The first impression of any Holacracy adoption project is what sets the precedent going forward.
For many organizations starting their Holacracy journey, Practitioner Training is the first experience employees have with Holacracy.
That’s why it’s so important to get it right.
But is this specific training worth the time and cost?
To help you decide for yourself, this article will address:
- What training is available
- The benefits of training for your practice
- How much training will cost
- How to choose the team members who will participate
- What to look for in a training program
What Is Holacracy Practitioner Training?
Holacracy Practitioner Training is the official beginner training to Holacracy.
While many Holacracy providers also offer “Taster Workshops” to get an introduction to the concept, the Practitioner Training is meant to teach you everything you need to know to get started. So, what does this training look like?
HolacracyOne’s website describes it with:
“Ready to adopt Holacracy? At this 4.5 day deep dive into self-management, you’ll practice facilitating meetings, using GlassFrog®, and learning the rules of the game.”
While this used to always be a single week, 4.5 days of training back-to-back, the remote nature of many workshops in the current world has led to many online trainings split over greater lengths of time. Thus, there are now more options available, but it will still likely take roughly five days to complete regardless of format.
Originally taught only by HolacracyOne directly, the official Holacracy Practitioner Training is now offered by many different Licensed Holacracy Providers. Those who offer it typically have the service listed on their website, but you can also see a list of currently scheduled training programs and who is providing them on the HolacracyOne website.
Benefits of Holacracy Practitioner Training
First impressions create lasting impressions. Thus, the initial introduction to any change is of utmost importance, especially for a change as big as implementing self-management throughout your organization.
If wrong or misleading information is the first thing people hear, you will spend copious amounts of time and energy simply trying to undo what you’ve taught them so you can get the correct message across.
This is why it’s vital to give people clear, helpful, accurate, and reliable information from the get-go.
Arguably the biggest benefit of Holacracy Practitioner Training is its consistency. All attendees receive the same information regardless of the industry or region they come from.
This is especially helpful when sending multiple members of your team to receive training.
Having every member of your organization involved with the change given the same training will help ensure alignment and understanding between different departments and across levels of hierarchy.
Furthermore, the Holacracy Practitioner Training - while intensive - gives you a taste of nearly every aspect of Holacracy.
You will get a glimpse of the meetings, the language, the tools, the practices, and much more.
So, even if you don’t retain a full week’s worth of knowledge, you will at least have seen and experienced the basics of the Holacracy playbook, enough to understand what is going on when you encounter it for real back at your workplace.
In addition, the training is regularly updated with new Holacracy resources.
Of course, this is not universally recommended. If you do not plan to implement by-the-book Holacracy and use it as-is, there is a chance such a deep dive will cause more harm than good.
You should make your decision on whether or not to attend these trainings based largely on how closely you plan to implement and follow Holacracy’s official rules.
Although the least fun part of any conversation, the cost of training needs to be addressed, as this is often the biggest hurdle for those interested in participating.
As with every aspect of Holacracy training, the costs vary wildly based on who is providing it and the format with which it is delivered.
While certainly not a comprehensive list, we will provide some of the different pricing options (rounded for simplicity) based solely on listings on the Holacracy website at the time this article was written.
The majority of in-person trainings are in the $3,500-$4,000 range, with those provided by HolacracyOne being at the highest end.
This cost does not include travel and lodging, which is something else to take into consideration.
We saw one online event (so no additional travel/lodging costs) listed for half that ticket price at $2,000.
There was also one still for half THAT cost at $1,000 for a module-based training with videos you could watch at your leisure and maintain access to for months.
For those who want to maximize savings and/or prefer to do things on their own schedule rather than having to carve specific dates out of their calendar, this might be a great option.
What Influences the Price
At first glance, we see massive price discrepancies, but there are a few things to be aware of that may or may not play a role.
First is the language differences. Practitioner Trainings are offered in English, German, Dutch, French, and more. The preferred language of the audience likely contributes to the demand for events in different regions.
The formats also play a difference, as in-person events often require far more time, expense, and logistics to put on. For many, face-to-face learning is valuable enough to warrant an increased price.
Getting a Discount
Of course, nearly all of these offerings have discounted rates for early-bird specials and group discounts.
Thus, if you are looking to get many of your employees trained at once or know you’d like to partake well in advance, you can take advantage of these price-saving options.
Who Should Be Involved in the Training
A major question when signing up for a training program is how many of your staff should go.
Naturally, the biggest concern here is budget. What makes sense for your organization financially?
Many people will go as lone representatives for their organization.
Very often, Holacracy Providers offer a discounted rate starting at groups of 3 or more people, so you will regularly see 3 people from each organization at these trainings.
