Actually the first months lasted for half a year. If you prepare to deploy Holacracy by yourselves you will have to prepare for a hard and complex change management process. If you haven't practiced or heard about change management meet these fine penguins and their melting iceberg...
This half a year (between 2013 q4 and 2014 q1) was a kind of experimental interval. Our reasons to go for holacracy were these:
- We needed a kind of organizational operation system anyway.
- As an IT company, we were familiar with agile
- We looked for a lean solution
- We looked for a scalable solution
- We wanted empowerment
- We were on the brink of growing above 30 which is the first level where complexity usually rises and becomes a risky obstacle.
I was very conscious (and fearful) about the latter one, which made me hurry.
I would say the level of deployment is around 33% now. The supporting processes, like HR, finances, bizdev and some more are governed and managed via governance and tactical meetings and defined as circles. These supporting processes in our case include less employees but more roles and more policies than the core activity.
My learnings about holacracy during this time:
- Applying it is a fundamental paradigm shift.
- I would compare the complexity of holacracy deployment to reorgs, workshops, trainings and coaching of every employee of the company in the same period of time with very high intensity.
- It is painfully hard to do without help, but it is possible
- You need a sponsor. An owner, or a board member, and you got to be the champion.
- The speed of deployment depends on the speed how the skill of facilitation spreads.
- Elections are scary first, but it's no big deal.
- Processing tensions by integral decision making - in my opinion - is worthy of a Nobel prize in itself. Reducing the number of tensions in the company periodically gives the company the acceleration of a TESLA sport car. Although...
- you have to realize that first things will come first. Tensions won't let you make shortcuts or procrastinate on critical issues.
- It is not a good system for bad apples. Transparency is evolving fast.
For me the biggest proof is that over this half a year we grew in number from 30 to 40. We didn't even feel any of the typical problems that arise when your company grows and complexity occurs in a higher level. We managed to reduce complexity by consciously working on the tensions. And this was only the beginning. The best is yet to come...