At Fronteer, we became a holacratic organisation in 2016. Since then, we have experienced its beauty and its pitfalls. We recently made a step change and decided to turn holacracy’s weaknesses into something new and wonderful - whilst keeping its strong principles intact. After 6 years we decided to upgrade holacracy and created H20 - in order to let our organisation flow (again).
For those of you who don’t know what holacracy is: holacracy is a system for self-organisation based on a set of principles. The main difference with other organisations is its hierarchy of purposes and the roles people have within circles.
'There is no formal hierarchy of people, a.k.a there are no bosses.'
Do you have too many questions now? Please search for a holacracy introduction online.
When we started this new way of working it was clear from the outset that we were in for a wild ride. We had no more old-school meetings, circles instead of bosses and tensions instead of agendas. For me personally it was refreshing. I turned into a cool coworker instead of being a top-down managing partner, YAY! We learned by just doing it. We quickly accepted holacracy as a new ‘operating system’, onboarded, got trained, used it and kept it alive - and kicking - all those years.
However, it was not all great. We needed a fresh take after six years, since all positives had a downside and led to internal confusion, too many roles and a lack of collaboration internally. Basically, the model became our master, instead of the other way around. We were not even able to explain properly why we used the system for structuring and governing our work. As a shareholder of the company I wondered how we ended up there.
At our last bi-annual-temporary-office-abroad-off-site we had a breakthrough. We finally created a new and updated operating system and called it Holacracy 2.0. Basically we took back control and hacked our own system.It is meant to unleash our own and our client’s creativity, guided
by a clear purpose.
We redesigned holacracy’s system around three key principles and created three new tools for the new OS. We kept Holacracy’s main parts intact, but simply made it more 2022 and more Fronteer.
H20 - Holacracy 2.0's three top principles are:
Space for Me (Autonomy)
We all have our own personal drives and need room to develop our own personalities. This is the foundation of holacracy and we will make this cornerstone element even stronger. Individual choices will determine Fronteer’s future even more so than before.
One Mission (Purpose)
We have a clear purpose as an organisation and all efforts add up to this. With our recently developed ethical compass we strengthened our mission for positive impact. The first results are there: we will be saying goodbye to at least one long-standing client. Purpose-driven as a rule, because principles don’t count until they cost you something.
Efficient Backbone (Mastery)
We always seek to improve and reduce inefficiencies and waste - in order to have more time to create. The tactical-style way of working (do it if you don’t already) will become even more prominent in all our interactions internally and externally.
Next to these principles we have designed three cool new tools. Very much work in progress but we are excited to start testing them.
Holacracy is great for individualism but less so for teamwork. To counter that we will design easy co-creation tools to quickly explore the wealth and value of new ideas with a diverse team of people. Rather than letting people drive their own ‘ferrari’ by themselves, we will invite people to create mission teams. From fast cars to fast trains.
Not everybody is a holacracy master - it can be overwhelming. From now on, we will strive to make people H20 masters so they can truly unleash their own potential and become trainers themselves in the end. All will become professionals, not just a few of us which is currently the case.
Holacracy can turn work into candy boxes - when and where to stop? We will create a simple tool to manage and balance roles, work and hours. We will refrain people from drowning in roles and forcing them to make difficult decisions by themselves. We will make it transparent and guide them.
These might seem small changes to some but for sure this will take another couple of years to make this the new reality.