January 5, 2017 in Culture

Holacracy is yet another buzzword in technology. The idea is that the people best equipped to make decisions about work are the ones doing the work–not managers. Holacracy gives that power to the right people, within a pretty rigid structure of meetings and processes.

There’s a lot of controversy around it, of course. When Zappos’ CEO offered severance for employees not on board with the system, 6% of the company took it because of holacracy. Like every other type of work, it’s not right for everyone or every company.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect when we transitioned a year ago. Holacracy has a steep learning curve, and learning to make decisions together took effort. And, you know, we have a business to run.

But, a year later, it’s safe to say the move was the right one. And not just for us. For our clients as well.

Holacracy Improves Software Development

Zappos adopted holacracy a few years ago, so many people associate it with Tony Hsieh. In reality, a developer created holacracy. Brian Robertson conquered software development early in life, but he felt stunted by management decisions and bureaucracy. Self-management for himself and his employees was the goal when he started his own development firm.

During that time, though, Robertson learned that culture can’t solve all business challenges, and many flat structures didn’t have the processes in place to run efficiently. Over the years, he developed holacracy to meet those needs.

Because the system was developed at a software company, it is uniquely designed for the work we do at Centresource. Holacracy works well with agile development, which we use in a modified way to tackle complicated projects.

In general, the decisions you make are only as good as the information you have. Holacracy empowers our team (and our clients) to see all of the information, instead of only what a manager deems necessary. This allows our developers and clients to make better decisions and build software more efficiently.

Holacracy Improves Client Experience

One criticism of holacracy is that it is self-focused–inward, instead of customer-centric. It’s true that we spend a lot of time thinking about how our business runs, and that was especially true during the learning phase.

But, we’ve also realized that holacracy has made us all better business owners and consultants.

Everyone at Centresource is personally invested in and responsible for their work and client success. Over time, we’ve developed better intuition about what could help our clients. Developers don’t think in a silo of code. They also think about the best solutions for the business problems facing clients.

We build software. But, we actually strive to be a business partner with our clients. What’s the difference? We use technology to solve business problems like driving revenue, conversion, and operational efficiency. In the last year, we’ve discovered that holacracy empowers our team to more efficiently serve our customers in these efforts.

Holacracy As A Tool–Not A Golden Ticket

Some people see holacracy as a “no authority” model, but that’s simply not true. Rather, holacracy is “distributed authority.” Everyone is charged with responsibility for meeting client needs. More importantly, they’re empowered to do so without red tape.

We see holacracy as an operating system. What started as a quest for individual autonomy has actually become the most valuable way we can serve our clients. If it ever stops being valuable for the partners we work with, we have the authority to change the system.