (DE), Lisa (AT), and Tony (South Korea) for a great experience!