What is a Holacracy?
Holacracy is a term derived from two words holons and democracy, first used by Arthur Koestler in the book The Ghost in the Machine. Holacracy is a system of governance that is based on a flat organizational structure. Holacracy eliminates the need for a centralized power structure and takes that power and distributes it to the employees.
More like a democracy. In a democracy the primary document that holds people accountable whether it be the prime minister, is a set of statutes declared in set of rules that make up the constitution. This constitution is the document that becomes binding on every individual who is part of that system to abide to. Every individual is held accountable by the same rules in the document. Individuals may have distinct roles to fulfill within the system but each and every one is held accountable by the same rules of the game. This set of rules distributes power across all employees. Another key feature of this structure is the absence of detailed job descriptions. Every individual has a role they are hired to fulfill. It may be the role of a social media marketer, or a researcher. Elimination of job descriptions leads to reduced redundancy and the traditional problems of ownership of responsibilities based on functional or departmental jurisdictions. The result of which is lean methodology of operations.
Agility is another byproduct of this structure. Autonomy to every employee eliminates the need for management approvals that reduce agility thereby improving responsiveness. A visual depiction of the two structures would help to understand how this is possible.
In addition to the above, functioning holacracy organizations demonstrate higher flexibility to changing conditions in the business landscape, more agility in implementation, free flow of communication when compared to a pyramid structure where communication flow happens top down. The absence of detailed job descriptions and a focus on roles creates a purpose driven workforce.
It could be helpful to shed more light as to why this is the case. Two people having similar responsibilities can exist simultaneously in various parts in a hierarchy. This may create redundancy. A Holarctic structure would eliminate this need. In a holacracy a team much like a sub-circle within the super-circle would exist to provide related skills or expertise to the organization as and when the need arises thus eliminating overlap and instilling the concept of LEAN.
A common misconception about holacracy and the visual depiction of the organization structure as a circle is that there is no structure however, this is not the case. In fact a holacracy has more clearly defined structure than a hierarchy. This happens because of clearly defined roles. The filler of the role automatically becomes accountable and everybody knows who to go to get certain tasks done.
Bolder brings this concept to its organizational structure. While Bolder cannot be fully classified as a holacracy, it does take some key features of this structure. For example, Bolder hires talent not to fulfill job descriptions but to fulfill roles. A concept we just described earlier as an important feature within a holacracy.
If you would like to learn more about Holacracy and see which other organizations are using it, you can check the following LINK .
A webinar by the creator, Brian Robertson of this organizational design is also available at and can add to your understanding of this concept in practice.