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

Holacracy and lean management


I work in a big organization that is structured around processes besides its organizational chart. The processes are not really lived as described in theory but processes are seen as very important to structure complex end2end services. We are going to implement Holacracy in one part of the company which includes an operational department that follows defined processes and they have clear inputs and outputs that are nearly always the same. Besides the implementation of Holacracy, one important topic for them is improving their processes through lean management.

So my question is: In what way do Holacracy and lean management/processes go together? Do you even need processes if you have clearly defined roles with purposes and accountabilities?

3 Replies
Andrea Faré
Hi Anja, yes processes are rarely “lived” when they are detached into separated description documents buried into some company folder. There are some modern  ways to overcome that, i.e. by adopting business process management suites by which your personal involvement in a process is triggered by some IT platform that keeps track of what is expected from you in which step, therefore implying that you have an implicit “role” in that process. 
If by Lean Management, in production environment, we essentially define a set of practices aimed at increasing process effectiveness by continuous improvement, then we could say that the way Holacracy targets that aspect, is by basically removing the (human) process from the document and spreading it into role accountabilities. Each process participant can then look at his role description(s) and find out what is expected from him as far as inputs/ouputs/work to be done/interactions with other roles, in each specific process are concerned.
The advantage is twofold:
1) you, as a role filler,can look at your roles an know exactly what is expected that you do
2) you can bring your tensions relevant to the effectiveness of the process by proposing changes to various role dimensions ( accountabilities and domains: not only yours but those of others as well), the result being exactly what lean management aims at.
There are other ways you could encode formal processes into an organization adopting holacracy (by means of policies the refer to specific constrains and rules of engagement you want to enforce, or  even by pointing out that a specific process must run according to the way it is designed by a specific process designer role on a specific platform… The possibilities are virtually endless). Let me know if this response targets your need.

Hi Anja, our organization is process-focused, in a way where we aim to have "live process maps", key working documents help guide our company on a daily basis. We have also adopted Holacracy. When tensions surface, we use process mapping as a means of determining what part of the process is not working, i.e., involves a slight modification or process build-out in an area of process that needs clarification (and corresponding development of roles/accountabilities), or an entirely new process. We have been doing this moreso for the last 4-5 months, and I would be happy to keep in touch on our progress if this might assist you folks as well. 

Koen Veltman

Hi Anja,

i have done a lot of lean process implementation as a consultant. And just like you and [@mention:452086181438015612]Describe it is all focused around a professor instead of around people doing the work in the process. 


A good way to integrated the process thinking in Holacracy is to admention other roles in accountabilities. E.g. "Packaging our product after @production and handing it over to @logistics". You get in this way very explicit how the handovers work. 


Secondly make the process/competence/trainer roles you have explicit. Whatever you currently have to boost process quality. Although don't take away ownership of quality from the peephole actually doing the process.