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Holacracy: An Option for Team Governance in the Emerging Dynamic Workforce

The brave new workforce frontier

Deloitte recently published an article about an emerging workforce ecosystem some executive leaders are talking about, described as a structure focused on value creation for an organization that consists of complementarities and interdependencies. It also takes into consideration that the talent creating this value is not merely composed of traditional employees and some part-time workers, but also, takes into consideration gig performers, talent from other groups and partners, and digital contributors (robots, etc). The article calls into question the need for most organizations to examine their management practices to better steward and nurture this dynamic workforce into the future.

A novel approach to team governance

Through a social technology for governing and operating a team, holacracy takes the best from Getting Things Done and Agile approaches to yield a dynamic approach to collaboration and productivity. It involves continually evolving the non-hierarchical team structure based on small experiments and new information. Direction and leadership are distributed so that everyone is a leader within their roles. So, just one manager doesn’t make all the decisions and provide direction — roles are not designed by management or HR but instead created and continuously adjusted by the team itself. Holacracy is made up of roles (what work needs to be done), not people, and composed in a circle. In a circle, the focus is not on the people, but rather on the work that they do and the roles they fill. Those roles are determined by the circle itself, in regular governance meetings. There are also tactical meetings that focus on the day-to-day work of the circle. For a deeper dive into holacracy and its application, you can listen to this conversation the author had with Marco Bogers, an established author and practitioner.

What kind of company utilizes holacracy and why?

Holacracy - An Option for Team Governance

Does this idea sound too far-fetched for suitable application? The evolving workforce elicits the need for an elevated management approach to foster its talent expression, coordinate productivity, and nurture its motivation and well-being. A growing number of companies across the world are adopting holacracy as a governing approach (see the list here on Holacracy.org). While holacracy’s non-hierarchical approach is not suitable for every company, we can look to the well-known online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos as one that found merit in its application. Founded in 1999, Zappos grew to be the world’s largest online shoe and clothing retailer known for its incredible customer service, free shipping, and free 365-day return policy before it was acquired by Amazon in 2009. Zappos implemented holacracy in 2013 by replacing its conventional organizational structure. CEO Tony Hsieh (rest in peace) was reputed to be attracted to the idea of a city-like environment without central planning. Hsieh and the team were interested in creating a culture that would encourage and nurture resilience and productivity as the company grew and scaled its operations. Zappos relied heavily on holacracy for about five years and continues to evolve its culture to remain decentralized in decision-making and authority today.

As the workforce continues to evolve, the holacracy approach is one worth consideration to more dynamically pull forth the talents of each team member while also catalyzing further development of skills and engagement. Consider WorkProud as the holacratic approach to inspiring your talent, and making people feel proud of their work and their company too.



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WorkProud is committed to helping its clients create a unified approach to the employee experience by helping them build cultures of workplace pride. Trusted by millions of users at some of the world’s most recognized employer brands, WorkProud delivers a comprehensive approach to building company cultures that inspire people to be Proud of their Work and Proud of their Company.

For more information, visit www.workproud.com

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