This week our discussion topic is the Holacracy organizational system.  And we are asking the question “Is Holacracy too rigid?”.  Please leave your opinion in the comments.

Holacracy – so the website claims – brings structure and discipline to a peer-to-peer workplace.  Flat management structures lack the rigor to run businesses effectively it goes on to say.  Chaos and indiscipline are common assumptions of self managed environments.  Indeed, if you’ve ever suggested a flat or self-managed organizational structure to someone whose working life has been confined to top-down management structures, you’ll have heard this.  So with “traditional” structures too rigid, and self-managed environments an anarchy, Holacracy offers the middle way.  Holacracy has had some notable adopters, Twitter founder Ev Williams next company Medium is one.  Tony Hsieh’s Zappos is another.

One of the flaws of traditional management is the rigid structure makes companies slow to adapt to changing circumstances.  Employees find it difficult to understand who and how decisions are made.  Holacracy claims to resolve these problems.

As a radical and new approach to organization, it’s not surprising that some companies have struggled to adopt Holacracy. Zappos challenges have been widely reported.  A startup named August tried Holacracy and replaced it with a do-it-yourself approach.

Holacracy is governed by a 41-page constitution outlining everything from how control is delegated, how to figure out who is doing what, to how to resolve tensions. It’s ironic that the governance of Holacracy appears to be as rigid as a traditional hierarchical organization.

Discussion Questions

  • Are Holacracy’s rules and governance necessary to avoid anarchy?
  • Will these rules and governance stifle the creativity promised by having a self-managed organization?
  • Are the rules simply too complex and rigid for actual humans to adopt?

Share your opinion in the comments.

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