Benefits to Switching to Holacracy and How to Ease Into It

Workforce is changing and so is company culture. We take a peek into Holacracy and how that may bring agility to your organization.

November 2, 2021

Benefits to Switching to Holacracy and How to Ease Into It

November 2, 2021

Some organizations have been founded with the idea that rigid management is necessary to thrive and old hierarchical structures are a need. But as working culture evolves into an agile workflow, what are organizations opting for?

In this article, we’re giving you the lowdown on:

  •  How old management styles could affect your organization
  •  We dive into the benefits of stepping into the world of Holacracy with a special interview with Holacracy Coach, Koen Bunders from Energized.org
  • Tools to help your team kick-off on an effective self-organization journey and distribution of roles

Are Old Management Styles Obsolete?

We’ve all been managed by someone, or we’ve all managed a team – relax, we're not the management police – but we’ve all been part, to some extent, of poor management. For decades working culture fed into the idea that power meant imposing, which subsequently led to abuse of power. In reality abuse of power and positions has only led to unproductivity and fear amongst teams and employees – causing severe exhaustion, burnouts, stress and anxiety. 

I myself have been a victim of burnouts – twice, yes, twice! And it was all due to poor management, fear and losing confidence in companies that were not letting me thrive and take ownership of my own potential. I could stay here and let you in on all things that drove me crazy, but I’ll entertain you with that humiliation for some other time. 

Studies have shown that employees – especially millennials – are no longer sitting around and entertaining working environments that don’t promote positive communities and teams. Millennials are now paying attention to a company’s culture, its values and what they stand for. Many won’t even consider companies where they can’t connect to managers or colleagues with non-work related topics: “Overall, millennials say they want a more relaxed and open work environment. They want to use new technology at work, communicate openly with managers and peers and maintain some flexibility."

With this rapid change of attitude and mindset in working cultures, companies are now shifting – and hopefully realizing – that old and rigid management is not the best call for its employees to succeed, let alone the company itself. 

In fact, many successful companies have fallen due to poor leadership, lack of transparency and abuse of traditional hierarchy. According to an article published by E-careers, one of the most talked about examples of how poor management leads to failure and lack of transparency is the infamous case of Enron. The company went “from $100 billion in ‘revenue’ and 29,000 employees at the beginning of 2001, to filing for bankruptcy at the end of the same year.”

And how did lack of transparency and poor management play a vital role in this? Executives were taking advantage of loopholes to hide high numbers of debt, subsequently deleting the information and misleading the board of directors with what was really happening behind the scenes. Enron’s infamous bankruptcy case is just one example of how a mogul of a company can go from being ‘prolific’ to filing for bankruptcy in less than a year due to lack of transparency.  

So What are Leaders Opting for?

Visionary and modern leaders want to create a safe space where trust and respect is embedded in the company’s DNA, so employees get the opportunity to take ownership of their own roles and contribute seamlessly within teams and colleagues. 

But what does it mean to be “a modern leader”? According to a study by HR Zone, a modern leader is one who is humble, ready for feedback, looking for creativity and prepared to learn. Many have now realized that in order to take their companies to new heights, allowing their teams to achieve their own creative potential and freedom of expression is vital. 

Great companies like Google – which ranked #1 for best company culture in 2020 – are opting for distribution of leadership amongst the company. An article on their leadership style stated that the billion-dollar brand believes in independent thinking, empowering their employees so they can implement their initiatives, subsequently everyone growing and thriving for the better of the employees and company.

So How Do We Step Into an Agile Workflow? 

Perhaps switching to holacracy could work for your organization for an agile approach. To those new to the term, Holacracy is a set of rules by which people in a team work together collaboratively and decide on how they wish to function together. Holacracy is an effective and efficient way of working for self-organization – by which each person partakes in roles taking full ownership. And what are the results? Leading with confidence while staying true to themselves and working collectively. 

