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

Working at Pace

I've looked across the forum but haven't found anything that addresses my issue. If I've missed it, please let me know!

One of the issues facing the business I'm in is how to shift the culture to one that operates at pace.

End Effect

I'm minded of a technique pioneered by Mark Forster - see - http://markforster.squarespace.com/

There's a technique I've found really helpful for my own productivity, which is to create an end effect.

The end effect is the burst of energy and focus we experience when we have a "real" deadline - we promised something to a client or our publisher or whatever and it's time to deliver!

Structuring one's time into a series of end effects can really improve productivity - having a defined rather than an undefined period of time in which to carry out a task. For example, five things need doing, so give each of them 30 mins each and whilst you're not working on the other four your sub-conscious mind is working on them in the background. Allocating only 30 mins to a longer task gets you into movement and is much less scary.


Sprints within Agile works similarly - the quality, resources and elapsed time are fixed and the scope of what gets done is the variable. Project work is prioritised for a given time box and a projection of what could get done is made and then what actually gets done versus the estimate is reviewed at the end of the time box together with what's been delivered.


It a given in Holacracy that we ask for a projection not a what-by-when commitment.

My Issue

With any creative project - and my issue is with creative projects - there is no end to how long one could take - a book or a script etc. - can take a month, a year, ten years.

My experience is that to iterate towards a creative product is the best way - with do and review cycles sufficiently frequent to generate end effects but not so frequent that it diminishes creativity and quality.

Whilst in none of my roles can I direct work any longer, what's the Holacracy answer to encouraging end effects for individuals and circles?

6 Replies
Jeff Kreh

[@mention:563276256657367283], I find that the beauty of holacracy rests in the expectation of self-leadership.

I impose deadlines on myself and believe that they are helpful for anyone (unless I'm writing or producing music...then there's a whole nother 'Flow' that occurs). However, I don't have the right to impose deadlines upon others. This restriction has at least the dual impact of inviting me to ask others regarding when they project that they'll finish and keeping me from trying to manage others (which diverts me from the primary activities in my role(s)).

So, I'd say coaching others to prioritize and, if helpful for them, set deadlines for themselves allows those who will benefit from deadlines to own that benefit -- which should increase the helpful activity. Thank you, BTW, for the link.


What about stating the Project in the completed form and next step(s)? Maybe that's more of a GTD (Getting Things Done) approach, but is mentioned in Holacracy.

Andrew Scott

[@mention:477139080146610445] and [@mention:540614972112444841] - thanks for your comments. They got me thinking. I'm so used to external pressure being the prime mover of organisational performance rather than self-leadership and dialogue.


Hi Andrew - I focus most on what you say here: "Whilst in none of my roles can I direct work any longer, what's the Holacracy answer to encouraging end effects for individuals and circles?"

I think a focus on the opportunity one has to help clarify the external pressures into types of roles your organization needs to have, to get this work done, might perhaps be an area to consider, to help your tension. 

You have the opportunity to see how those roles and circle activities are performing against client metrics such as delivery time and quality. New role fillers can be found to provide better metrics, or additional resources might be needed to aid certain roles.  Hope this perspective might help you as well!

Konrad Olesiewicz

Hi Andrew!

Thanks for brining up a great issue. Being somewhat a productivity nerd myself at some point I observed what really made me go work at pace. My take on this is that despite Holacracy being a "super autonomous", "my domain" type of arrangement, it is basically community/collbaration based so I would focus on this aspect.

So my goal would be to set-up a kind of "peer-review" system for the work that basically would shorten the feedback loops and give context who is waiting for what and why it is important. 

For me, the most important thing is the keep the momentum and it's either deadlines or needs of other people or the project (a.k.a. something bigger).

I come from Game Development background and we often get stuck with "feature creep" and "it's done when it's done mindset". Sometimes when we get stuck we do "game jams". They usually last 1-3 days and the aim is to produce "something" to get unstuck.

If you have a circle responsible for a specific project maybe you can alter your circle's  tacticals to more of a "sprint like" reviews once per month or so as a starting point and then see if it helps the creatives or not.


Andrew Scott

[@mention:490369024555051593] and [@mention:564684143600201011] thanks for your feedback.

Tracey - I like the metrics point. Got me thinking about developing metrics further for my business.

Konrad - good point about feedback loops. The Agile daily stand-up is a good discipline for this, I know that I experience different emotions with it - can get boring, feel sheepish when I had a poorly disciplined day, animated when I got something significant complete etc.