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Filtering by Category: OrgBuilders Events

"Holacracy allows me to treat people as adults"

Pieter Wijkstra

On Monday, engineers from the City of Amsterdam were offered a unique opportunity to learn from Michael DeAngelo, who leads the Holacracy experiment at Washington Technology Solutions. WaTech is the shared service center for the state of Washington, home to tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing, which makes it one of the world’s most important tech hubs.

Attracting talent in these places means making opportunities stand out against some of the most attractive and well-paid jobs of today. Exactly this challenge drove Michael, deputy director, to look for ways in which WaTech could turn public service work an equal alternative. Research on career attractiveness showed that for ±80% of today’s workforce autonomy was an important driver in choosing an employer.

At the same time, Michael learned about Holacracy from a local tech start-up and, although the ‘remember me’ post-it sat on his computer for over a month, he instantly felt it could allow him to ‘organize autonomy’ at WaTech. After several months of piloting with one team, WaTech started an experiment with 150 participants and support from Harvard University to measure the impact of a control group.

Michael showed us WaTech's current governance, which is open to the public ( link )

Michael showed us WaTech's current governance, which is open to the public (link)

At this moment, even though the quantitative data is still lacking, WaTech has already decided to entirely approve Holacracy as an equivalent to the management hierarchy, meaning any team is free to use Holacracy or not. The impact WaTech was able to measure is mainly operational: decision speed went from 20 down to 2 minutes. On the governance side, surveys show employees experience higher empowerment (up from 60% to 90%) and indicate a higher intent to stay. It’s too early to say whether the latter holds true in practice, but it’s definitely a promising step up.

From his experience Michael was able to share many challenges and conclusions, the most insightful ones being:

Did all teams make a successful power shift? “Some did not: the key enabler here is the type of leadership practiced by the (former) manager, more so than the age.”

Did Holacracy make you more efficient? “For two circles it was decided not to hire generalists after managers left the company. One circle indicated they could do without and rather hire a specialist to add specific skills. The other circle still has a vacancy…” and “Before implementing Holacracy, I spent 80% of my time on ‘other’ stuff that required my manager input, now I spend 80% on content related material.”

Does Holacracy take extra time? “Technically, it does: Operational meetings replaced our regular meetings, so Governance is extra. At first, we spent considerable time here, but one year on governance is no issue anymore: we just do it.”

Do you find it harder to speak about careers (and underperformance) with employees? “Holacracy allows me to treat people like adults.”


Michael showed a graph that clearly indicated almost all WaTech teams experienced challenges at some point, but 'over time they all managed to climb out again'.

Michael showed a graph that clearly indicated almost all WaTech teams experienced challenges at some point, but 'over time they all managed to climb out again'.

Taster Workshop in Amsterdam

Pieter Wijkstra

On January 27th, we held the first Holacracy Taster event of the year. The venue was Loetje aan 't IJ in Amsterdam which has become the standard venue for these events: reachable both by car and ferry from Central Station. Overlooking the port, the newly developed areas and all the way back to the old city, it's simply an inspiring location in itself. 

The group consisted of professionals from various backgrounds: a safety and quality manager, a CEO of a startup, an organizational consultant, strategists and web developers - all interested in introducing Holacracy to their companies or colleagues. 


Koen gave an introductory presentation on Holacracy and self-organization and gave all participants the opportunity to express their questions, remarks and ideas about the matter upfront. The group was then split into two smaller groups, each of which was given the assignment to build a city using Lego. Through Tactical and Governance meetings the groups experienced the basics of collaboration in a Holacracy.

When the construction had completed, there was a joint discussion and a Question and Answer session on Holacracy itself and on possible implementation processes for organizations. Finally, there were of course drinks at the bar for the final reflections.  


Compensation within Holacracy

Pieter Wijkstra

So you've adopted the Constitution, defined circles, hold regular Governance Meetings, Tactical Meetings etc. The whole shabam... The old, static, job profiles and employee handbooks are a thing from the past which has been replaced by this awesome system that allows the organization to be shaped from within. Cool, you're all set to go!

But then someone realises the old compensation system might be due for an overhaul too. Because,  without job profiles, how are you going to establish salaries and secondary benefits? Does this apply to new hires, or is everyone's salary now up for review? Is that even allowed? And are we going to be as transparent about salaries as Holacracy is on the Organization itself? 


Above were the topics for a lively Discussion hosted by OrganizationBuilders for the client community, of which 6 different companies were present. The basic Holacracy system defines nothing related to compensation and different companies have adopted different strategies to deal with compensation in a new (and ever evolving) reality.

Through several cases, Koen Veltman presented various options implemented elsewhere, the issues they resolved and the questions they presented. Amongst these were the add-ons (Apps) that ave been proposed to support decision making in a Holacratic organization, the ARCA Compensation App and the Badge Based Compensation App, but also alternatives developed and practiced within other Holacratic Organizations. 

What followed was a lively discussion, to which different participants shared different insights, thougts and experiences. Transparency was an important item: one company did indeed give maximum transparency on compensation, but only after a aligning this through an ingenious internal alignment system. One participant was in the process of validating the legal situation of the new job profiles, both to the Company and the Employee. An interesting direction was the idea that equal salaries for everyone would be a great solution, to which several examples followed of (not necessarily Holacratic) organizations where at least bonusses and profit sharing was fully equal amongst all employees. 

Wondering about compensation in relation to your Holacratic Organization, then feel free to reach out to OrganizationBuilders via the Contact page.