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

3 employees organization

I am running a business with my 2 partners, at New Present Energy, renewable energy company located at SancaHub, innovation hub comprised in São Carlos, Brazil.

Today, we have a horizontal management model, but not so organized as we need to be. I've been studying holacracy and self-management, but never applied on my team.

Since we are in only 3 employees, I would like to know if there is any restriction to apply holacracy in a small company and what would be the implications of a full application x partial application in the short, medium and long term?

Thanks for the collaboration!

14 Replies
Fritz von Allmen
01/07/2018

Hi Matheus

Basically, the hard restriction would be to be at least 2 person (seggregation of Lead Link and Rep Link).

My two cents: Holacracy works for a 3-ppl-company - but it's not efficient. I think it will cost you more time to establish and run such a management model, better just have good communication processes for proper collaboration.

Unless you intend to scale hard and fast and want to lay a base, then it's a good idea to start with a responsive structure

Jeff Kreh
01/08/2018

My advice is try it out as a way to define the operational structure of the organization before growing the personnel structure. Now is a good time to capture the emerging organizational reality. 3 is a small organization, but clarity is important and will only become more important as the personnel organization grows. You simply must define the operational structure before increasing complexity - which will happen with additional personnel - if the vision and purpose might be compromised with the addition of more people. Having established roles in place also makes it easier to bring new people into the organization since they'll have a meaningful and worthwhile role to fill - to get the ground running in.

Vincent
01/08/2018

Oi Matheuz !

I quite agree with Fritz. In my experience, to apply holacracy with only 3 people and feel that the benefits are worth the efforts, you probably need  :

- either people very committed with this new social technology, very convinced

- or a big "why", a strong concrete issue that the team faces and could be tackle by adopting holacracy

- or as Fritz describes : a perspective of scaling quite soon, thant you want to prepare.

Nevertheless, I believe that the 1st option does exist. And personnaly, if I start a business even with just 1 ore two other partners, I want to do it using Holacracy because that the way I want to work. 

About the second part of your question (full x partial application), I would need to understand better what you have in mind to give you my feedback. If you're interested in, please contact me by email (v_lagalaye@yahoo.fr)  or PM so we can schedule a conversation.

Tudo de bom prara você !

Andrew Scott
01/09/2018

Hi Matheus

I can talk from direct experience as I'm in a three partner business running Holacracy.

We adopted Holacracy back in July 2017 - six months ago - after I completed the practitioner training in London. The partnership has been collaborating for two years and trading for one year, so I have before and after experience too.

The place where we are consciously breaking the constitution is that I'm both Lead Link and Facilitator. That's a consequence of me being the only one to complete the practitioner training so far, plus my background (organisation development consulting) in comparison to my two domain specialist colleagues who are without general management experience.

Holacracy has been SO helpful. We got into the bind of seeking consensus and spending a lot of time on calls talking "about" doing things rather than getting things done. Holacracy has definitely increased our productivity and made remote working easier. I'm in the UK, my other colleagues are respectively in the US and Australia.

The big issue it flushed out was that until recently we were four partners, now we are three. There is no "we" in Holacracy. Our fourth colleagues was very keen to shape the business's agenda and said often that "we" should do this and "we" should do that. When confronted with what he was going to do, i.e. take on one or more defined roles, he said "none". It became much clearer, much faster that he should no longer be a partner.

Of the three of us, one of them is Secretary and holds four defined roles, the other two defined roles and me, as well as the core roles I hold, 10 defined roles. As I'm everything not product it really helps me to be clear about the tension I'm feeling, e.g. "in my role as bookkeeping/branding/funding/technology/ "state tension".

Hopefully that gives enough of insight to be helpful. Please feel free to get in touch if you have further questions.

Kind regards,

Andrew

Matheus Ortiz
01/19/2018
Fritz von Allmen posted:

Hi Matheus

Basically, the hard restriction would be to be at least 2 person (seggregation of Lead Link and Rep Link).

My two cents: Holacracy works for a 3-ppl-company - but it's not efficient. I think it will cost you more time to establish and run such a management model, better just have good communication processes for proper collaboration.

Unless you intend to scale hard and fast and want to lay a base, then it's a good idea to start with a responsive structure

Great, Fritz! Thanks for the insights! But what would be a responsive structure? And yes, I wanna scale kinda fast and lay a base, so how much time may I spend on that model before getting unsustainable?

