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

Holacracy and the Mutual Learning Model

I have been studying the work of Peter Senge and the unilateral control/mutual learning models and see that operating from the mutual learning model and practicing Holacracy are both ways for people to overcome controlling others.  I'm interested to hear whether you think practicing Holacracy is enough to help people overcome their tendencies to control others or would it be beneficial if they also trained in/worked on their interpersonal skills.

It feels to me that the meeting processes would overcome tendencies to control during meetings but people still need to work together outside of meetings and may not have the skills to do that well.

6 Replies
Gerald Mitterer

Hey Keely,

I guess your question is referring to the different spaces: role-ational space vs. relational space. Whereas Holacracy provides a great framework to solve tensions within role-space (eg creating clarity via governance etc.) and that definitely has a side-effect on how people show up (it feels to me as boost for personal development) it does not provide tools to address relational issues (e.g. I don't like to way you are talking to me as human being or how you criticize me ongoingly etc...).

In fact Holacracy does not and is not meant to support people in leading challenging conversations or providing feedback. It's focus is clearly on the organzational (role) space. Thus I see a strong need to build up individual skills in how we interact as human beings (may it be verbal aikido, non-violent communication, awareness practices or whatever feels appropriate and helpful...). I would typically integrate that in the process of transitioning an organization to Holacracy.

- Gerald

Jasper Rienstra

Great topic Keely and wow, beautifully phrased Gerald. And I totally agree. In our company, synnervate, we use 'complimentary practices' for all relational stuff. For us it is very helpful to admit that even when clarity is great, being fully present in relations is the biggest challenge...

At the moment we find Functional Subgrouping (a part of System Centered Training) very beneficial. Spiral Dynamics is also an important way for us to understand and deepen our relations.

Keely Maitland

Thanks Gerald, your reply clears things up for me.

Thanks Jasper, it's great to hear what you're doing.  I'll check out those organisations you mentioned.

Gerald Mitterer

Hey Jasper,


What specifically do you use Functional Subgrouping for and how?

Interested to learn more about your experiences.

- Gerald

Jasper Rienstra

hi Gerald,

Do you know/have experience with functional subgrouping? If not: google on SCT/functional subgrouping/Y. Agazarian.

Some of my (synnervate-)colleagues are highly trained&skilled in facilitating/applying this and we use it to have a very personal/relational conversation with each other, in which the undercurrent (of unspoken assumptions, opinions, worries, etc. in the relational space) can surface.

The goal is to integrate different perspectives and resolve conflicts. In our case it helps us to adress the 'storming' fase of our development as a group/org. It gives us very intense conversations, not necesarily comfortable, but great depth. 

SCT partners great with Holacracy for us: made from the same systemic/holistic worldview.

Keely Maitland

Thanks Jasper, I have just looked up SCT and it looks really promising for all the reasons that you give.  Thanks for sharing.