New Ways of Organising: Holacracy

We run on Holacracy. In January 2019 Nightnurse Images adopted a new organisational structure. It has been a steep learning process, that has brought a lot of meaningful outcomes to the company. In this article we present to you the concept of Holacracy and our reasons for switching to Holacracy.

So, what is Holacracy and how does it work?

Holacracy is a holistic organisational management system that focuses on, in a purposeful manner, optimizing a companies’ flexibility and productivity. It is based on the notion that companies should be sensing their organisation from the bottom-up: through the employees rather than top-down, through the management, in order to be innovative and progressive.

So how does that happen? Holacracy realizes that one of the skills we human beings are best at, is sensing when something is not as good as it could be. We sense – and often express – when circumstances from every aspect of our lives could be better. This sensation of a potential between a current reality and an improved state has a name in Holacracy: it is simply called a tension. And whereas tensions in most other contexts have a negative connotation, in Holacracy they are the driver that initiates every improvement. How that? Holacracy offers a clear pathway to every individual working in the system, to address and process tensions and improve the whole.

It functions on a defined set of rules and roles that individuals within the system comply with in order to contribute purposefully to growth of the larger system (the organisation). The system takes traditional organisational hierarchy and changes it with the intention to help nudge employees to self-organize and take bigger responsibility for own and organisational objectives. 

The fundamental rules of the system are written in the ‘Holacracy Constitution‘, which is adopted by the company when ratified by the company CEO(s). With this act they show that they now distribute their collected authority to everyone in the company. 

Each individual in the company gets assigned to undertake one or more roles within the organisation. Each role has activities and accountabilities assigned to it. It is now each role’s responsibility to process their tasks and sustain their responsibilities. Within their own sphere, roles do not need to seek permission to make decisions or take action, unless it violates the authority of other roles. 

Roles are grouped into circles. Roles within the same circles work towards a defined common purpose (e.g. roles in an ‘Outreach’ circle all work on “Maximum Visibility” for the company). All circles generally work together in advancing the company, based on a common purpose. 

A circle’s work is structured through two types of meetings:
(1) Governance Meetings
These meetings are aimed at resolving tensions at an organisational level, meaning they work on the organisation.
(2) Tactical Meetings
These meetings target tension at operational level, which means working in the organisation.

Why did Nightnurse Images choose to adopt Holacracy?

Nightnurse Images actively chose the switch to Holacracy in order to encourage employees to take greater ownership of the company and participate in developing the company’s strategy and structure. We consider this to be essential for a young company in a high paced  industry, like Nightnurse Images, to grow sustainably from the inside out. This is aided by the Holacracy system because management of everyday matters is distributed onto multiple roles instead of individual managers. 

At the time before switching to Holacracy the company had grown into a size that necessitated the adoption of a new management system, in order to push the company’s potential. This was indicated by some work processes that had become ineffective and had started to work against the company’s development.
The decision to adopt Holacracy was taken after the three Nightnurse Images founders – and former CEO’s – had participated in a Practitioner Training by Holacracy founder Brian Robertson. This experience gave them confidence to hand over the authority to the employees of Nightnurse Images as a necessary course of action to facilitate capabilities and further knowledge that is existing within the company’s pool of talent.

Nightnurse Images officially adopted Holacracy in January 2019. It has been a process with a steep learning curve, but the work put into adopting the system has already shown positive effects on the company.

Read more about the positive effects in our next blog post update about Holacracy.

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