Holacracy is a distributed authority system – a set of “rules of the game” that bake empowerment into the core of the organization. Unlike conventional top-down or progressive bottom-up approaches, it integrates the benefits of both without relying on parental heroic leaders. Everyone becomes a leader of their roles and a follower of others’, processing tensions with real authority and real responsibility, through dynamic governance and transparent operations.
Related reading: Blog post: Empowerment is Dead; Long Live Empowerment
Related reading: The Holacracy Constitution: the actual rules of Holacracy
Holacracy harnesses the conscious capacity of those within to sense dissonance between what is (current reality) and what could be (the purpose): the feeling of a “tension”. When there’s lack of clear and effective channels for processing tensions, they fester into frustrations, burn-out, and disengagement. Tensions are only useful to the extent the organization can process them into meaningful change. Holacracy provides several explicit channels to process tensions.
Holacracy installs clear processes for “governance” and “operations” – in every team, at every level of scale. Governance is about working “on” the organization, and operations is about working “in” it – each has different mechanisms for processing tensions into actionable clarity.
Related reading: Blog post: Processing Tensions
With Holacracy, regular governance meetings structure and evolve how the work gets done – everyone leaves with clarity on who is accountable for what, with what authority, and what constraints. These change dynamically with every meeting, based on the real tensions sensed while doing the work. A structured process ensures the organization’s purpose is at the center. Governance Meetings:
Related reading: Blog post: The Power of Governance
Governance clarity enables most work to get done by clear roles using clear authority, outside of painful meetings and group consensus-seeking. On the ground, a team’s operational flow is synchronized by regular Tactical Meetings that facilitate rapid-fire triage of key issues. Anything in the way of getting the work done gets identified and processed into clear next-actions and target outcomes. In Tactical Meetings:
Related reading: Handout: Tactical Meeting Process
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