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

After a year - hitting the limits - getting unstuck

We’ve been using Holacracy at GrantTree for about a year - and I’ve been the champion of the implementation, so I’ve done the H1 practitioner training, and I’ve done a lot of thinking about the system and how it seems to work, what’s effective behaviour in H, what H helps us to etc

And I feel like I’m really starting to get stuck with it - and I see my organisation getting stuck too.

Where I’m stuck is: there are some things that are outside the limits of Holacracy. Some of them are explicitly outside it’s scope (people and teams), some of them it’s not clear but it seems to me they are (how to unite people behind a shared direction of travel - when the hierarchy of purpose isn't enough; how to work effectively - when a GTD approach isn't enough).

I see that you can hack some of this stuff into the existing structures - but we've tried it, and it feels a bit unnatural, they don’t really seem fit for purpose for these particular purposes.

But the way that Holacracy feels so comprehensive - the way it sort of spreads itself out as if it’s going hold all of the structures of the org - makes it hard to navigate these things that are out of scope. And the way the Constitution is "messy code" - some of the key features of the way the system is practiced (like time-boxing meetings, or what makes a valid domain) seem to emerge as a result of the interaction of different parts. So it's not always obvious where you could start hacking things.

Is this a familiar problem to anyone? I'm particularly interested to hear from people in other organisations that have been using H for more than a year.

1 Replies
Olivier Compagne

[@mention:544274267239861666] Thanks for this post, it's a great reflection to have and kudos for seeking help when you're starting to feel stuck, vs. just staying stuck!

I can share that I've experienced some of that at HolacracyOne, and I've seen that happen in client organizations I've worked with. Most of the time, in client organizations, it's been the result of a misapplication of Holacracy itself — they were running with Holacracy at a fairly "shallow" level, and really needed to increase the maturity of their practice. I mention that here because I've seen that especially in orgs where only a couple people have been to a training, or have been exposed to professional help in some way (training, consulting, etc.). 

I've seen that happen at times at HolacracyOne due to the lack of specific "business process app" that worked with Holacracy. For example compensation and hiring and firing. It's difficult to keep the old ways of setting compensations when you run with Holacracy because people don't have just "one job" but several roles. So Holacracy creates a need for a new way of dealing with compensations. 

At HolacracyOne, we've had to design our own Holacracy apps to address these needs. Right now the strongest need we have (in my opinion) is a better way to handle time allocation/prioritization at a more granular level. It's very useful to set overall strategies for the organization or specific circles, but it doesn't address the need to clarify priorities at a micro level. So that's something we're working on developing.

It's difficult to help you without knowing the specifics and the context of your organization. For example, what do you mean by being stuck? stuck where? what's not working? etc.
Have you had any professional help from experts? If not, I'd suggest that as a good next step. They would probably be able to identify some key challenges to work on.