Holocracy: what is it all about?

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Robert Maurer
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Holocracy: what is it all about?

The oclocratic system was first developed at Ternary Software, a computer company in Exton, USA

Last update: May 19, 2019

Holocracy is an organizational system in which authority and decision-making processes occur horizontally. Therefore, there is no hierarchy in which responsibility and power are distributed.

While this system may seem strange and anarchic, it has already been adopted by some organizations in Australia, Germany, the United States, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.



Origins of holocracy

The oclocratic system was first developed at Ternary Software, a computer company from Exton, United States. Its founder was Ternary Brian Robertson, who in 2007 put into practice the first ideas of an innovative organization system.

In 2010, the Holocracy Constitution was created. It establishes the principles and practices to be followed which form the basis of holocracy. It therefore serves as a support guide for all those companies that want to establish their own organization chart following this idea.

Although Robertson was the first to use it, the term oclocracy derives from the word holarchy, coined by Arthur Koestler. In his book The Phantom Inside the Machine, published in 1967, he discusses the idea of ​​an organization made up of holons.

These are self-contained units that depend on their own group. A serious holocracy, in essence, is a set of self-regulating units, but that work independently.

Novelties incorporated by the holocracy

Holocracy was born, in essence, as a system that tries to oppose the classic corporate hierarchy. In this sense, he wants to put aside the figure of the boss to establish a theoretically more egalitarian and efficient organization.



Organizational differences

One of the main organizational differences of the company through the creation of a holocracy is the elimination of a structure in which every employee is placed in a permanent position. The functions of each worker would no longer be described in an organization chart.

Overall, holocracy proposes a structure in which each employee can perform multiple functions within the company. At the same time, he can be part of several teams at the same time and his tasks can be continuously updated to adapt to the needs of each group.

According to this fundamental idea, the company can use the best skills of each employee, while also giving them greater freedom to make decisions.

Differences of authority

In the more traditional organizational model, the structure of the company is little or not at all dynamic. Orders always come from the highest spheres and must be carried out by those at the lowest levels of the organization chart.

However, holocracy continually tries to change the structure of the company so that each work team has the authority to organize itself in the best way to achieve the goal.

Holocracy wants to eliminate the authoritarian figure of the leader.

Differences in the philosophy of the company

One of the main aspects of the holocratic system is that all its members, including the CEO or the CEO, must follow clearly defined rules. This philosophy must not follow clarifications that come by authority.

The fundamental idea is that there is total transparency in the rules, so that the impact of company policy within the work team's activities is reduced. Furthermore, the decision-making process will depend less on people in positions of authority.


The joint government of the holocracy

In a company that practices holocracy, work is distributed in roles that are updated frequently. So, employees have full autonomy to decide how to develop their functions unless the preference hurts colleagues.


On the other hand, the holocracy must dispose of a set of periodic meetings during which all the roles of the organizational circle can intervene to review and adapt their duties.

With these meetings it will be possible to constantly interact between one group and another, facilitating effective communication between work teams sharing members. These members can play the role of leader, secretary or representative based on the role required by each group.

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