Matheus Ortiz
01/21/2018
Jeff Kreh posted:

My advice is try it out as a way to define the operational structure of the organization before growing the personnel structure. Now is a good time to capture the emerging organizational reality. 3 is a small organization, but clarity is important and will only become more important as the personnel organization grows. You simply must define the operational structure before increasing complexity - which will happen with additional personnel - if the vision and purpose might be compromised with the addition of more people. Having established roles in place also makes it easier to bring new people into the organization since they'll have a meaningful and worthwhile role to fill - to get the ground running in.

Thanks, Jeff! We already defined all the roles within the organization and I am wondering if that's enough, since we are only in 3 people, or if we might continue to emerge deeply in holacracy, following the constitution and all its policies. 

What do you think?

 

Thank you!

Matheus Ortiz
01/21/2018
Andrew Scott posted:

Hi Matheus

I can talk from direct experience as I'm in a three partner business running Holacracy.

We adopted Holacracy back in July 2017 - six months ago - after I completed the practitioner training in London. The partnership has been collaborating for two years and trading for one year, so I have before and after experience too.

The place where we are consciously breaking the constitution is that I'm both Lead Link and Facilitator. That's a consequence of me being the only one to complete the practitioner training so far, plus my background (organisation development consulting) in comparison to my two domain specialist colleagues who are without general management experience.

Holacracy has been SO helpful. We got into the bind of seeking consensus and spending a lot of time on calls talking "about" doing things rather than getting things done. Holacracy has definitely increased our productivity and made remote working easier. I'm in the UK, my other colleagues are respectively in the US and Australia.

The big issue it flushed out was that until recently we were four partners, now we are three. There is no "we" in Holacracy. Our fourth colleagues was very keen to shape the business's agenda and said often that "we" should do this and "we" should do that. When confronted with what he was going to do, i.e. take on one or more defined roles, he said "none". It became much clearer, much faster that he should no longer be a partner.

Of the three of us, one of them is Secretary and holds four defined roles, the other two defined roles and me, as well as the core roles I hold, 10 defined roles. As I'm everything not product it really helps me to be clear about the tension I'm feeling, e.g. "in my role as bookkeeping/branding/funding/technology/ "state tension".

Hopefully that gives enough of insight to be helpful. Please feel free to get in touch if you have further questions.

Kind regards,

Andrew

Hello, Andrew! Thanks for the insights!

I have to say that we have a super similar history, since we started in 4 and decided that the 4th should no longer be a partned for similar reasons!

Also, I am the management guy in there, responsible for facilitating the growth of both culture and strategy, as well as the management and communication systems the organization runs.

So, what I'd like to know is the breaking-constitution process, how flexible can we become when we adopt holacracy and what are the key points that we might not modify in order to keep the framework reliable and getter MORE, not less, engagement?

I mean, the defined roles, are all of them necessary in a 3 ppl org? Also, what tips do you have to run it without a lead link within the archor circle? And how important are the defined roles in the archor circle?

Thanks for the tips and insights! Have a great week =)

Jeff Kreh
01/21/2018

In a young/small org, it's easy to get caught up in doing everything without capturing and putting into roles everything. For example, as LeadLink, all undifferentiated roles and responsibilities fall to me. However, someone is probably doing extra in their role just because everything has to be done. 

There'san episode of The Office where Dwight leaves Dunder-Mifflin and goes to work at Staples. After a couple days, the plants in the office start to die and Michael wonders why the cleaning crew isn't arranging the tours on his desk anymore. Delight had taken on responsibilities without telling anyone and when he left, the office suffered due to a lack of transparency.

So, you might want to log your workday and make sure you're capturing everything in your existing or new roles. Of course, if this isn't a remain for you, feel free to flush this suggestion...

Konrad Olesiewicz
01/23/2018

Hi [@mention:575944726524854281]!

Thats a great topic. Like others I generally also feel that rolling out full Holacracy to a small org. can be difficult. I have one company that is about 6 people and I advise and coach small business owners who are scaling their org. and are not open for full roll-out. What I sometimes do is a kind of "Holacracy Light" version to keep things more tight and directed. Below is the list of "must haves" I usually do as a starting point:

  • list of roles their purposes and accountabilities
    • sometimes I do it even in a simple excel file, keeps everyone on track what's important and why, how many different things we have on our plate so it also act's as kind of "capacity tracking" for reality-check
  • a simple meeting pulse + GTD for various level
    • I set up a weekly or bi-weekly simplified regular tactical/goveranance meetings for various levels (kind of circles) of roles (usually two main levels: owners and project leaders where there are business and product decisions) .
    • of course all project and next-action must be capture in a simple GTD-style doc either in Trello or just plain Word Doc
  • purpose of company is a MUST

It's more for a start-up setup intended to scale to a more mature adoption in the future. Hope it helps and good luck!