Coach Koen Bunders from Energized.org shares what are the top three benefits into practicing holacracy:

1. No more inherent immunity to change

2. Autonomy AND alignment within the organization

3. Alignment of the role of the organization in the world. This means consciousness that the previous point (autonomy and alignment) doesn't stop at the boundary of the organization. No, there is a role to be played in the bigger context, the world, our community and it translates to purpose. 

So Your Team is Thinking of Making THE Big Switch? 

Holacracy could be a bit of an adjustment at the beginning, but with the correct tools and help of a great coach, the transition could be smoother and efficient with bolder results. Coach Koen Bunders shares with us his top advice when switching to holacracy: “My advice is to take time for making this shift. The shift can be and will be very gradual anyway. Even when the ambition is to make a big dramatic powershift at once, in reality it will be a gradual step by step process of learning and unlearning. What I like about this framework is that it totally allows for a gradual approach.” 

But really, why should your organization be making THE BIG SWITCH? 

Coach Bunders, shares his thoughts on the subject: “The management hierarchy has been super successful. It has helped create a world too complex to be handled by a management hierarchy. A logical evolutionary step is to transcend and include the management hierarchy. I believe currently Holacracy is the best framework in doing that. Any business and any company will need to shift towards an operating system that allows for safe, fast and reliable change instead of opposing change. Any organization wants to unlock its power by allowing individual entrepreneurship and autonomy while staying aligned to its purpose at the same time. In practice, I see this is not just good for the organization and its purpose, but I also see people thrive again.”

And how to ease into Holacracy if you’re new, or thinking of adopting this method?

  1. Invest in an agile/Holacracy coach to help you (if you’re the CEO) and your team to navigate these new waters. 
  2. Have your team attend a workshop to understand this practice better and not let overwhelm get the best of everybody. 
  3. Create an onboarding plan for your team
  4. Get a platform that supports this practice for a better understanding and practice

And as for CEOs and Managers, what are the necessary tools for adopting holacracy? Coach Bunders shares: “The most important tool: awareness. Awareness of where you are and where you want to be. Get a good coach. Start where you are at. Make gradual progress. Deliberate practice.”

And for your teams, what are the necessary tools that could help them become more effective and lead with autonomy? 

Holaspirit is a platform designed to make self-organization easier with clear objectives and visuals. We offer agility at scale bringing transparency into your organization’s structure with a clear picture of who has authority to decide. We make project management an easy ride offering a myriad of features to help your team stay on top of your game with resourceful tools. 

Useful tools at a glance:

  • Tactical Meeting [Template]: Great for team meetings, structured and effective with metrics, checklists and more - for greater results.  
  • Shared Governance: Distribution of roles is vital to kick off your holacracy practice effectively. Distribute the responsibilities and provide autonomy to your team to lead with confidence. 
  • Project Roadmap: A great tool for your team to understand and document the process of your project. Leave it clear and simple for everyone to understand and avoid miscommunication. 
  • Tensions: This tool is a powerful one as it provides the opportunity for anyone to vocalize any queries, tension, issues, etc – to later, discuss with peers in a tactical meeting. 





But now that we have shared some effective tools to start your journey in holacracy, what is the biggest misconception many could have in regards to this method/practice? 

Coach Koen Bunders answers: That it is no fun. Inhumane. Many practitioners complain about this. Where did the fun go? Why does it feel so inhumane? Like in any learning curve with learning to practice Holacracy you will go through stages of fusion, differentiation and then integration. When learning to differentiate human aspects like soul and ego from the role and deliberately practice to energize the role(s) you choose to have, often people will miss out on the interpersonal human fun that was fused in their meetings and work. The biggest misconception is that this is where the journey should end. No. Please, learn to integrate these things again, but only after differentiating the two aspects in different spaces.” 

So whether you’re thinking to switch and practice holacracy, or you’re already on the road to self-organization and seeing your team and colleagues thrive, we advise you to invest in a coach to make your journey a smoother one – but don’t forget that tools are also vital to implement this practice and operate in an agile workforce. 

If you’re thinking of starting your practice or looking for effective tools for bolder results for your organization and teams – book a demo and start today!



WRITTEN BY

Sofia Graniello

Content Specialist

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I love writing and a good cup of green tea.