Furthermore, sometimes a company with a larger training budget will ask for a Certified Holacracy Coach to come to them to educate much of their staff all at once (or at least the leadership team and/or upper management).
Management Team or Operations?
However, there’s a big difference between who usually goes and who would benefit most from going.
What we see most often is that a company will send a handful of their highest management team. This makes sense, as these individuals usually have the biggest areas of responsibility, the most flexible schedules, and the most need to learn new systems in order to efficiently prepare their teams.
Unfortunately, this approach can often get things started off on the wrong foot.
When implementing something like Holacracy – a system where you need to understand all the rules in order to properly diminish traditional power hierarchies – starting off by teaching the rules only to those with the most power in the hierarchy can create a snowball effect.
Indeed, by having the most training, those individuals know how to best use the system to their advantage and often underestimate how little everyone else understands. This can cause an immediate power imbalance even in the new structure.
However, doing the reverse of this and giving the training first to all frontline employees is not logical for most organizations. Schedules, productivity needs, and much higher costs all prevent most organizations from committing too many people to a training program.
So how do you resolve this?
The One-to-One Approach
An easy solution is using a one-to-one approach. In simple terms, this means that for every manager/leader you send to training, you send a frontline employee along with them.
This has a variety of potential benefits.
A different perspective. Having someone there with a radically different position and scope of responsibility means they will hear and process the information differently. They will see different benefits and concerns.
More positive influence. Let’s face it, not all those with a “Leader” title are true leaders with the respect of others in the organization. Depending on their reputation in the organization, if someone in a managerial position says, “This new system is good and we should do it.”, employees might be skeptical. It might be good for management and bad for everyone else as far as they know. However, if your trusted peer tells you, “No, really. It’s a good system and we should do it.”, it’s a different story.
Clarity and accountability. With any workshop, especially one as lengthy and intense as Holacracy Practitioner Training, there are bound to be misunderstandings. These misunderstandings can then lead to problems during implementation when brought back to the organization. Having a second person there who has a radically different stake in the company can help alleviate this. Not only will the other perspective help clear up true misunderstandings, but it will also give a voice to prevent intentional abuses of lack of clarity in the rules.
What If You Can Only Afford to Send One Person?
Granted, even the one-to-one option isn’t feasible sometimes. So if you have a very limited pool of resources with which to send people, who should you prioritize?
Above all else, send the person(s) who will be ultimately responsible for the implementation.
If you plan to have an HR Business Partner take charge of the implementation, send them.
If the CEO is making the decision to transition to Holacracy and they will be the main communicator to the company, they should go as well.
Will you have a team of people whose jobs are implementing the change? Everyone on that team needs to go.
In short, if someone is going to be responsible for the task, they need to be given all the tools available to succeed.
They need to understand things better than anyone else to plan an implementation effectively, accurately answer questions, and help get others on the same page.
What to Look For in a Training Program
Unlike the search for a Holacracy Coach, there isn’t much to consider when choosing a Practitioner Training.
Indeed, the content is generally quite uniform across different providers.
There is little difference between types of training aside from cost, language, and format (such as whether it is remote or in-person).
That being said, there are still some questions you should ask when looking for prospective providers.
Will the Training Rely on a Specific Piece of Software?
First, does the training rely on a specific piece of software? Do you currently use or plan to use that software?
For example, when teaching the rules of Holacracy, HolacracyOne will teach you specifically using GlassFrog, the tool they built themselves for Holacracy practice.
However, if your organization doesn’t plan to use GlassFrog, these portions of the training will not only be less useful, they may even create further confusion.
For example, if you plan to co-create your own constitution inspired by but not strictly following Holacracy, a Practitioner Training will be beneficial to deeply understand all the rules and possibilities inside the Holacracy Constitution, but Glassfrog may not allow you to implement all your custom company habits and rituals.
Thus, you can ask a provider if they are willing to use a different piece of software, such as Holaspirit.
If you are looking for a robust but flexible tool to implement Holacracy, several of our Holaspirit Partners are licensed to provide Holacracy Practitioner Training.
How Closely Will You Follow the Holacracy Constitution?
Second, is how concretely you plan to use Holacracy?
Is your focus Agile in general or Holacracy specifically?
If you want to use the latest version of Holacracy, by-the-book, and fully utilize the rules as they currently are, then you don’t need to worry about a thing.
However, if you know you only plan on using pieces of Holacracy or want to customize some of it for your organization, then the initial training may take that into account.
Ask your potential providers if they are willing to tailor the content to your needs.
Regardless of who provides your training and where it takes place, this is the first step toward a long and challenging journey.
If you start off on the right foot, that journey will be massively rewarding.
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