The concept of Holacracy (Robertson) is based on the assumption that the top-down and predict & control paradigm no longer suffices. Holacracy is a way of organising in which the organisation continuously adjusts itself. Holacracy consists of the following elements:
1. clear rules of the game which redistribute the decision making powers and authorities and empower those who are connected with the daily reality of the organisation on the ground
2. a new structure with clear roles and mandates
3. a decision making process for continuously updatint these roles and mandates (governance meetings) – also see the post about Governance in Holacracy.
4. a specific set of meetings to safeguard the connectedness between the organisational entities and to get things done. (operational / tactical meetings) – also see the post about Governance in Holacracy.
ad 1. Holacracy builds on the process and not on personal leadership and this makes the organisation less dependent on one or more strong leaders which is typical for many organisations. This ilso creates a more equal dynamic than the parent – child relationship which characterises the dynamics between different (management) layers in many organisations. The redistribution of power and decision making authorities is done in such a way that everyone’s role, responsibilities and mandates are clear and there is no overlap between roles. Each role has a distict and confined responsibility about which only that particular role can make decisions. In Holacracy there are no traditional managers who (can) prescribe how certain tasks need to be performed. Each role has clear responsibilities and each role can to take decisions autonomously within the boundaries of that responsibility. Obviously, each role can ask for help, input or advice from others.
ad 2. The traditional organisational structure in Holacracy is replaced by circles. Traditional job descriptions are replaced by roles. Circles can exist next to each other or can be part of a larger circle. The overarching circle which spans the whole organisation is called the anchor circle. People can fulfill multiple roles and they can be part of multiple circles. Each circle has – next to the roles that are necessary to deliver the primary process of that circle – a number of specifically designed roles: lead link role, facilitator, secretary, representative link role. the lead link is being appointed by the lead of the super circle – the larger circle of which the particular circle is a part. The lead link monitors objective and strategy of the circle and assignes roles to people. the representative link role is being elected by people who are part of the circle. The rep link represents the circle’s perspective in the super circle, or overarching circle and ensures – through governance meetings – that the overarching circle creates the right conditions for the proper functioning of the circle.
Also the facilitator role and the secratary role are elected by the people in the circle. The facilitator chairs the operational and governance meetings of the circle according to a specified protocol and the secretary provides transparent reporting of the agreements made so these can be accessed by all at all times.
Brian Robertson, 2015, Holacracy, Henry Holt & Co.