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

Yo, [@mention:486850353354280140]!

I work at Zappos, so I can provide you that insight you requested. Be forewarned that my suggestions are probably not the normal best practice when it comes purely to Holacracy.

In my experience, you'll see most of the same struggles regardless of how you structure. Zappos has hundreds of call center agents, but we've tried every structure you can imagine - dozens of individual teams, one gigantic team, layers and layers of Circles, two big Circles, etc. While the Governance structure certainly plays a factor, there are some far more important things at play that need to be the priority:

1) People need to feel safe bringing up Tensions. They aren't going to bring up anything if they think they could lose their job/position or will be shamed/humiliated if it's an unpopular idea. It's a huge problem to tackle, but it's the only way to actually get people to start bringing up impactful Tensions.

2) Reps need to have some degree of relationship with everyone they are supposed to be representing (whether it's the Rep Link or a rep into a Circle because they are excluded from meetings). Lots of "representative" systems fail because the reps aren't proactively reaching out to see how they can help, and the other team members don't know who the rep is or don't know them well enough to be comfortable reaching out and asking them to take on their problems for them.

3) There must be top-down support, guidance, leadership. With large Circles, it's inevitable that there will be a lot of duplication of work, people doing the same work in different ways, etc. This must be remedied by creating alignment that is constantly emphasized from the top-down. "Here is the Purpose of our Circle, and here are the specific things our Circle must do." As long as that message is clear, everyone will be doing the appropriate work regardless of structure. On the same note, if the head of a department is the one saying, "We want you to bring up Tensions. We want you to fail and make mistakes. We want you to make changes." AND their actions and decisions reflect that process, it will have a bigger impact than any structure change could have.

4) Make sure people have the authority/education/confidence/trust to solve their own problems. To combat duplication of work, make it clear whose responsible for what and give them authority, and they'll likely handle it themselves. If I am a coordinator, and 7 different people from 7 different Circles reach out to me for the same thing, that's a burden on me, so I'm going to take it on myself to pull all 7 of them together and figure out a better way to structure the work (which might result in all 7 Circles deleting that Role and simply going straight to me for their needs). Having any sort of expectation to go through a certain process (i.e., taking Tensions up the chain to then disperse it back down the chain) is going to be slow, cumbersome, and cause more problems then they'll solve. If I know I can, and should, go straight to someone, I'm going to do that.

Those are the few things that come to mind right away. If those aren't tackled first, you may find yourself restructuring over and over trying to find the "right" way to structure.

Hopefully that helps! If you ever have any other questions, feel free to PM me here or hit me up on LinkedIn.