What if Government Embraced Holacracy?

Holacracy is not a lack of structure; it is a new way of structure that allows organizations to be more agile and to more rapidly adapt to change.

by , / October 9, 2015

Every day we are presented with new headlines that touch on the future of work and how things like robots, artificial intelligence and millennials will impact or disrupt industries. In most of these articles, the common denominator ushering in change is technology. But while technology itself can catalyze and accelerate changes in the workplace, it is not the only thing.

Often neglected are things like collective behavior, culture, management and leadership — all of which make up a workplace’s organizational structure. And interestingly enough, they are beginning to see major disruptions as well.

The traditional hierarchical organization structure cannot keep pace in the knowledge age. That is why we see young organizations disrupting large and established organizations at an accelerating frequency. For example, only 12 percent of Fortune 500 Companies from 1955 still remain on the list today. That is no coincidence.  

Traditional hierarchical organizations fail to adapt and grow because politics and bureaucracy get in the way. They rely on strong leadership and flawless insight from the top down; the people making important decisions are often completely removed from the actual problem. This leads to ideas that sound good in theory but have no real-world value.

There also is constant pressure to do more with less and keep up with the rapid pace of change. When organizations structure themselves around power and authority, employees do their best to fulfill the organization's mission, but they instead spend all their time reacting to the environment.

It's not difficult to see why the traditional organizational structure is starting to break down, but what exists now does not have to be the reality. And it's driving organizations to look for new ways to be innovative — that's where Holacracy comes into play.

Our story is broken up into five primary sections:

Holacracy 101: An Overview // This section shares the top three ways Holacracy is different from the traditional hierarchical structure, and gives detailed information about roles, circles and governance process.

Holacracy at Zappos // Holacracy has allowed Zappos, an online shoe and clothing shop, to stay agile and innovative in the midst of rapid growth.

Holacracy in Government // Using Holacracy in the public sector is still relatively unexplored, but one government agency is leading the charge.

Holacracy Resources // Check out these resources for additional information on Holacracy.

Final Thoughts // Could giving Holacracy a try change the way your organization operates for the next 100 years?

 

Dustin Haisler Chief Innovation Officer, e.Republic Inc.

Dustin Haisler is the Chief Innovation Officer of Government Technology's parent company e.Republic. Previously the finance director and later CIO for Manor, Texas, a small city outside Austin, Haisler quickly built a track record and reputation as an early innovator in civic tech. As Chief Innovation Officer, Haisler has a strategic role to help shape the company’s products, services and future direction. Primarily, he leads e.Republic Labs, a market connector created as an ecosystem to educate, accelerate and ultimately scale technology innovation within the public sector. Read his full bio.

Tim Howell Contributing Writer

Tim Howell is a former government technology and innovation guru for multiple government agencies across the state of Texas. His leadership and tech savvy quickly landed him at the bleeding edge of the public-sector market. Recently, he has taken his years of experience and success and founded made4gov.  By rethinking government content and promoting healthy discussions, he helps government agencies adapt to new technologies and meet the growing demands of citizens. Tim is also the author of the Innovation PACT, The No-Nonsense Guide to Sustainable Innovation. You can download the first section of Tim’s new book at http://www.innovationpact.com/free.