4 thoughts
last posted April 21, 2014, 7:40 a.m.
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Holacracy seems to be a more formalized, proprietary version of Sociocracy.

"How it works" summary:

Distributed Authority

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.

Address tensions

Sense dissonance between what is (current reality) and what could be (the purpose): the feeling of a “tension”.

Unprocessed tension festers into frustration, burn-out, and disengagement. Tensions are only useful to the extent the organization can process them into meaningful change.

Governance and Governance Meetings:

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.

Governance meetings:

  • Generate explicit and light-weight role definitions that are actually meaningful
  • Give everyone a voice, without the tyranny of consensus
  • Apply clear rules that prevent egos or politics from dominating
  • Focus a team on fast, incremental improvements in light of real data
  • Continually restructure the organization, one tension at a time

Operations and Tactical Meetings

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:

  • Every agenda item gets processed every meeting, on-time every-time
  • The focus is on next-actions, not endless analysis
  • Metrics are surfaced and checklists are reviewed – quickly
  • No one hides – radical transparency shows all progress, or lack thereof

Holacracy's approach seems to clearly separate:

  • Choosing who is responsible and what they are responsible for.
  • Working through decisions and actions within the scope of those responsibilities.

I very much appreciate the notion of "sensing dissonance between what is (current reality) and what could be (the purpose)."

Reminds me very much of the Dee Hock line of thinking:

"What if we set aside all discussion of as things were, as they are, and as they might become, and immersed ourselves in how they ought to be?"


Holacracy has software specifically for identifying roles, groups, and their structure and relationships.

Here's Holacracy's visualized and explorable "org chart" using their software, GlassFrog.