Holacracy Community of Practice Archive, 2015-2019 Community Holacracy Web Site

Yo, Markus!

We have a retail business as well and they seem to be working very well in terms of how the work is set up. Here are some options that may help (apologies in advance for the lengthy reply):

  1. Separate the Roles as mentioned above (retail, front desk, etc.). The same people could hold all the Roles, but it lets you clearly identify where work is coming from so you know how to prioritize, where to set expectations, etc.
  2. Depending on how the shifts work in your store, you can set an expectation to make it clear. Here are a few methods:
    1. Use focuses. As mentioned above, a focus could just be what time their shift is. I'd recommend this for schedules that don't change very often. If you have schedules that change day-to-day or week-to-week, a different option might be best (so you don't have to constantly change focuses).
    2. Set an Accountability for how you want it to work. "Working hours defined by 'Retail Scheduler'". The scheduler then has a list of who is filling each position at what times and everyone knows they are expected to do what that schedule says.
    3. Accountability, but instead something like, "Marking area of work on the daily chart and working that area." When employees come in each day, there is a chart of all the positions that need to be filled. Since everyone holds multiple Roles, it's basically first-come-first-serve when people get there each day on where they get to work that day. This lets everyone switch it up each day if they want to while still choosing their own schedules amongst themselves.

 

Markus Bohunovsky posted:
Since they hold the same role and Holacracy only recognizes roles, there is no process inside of the structure of how they would coordinate their decisions. If they used their own process outside of the structure--say, the people holding "Retail" meet to get consensus about what to do with the retail displays--that seems to undermine the principle of autonomy and quick decision making, not needing buy-in.
  • I'd argue that this is very unlikely to happen (at least not often) if everyone is communicating constantly. Set their expectations then give them the example you just provided "Person 1 does something, Person 2 switches it entirely" the employees will hopefully talk to one another to avoid this because nobody wants to be Person 1 or Person 2 in that situation.
  • Holacracy doesn't have a default defined process for these situations, but that doesn't mean you can't make one. You can create an Accountability of "Informing other Role Holders of decisions made regarding the retail displays". Now everyone is expected to do that.
  • People chatting about how to make a decision isn't always consensus or trying to get buy-in. Consensus is when you are allowing someone else to make the decision for you. In this example, it's likely just feedback and alignment. I know I can do whatever I want to with the retail display, but I also know that I don't want to do something everyone else will hate and will undo immediately, so I'll chat with my peers to get aligned on what we should do, then I'll make that call. Be careful not to avoid collaboration because it seems like "consensus" - as long as the person who has the authority to make the decision knows that and will actually be making the decision, then it's fine.

 

Markus Bohunovsky posted:
Another option would be to have a focus in the retail role that is only filled by one person, which owns the retail displays domain. But that leaves the other people filling the retail role powerless to make changes they see necessary, and reverts them back to how they would act in a "traditional" company--so I don't like that option either.

While I agree that there's probably a better way to do it right off the bat, you also want to avoid making changes just because the idea of it seems against self-management. In a traditional retail setting, I am only a cashier and a shelf-stocker. In Holacracy, I might be doing the same thing - my job is just defined in a different way. Just because I am self-managed doesn't mean I get to do whatever I want when I want. If problems have come up with way too many people trying to make displays, it's just making the work more efficient if one person takes care of the displays. That doesn't mean we aren't self-managed, it means we were self-managed and couldn't figure out a concise way of doing it, so we had to set some clear expectations on how it worked. Freedom is great, but don't feel the need to have 100% freedom in all situations, because that's rarely realistic without a very strong foundation of self-managing principles and individuals. Add just as much structure as is necessary to solve the Tension at hand. Either way, they likely still have immensely more freedom and flexibility than they did before, and they are still able to change the whole structure themselves as Tensions come up.

Freedom is great, but don't feel the need to have 100% freedom in all situations, because that's rarely realistic without a very strong foundation of self-managing principles and individuals. Add just as much structure as is necessary to solve the Tension at hand. Either way, they likely still have immensely more freedom and flexibility than they did before, and they are still able to change the whole structure themselves as Tensions come up.