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

Query to the Holacracy community

Dear Friends!

 I am writing to you from Poland, the biggest country in East Central Europe, member of the European Union for 12 years now. I am a business trainer with many years of experience in trainings in interpersonal communication, negotiation skills, sales and building effective teams. I am writing to you to verify with you what I have learned about Holacracy and to ask your advice and clarifications so that I can understand it better and present it to others.

 For a few years now, I have been able to observe in Poland a growing interest in Total Participation in Management (TPM) and a few companies have already implemented it (or are in the transition process) and many others are attentively looking at this option. My intention is to help them implement TPM.

 'Reinventing Organizations' a book by Frederic Laloux, issued in Polish in 2015, presenting an insightful attitude towards TPM, unique knowledge and practical guidelines, has become a cult reading item among businessmen and entrepreneurs.

It was from Laloux that we found out about HolacracyOne and its complete, functioning system and know-how for personnel self-management, which is a ready-made solution to be introduced into businesses in a comprehensive and efficient manner. In ZAPPOS company, where Holacracy has been implemented, this book is a compulsory read for employees.

 As a business coach's motto I have adopted a short quote form Peter Drucker: 'Business is communication' - so, without communication, there is no business. The core of communication is not speaking, but listening.

Listening to people can satisfy their most basic emotional needs, such as the need of acceptance and belonging. It brings out people's potential and creativity and fosters self-realization. It is the best of being human, the meaning and purpose of life - and in business - a motivation to give one's best. Listening to fellow employees is a powerful instrument - it is the pivot of effectiveness and success of TPM.

 The other pillar of self-management is the abolition of dominance by eliminating hierarchy. It's like a return to the primordial conditions in which our human nature developed and shaped for hundreds of thousands of years and which are best for its functioning.

 The pursuit of TPM by listening and by getting rid of the hierarchic dominance and authority of one group over another and opening up new horizons to creativity, is a universal path, based on the needs of our human nature. I entirely agree with Laloux who sees Holacracy as a tool for implementing TPM. Another great thought is by Brian Robertson: under self-management every employee is a hero, not just the company president -  everyone has their own role as a leader.

 What fascinated me first in Holacracy was the procedure of your management meetings. By ensuring that everyone is heard and can influence decision-making, without anybody's dominance, the procedure is a warrant of effective matter-of-fact communication, satisfaction of emotional needs and a sense of freedom. You have solved a problem of many corporations and organisations that have accepted TPM. It was difficult for them to make decisions because meetings turned into disputes and generated conflicts without reaching any agreement, which made the process of change long and complicated. I believe that the Holacracy procedure of meeting and communicating may be, according to business people, an important argument for implementing Holacracy in their corporations.

There is one issue that has been bothering me, as perhaps a future Holacracy advocate. It is a question about the purpose of Holacracy. I am addressing it to you on this forum, asking for your point of view, based on the knowledge and experience of your holacratic practice.

 The goal of Holacracy I have found in sources available to me is related to the increase of business efficiency. This perspective - if I understand it correctly - is focused on the external sphere of human activity. So it answers the question "what is it for?" without involving the inner human layer which needs to know "what does it mean? and what is the meaning of it?"

 An approach focused on physical, measurable and objective effects is typical of hierarchical business that is present in the "machine" paradigm, according to Laloux. Bypassing human nature by the "business machine" has caused problems and barriers to development because it supresses and smothers human potential.

 The answer that can overcome the deadlock of hierarchy is self-management. It is so because self-management promotes the internal sphere of the human being and the individual and collective goals pertaining to it - related to human values and common good, and through this full potential is released both in individuals and organizations. Making profits is still important to them, but only as a goal to achieve the purpose of the organization, and the profit is not a goal itself and it is generated as a by-product of the pursuit of non-economic goals. This is clearly emphasized by Laloux and his interlocutors from companies that have implemented self-management.

 I am even more confused by Brian Robertson's viewpoint. In his book he says that organizational culture (which is a collective counterpart of the inner sphere of an individual) is needed only in hierarchies, and not in self-management and Holacracy. 

 Ken Wilber, proponent of the four quadrants model (in his book 'A Brief History of Everything'), to whom Laloux makes references in his book, emphasises the importance of spiritual development for the effectiveness of human activities. It is only the combination of the two areas - the inner and outer sphere - that makes a human a complete person and allows us to release our potential. People achieve more when they are in pursuit of this completeness, also in business. Could Holacracy (which promotes business effectiveness as the prime goal) help people achieve this.

 This is a fundamental question for me, which I need to clarify beyond any doubt. It is not just the matter of persuading others only to what I myself believe in. What is equally important, is the awareness of what is working and what is not, in order to follow the right path, without going astray and losing profit. This is a matter of cultural differences.

The American way - open and friendly is different to the European style, which is more hierarchical and competitive. At the same time - as Wilber emphasized - the Anglo-Saxon approach from which the American approach originates is more focused on the effects of actions, while the continental European approach puts an equal stress on spirituality. These circumstances bear consequences for the implementation and working of Holacracy in Poland.

 The dilemma between efficiency and spirituality that I have described is ground for speculation in the Polish business circles that Holacracy, full of regulations and representing a physical goal, is more suited for hierarchical corporations, as a tool of self-management. Hence the distance and mistrust that can affect the chances of Holacracy getting popular to Poland.

 If HolacracyOne is planning to embark on our market, now is a good time to start presentations and trainings. We are good listeners, full of energy and optimism - we believe in American top-notch solutions and we are open-minded to them.

 I'm interested in your opinions on my approach to TPM and Holacracy. What would you draw my attention to and what are your suggestions?

 Mieczysław “Mike” Krause

Elbląg, Poland

krause@mtk-biuro.pl

5 Replies
Jean-Michel Gode
05/10/2017

Hi Mike,

I'd suggest to attend a Holacracy Practitionner training.
This should help to answer part of your questions.

Regards.

Tom Mulder
05/11/2017

[@mention:558912626610594417] [@mention:493465881837995141]

Mike,

Ewa Bocain is a certified Coach in Poland and she already provides Holacracy Taster sessions in Poland. She can also discuss with you the question and feeling you have.

Mike-2211
05/11/2017

Dear friends Jean-Micel and Tom, thank you very much for your kindness and useful tips.Following your advice, I will now try to address my questions to Ms Ewa Bocian, Holacracy coach in Poland. King regards, Mike

Mike-2211
05/12/2017

Ewa Bocian, the Holacracy coach you guys recommended to me, asked me about my impressions of being on the Holacracy forum. I said I felt like an ant watching an elephant's trunk swinging above it in a friendly and caring way. In an hour long phone talk Ewa put me on the right track. I got my answer to the question I asked the Holacracy community. Thank you so much. Special thanks to Ewa and Matt in particular.

Angela Spaxman
05/15/2017

Thanks for posting, Mike. I believe you address some very core issues affecting the decision to implement Holacracy or not. I have also been on a journey of investigation with Holacracy over the past year, and I concur that there is no substitute for training and experience ...particularly experience within the relevant culture. If you'd like to understand more about my views, you could read the article I just wrote. http://spaxman.com.hk/news-eve...-in-self-management/