Here is the summary. I believe you will find it of great value to read all the comments if you are considering adopting/adapting it for your company or just intrigued by the idea.
When and Where Will Holacracy Work Best?
Holacracy, or self-management, is an interesting concept and not entirely new. It can work, but only under the right conditions. And its applications will be limited. That’s what one might conclude from reading responses to this month’s column.
The more thoughtful of them provide a primer on applying the concept. Deborah Nixon’s comment echoed several others when she said the idea has been around a long time in other forms, by other names. “The larger an organization becomes, the tougher one model is to implement. The time has always been ripe for self-management and there are always people who will poke up their heads and insist on managing themselves. But it isn’t a quick fix.” Others cited its long-time application in the London taxi system (Andrew Campbell), the hospital ER (M Iqbal Gentur B), and even Aboriginal societies in ancient Australia (Kai Akerberg).
Stephens Jr., who loves the idea, said, it does not come without extensive time, cost, and involvement in employee development. “I not only say yes (to the question of whether the time is right for self-management), but ‘it’s about time.’” Dyan Porter added, “Holacracy strikes me as a positive way to manage professionals, especially in flat organizations where job advancement is limited.” Brooks Tanner commented, “Regardless of its level of success at Zappos, this form of organization is the way of the future. The rapidly increasing complexity and unpredictability of our world is such that only a highly distributed decision-making structure will be able to adapt and respond effectively, she continued. “Most of us don’t think a centralized planning type economy makes sense. Why should it make the most sense for organizations?”
Others saw limited potential in the concept. As Edward Hare put it, “There are some people capable of managing themselves in a larger organization … but many who can’t… This strikes me as another of those ‘ideas’ promoted by consultants and academics. ” Frank Fabela added, “Holacracy in its form of each individual taking responsibility for their own self-management is absolutely necessary, however it is the responsibility of ‘managers ‘ to ensure effectiveness of the organization through coordination of those objectives. Pure holacracy … absent management is destined to fail.” Krishnan Mak was more succinct when he said: “Culture will eat Holacracy for breakfast.”
Many comments addressed conditions under which Holacracy might work best. “It might not be for everybody,” wrote Maria Rosa Serra, “but if you hire employees aligned with your values and pay them fairly, it seems an interesting proposal for both the company and the individual.” Juan Manuel Salas Guevara commented that the challenge in Holacracy “is a strong communication process from the top level of the organization that enables each member to understand the company’s vision.” Charlie Efford added that “The key to self-management becoming embedded is changing the mindset of the management team. Most corporations haven’t made this shift.” Denis Collet suggested “it’s all about clear goals and deliverables, and the metrics for success. Absent of these it’s bound to fail.”
Personally, I agree with Krishnan Mak when he said, “Culture will eat Holacracy for breakfast.”
Last month, United personnel once again stuck their foot in it when they first refused to provide hot food to an autistic teen, although they finally relented.
The girl was fine, but the idiot pilot called for an emergency landing, called the paramedics and the cops.
When the officers started to leave, the captain stepped out of the cockpit and said something to them, Beegle said. They then asked her family to leave, she said.
“He said, ‘The captain has asked us to ask you to step off the plane.’” Beegle said. “I said, ‘She didn’t do anything’ … But the captain said he’s not comfortable flying on to Portland with [Juliette] on the plane.”
All of this with the full support of management.
United said its “crew made the best decision for the safety and comfort of all of our customers and elected to divert to Salt Lake City after the situation became disruptive.”
Passengers who witnessed the whole thing and posted videos said it was total bunk.
Of course, what UAL did to this child was far worse than breaking a guitar, but it goes to show their motto is still “the customer is always wrong, no matter what.”
“I found Pinterest to be a very different sort of culture than I’m used to. One of the most unique things is that the company really values interdisciplinary work across the different functional areas of the team. The notion of empathy is deeply understood here. At other companies there’s a bit more of a competitive or even ruthless perspective, so it was really refreshing to see the level of cooperation here.”
He goes on to say,
“There’s definitely a stereotype of a successful startup that it’s often this aggressive, type A place and that’s just not necessarily true. You can have geniuses that are nice or geniuses that are really egotistical. But they’re both geniuses. So, we really want to work with the geniuses that are nice to each other and have a common level of respect.”
While the founders are male, the culture they developed is one where women thrive.
“It was a revelation to join the team at Pinterest and feel like I was treated like an engineer first, not as a female engineer. In most other places, I felt like people always treated me as a “female engineer,” like I was a novelty. People even called me a unicorn to my face. It was really nice to come here and not have that gender modifier in front of who I am.” –Tracy Chou, Pinterest engineer
Pinterest’s culture fosters creative collaboration and mutual respect because it is the absolute opposite of the typical frat-boy startup culture so common in the Valley.
According to The Information, computer security companies are being brought on to advise other companies about startups they are thinking of acquiring, and VCs are including cybersecurity experts as part of their due diligence when they look to invest in companies.
Security has been an after thought, if that; a feature that the company would get to as soon as [whatever] happened.
The déjà vu hit because that is the same attitude companies had towards quality once-upon-a-time (some still do).
After conception, architecture, design and manufacturing were done the product was sent to QC (quality control) and back up the line if there were problems.
In many cases the quality flaws were actually designed into the product or the manufacturing process itself, which made fixing them very expensive or impossible.
The same problem happens when security is the afterthought.
Any fool knows that if the wrong grade of steel is specified for a bridge or the spec is changed to facilitate speed or budgetary concerns the bridge is likely to fail sooner rather than later.
Zukerberg’s oft repeated “move fast and break it” is proving to be a deal breaker in a more ways than one.
Most of the responses were justifications from VCs, but two provided a refreshing dose of reality.
Not surprising that neither are VCs.
The reason they want warm intros is because they are too lazy to research things themselves and many of them don’t know anything about starting a company or building one. The smart experienced guys at the top who have actually done something are too busy so they have the dime-a-dozen MBAs they hire do grunt work. Since the d-a-d has never actually built anything, and doesn’t really know what you do, they want a “warm” intro. Warm means someone else they can blame if they screw up yet again. –David Feldman, CEO, ZF Micro Solutions, Inc.
Classism. No further to look than that. Let’s not make it complicated by trying to avoid the unpleasant. –Michael O. Church
“I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.” (…)
“We don’t think you should ever have to trade it for a service you think is free but actually comes at a very high cost. This is especially true now that we’re storing data about our health, our finances and our homes on our devices.”
“We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.” –Apple CEO Tim Cook, honored for ‘corporate leadership’ during EPIC’s Champions of Freedom event in Washington.
So the next time you sign in to Facebook, Google, Square, Twitter, etc., keep in mind that they aren’t selling their souls to make a buck, they are selling yours, your family’s and your friends’.