There are discussions about the structure of Holacracy being hierarchic, but still showing charachteristics of a flat culture. How can that be? I have found holacracy building the structure three different ways.
Firstly it is top down, since its initial structure is derived from the anchor circle and its purpose. Also from an initial proposal. As the differentiation in the first circle cascades down to the final roles, the first iteration of the hierarchy appears.
Secondly, the hierarchy is bottom up. Each and every tension felt holds the potential to affect the organizational structure. One proposal may go on smoothly without objection, another may be escalated (via the rep link) to result in a new role or circle on a higher level. It may even alter the company purpose.
The third direction is inside out. Defining the purpose is creating a higher consciousness in a circle to reach deep down for our shared values, passions, principles and anything that drives us. The purposes of circles higher in the hierarchy may be more abstract, while granular roles may have very specific purposes. Anyway, to have clarity the conscious work on defining the alignment of purposes needs to be done.
The clarity in the aligned purposes of roles and circles has an impact on the overall consciousness of the role-holding partners. Personal energies are freely flowing and filling the roles since the tensions and obstacles are constantly removed. This energy fine-tunes the structure by adjusting the roles to the personal element.
Holacracy is neither flat nor bottom up. These terms are not useful to describe it. Holarchy works differently in different phases of the organisation. Did you experience it?