 

 

Matheus Ortiz
01/24/2018
Jeff Kreh posted:

In a young/small org, it's easy to get caught up in doing everything without capturing and putting into roles everything. For example, as LeadLink, all undifferentiated roles and responsibilities fall to me. However, someone is probably doing extra in their role just because everything has to be done. 

There'san episode of The Office where Dwight leaves Dunder-Mifflin and goes to work at Staples. After a couple days, the plants in the office start to die and Michael wonders why the cleaning crew isn't arranging the tours on his desk anymore. Delight had taken on responsibilities without telling anyone and when he left, the office suffered due to a lack of transparency.

So, you might want to log your workday and make sure you're capturing everything in your existing or new roles. Of course, if this isn't a remain for you, feel free to flush this suggestion...

Nice history, Jeff! We are kind of adding a new business model in our company right now.

So, new roles are coming, but before them, new accountabilities are borning every single day, before we realize we need to create a role for them.

Since we dont have a Lead Link for the archor circle, how can I position myself as the Lead Link, as we have a horizontal management?

Or even, how can I get the most part of the responsabilities and decision making without being the Lead Link (since I am the only one in there that have some management/leadership background) ?

Matheus Ortiz
01/24/2018
Konrad Olesiewicz posted:

Hi [@mention:575944726524854281]!

Thats a great topic. Like others I generally also feel that rolling out full Holacracy to a small org. can be difficult. I have one company that is about 6 people and I advise and coach small business owners who are scaling their org. and are not open for full roll-out. What I sometimes do is a kind of "Holacracy Light" version to keep things more tight and directed. Below is the list of "must haves" I usually do as a starting point:

  • list of roles their purposes and accountabilities
    • sometimes I do it even in a simple excel file, keeps everyone on track what's important and why, how many different things we have on our plate so it also act's as kind of "capacity tracking" for reality-check
  • a simple meeting pulse + GTD for various level
    • I set up a weekly or bi-weekly simplified regular tactical/goveranance meetings for various levels (kind of circles) of roles (usually two main levels: owners and project leaders where there are business and product decisions) .
    • of course all project and next-action must be capture in a simple GTD-style doc either in Trello or just plain Word Doc
  • purpose of company is a MUST

It's more for a start-up setup intended to scale to a more mature adoption in the future. Hope it helps and good luck!

 

 

Thanks, Konrad! That's a helpful insight there! But I have some questions:

- how these levels meetings really work? and what's the difference between the owners and the project leaders in practice?

- how can we organize in Trello all projects and next actions in a way we can get all company's activities in a single board? we already use it, but it's not so visual and organized

- after defining and clarifying company's purpose, how can I organize the archor circle? do you even use it? how about the defined roles for the archor circle? can I just ignore them? I am wondering if there is a need of a main leader (Lead Link) in the archor circle or if we can just run it 100% horizontal. and if it's needed, how can I position myself as the Lead Link or whatever the name I'm calling this major managament guy? (since all the 3 employees are business partners, so everyone what's to decide everything)

 

 

 

Rachel Hunt
04/04/2018

Yes, I'm also wanting information on your "Holacracy Light" model for very small or startup businesses. I was moving in the direction of setting up clear roles and creating more transparent metrics and checklists already. I'm currently using Evernote for my personal GTD practice. Can I use that to keep track of role accountability as well?

 

Mikolaj
04/05/2018

Hi! Great discussion!

We have started Holacracy in our organisation one year ago. For beginning we have started as 16 people out of 70. There were, and are, many problems.

Recently I started thinking that maybe one of the issues is that Full Constitution is just too big, too complex - and it's understanding level is pretty low.

We try to cover it with trainings, but still, it has some elements that are simply not necessary in our organisation (Cross Links, Rep Links etc.)

For this reason - undestanding of rules - I started thinking about Holacracy Light model. Does any of you have some document that could be a Light Constitution?

 

 

Jeff Kreh
04/06/2018

[@mention:575944726524854281], try this: https://medium.com/21st-centur...-kernel-d85fe1e9ebd6