What We’ve Learned from Adopting Holacracy

When we first started Serious Business one thing was as clear as day — there would never be conventional hierarchical structures in our business. Despite being 5 founders taking decisions together, it is essential that everyone has an equal voice. Looking back after 4 years we still stand behind our belief 100%, though we have to admit making a holacratic structure work didn’t come as easy as we thought. It’s a constant learning process offering huge rewards if followed through with perseverance: A workplace that is characterized by trust, creative thinking, flexibility, and unbreakable team spirit. Read our holacracy article for a more thorough introduction to the topic.

Here’s an overview of the three biggest insights we gained while adopting a holacratic structure at Serious Business:

1. Don’t mistake lack of hierarchy for no structure

One of the earliest mistakes we made was interpreting a holacratic structure as a very loose structure which led to a lot of inefficiencies. We had to learn the hard way that a flat hierarchy goes hand in hand with a quite rigid structure in which people can work self-responsibly. To enable this you’ll want to have clearly defined processes or playbooks so it’s easy to onboard new members and change roles when needed.

2. If everyone is responsible no one is responsible

For holacracy to work well, every single member of the team needs to have a role that is crystal clear to others and themselves. While team members might have several roles at once, especially in small businesses like ours, it’s crucial to attach goals & responsibilities to each role (OKR is our method of choice here). As important as defining goals & responsibilities is to follow up, make progress transparent and people accountable for their responsibilities.

3. Hire the right people

Let’s be honest, not everyone is made for a holacratic structure. While some people thrive under holacracy others struggle. Therefore it’s essential to develop a skill and system to identify people that can deal with a high amount of freedom and are self-driven to flourish within a system of holacracy when hiring.

Interested in learning more about or discussing our experiences with holacracy?
Email us at [email protected] !