Have you been running into this word, “holacracy” and are wondering what the heck it actually is? Well, this article…

Have you been running into this word, “holacracy” and are wondering what the heck it actually is? Well, this article is a fairly good overview of the basic ideas. 

“Holacracy is closer to what political scientists call epistemic democracy, where decisions are based more on persuasion and expertise than majority rule. There’s lots (and lots) of discussions in holacracy, but elected individuals are given permission to act how they please until they screw up.”

In case you hadn’t heard, the amazingly innovative folks at Zappos are in the midst of turning their company into a holacracy this year. I don’t have a lot of heroes in the corporate world, but I guess I would have to say that Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh gets about as close as I go. Earlier this year, I was at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco and heard him spell out his vision for how Zappos connects with downtown Las Vegas, where they are headquartered. Here’s a link to his talk, in case you’re interested. This guy’s way ahead of the curve: 

Zappos and Downtown Project: Tony Hsieh

Several years ago, I tried to implement something very close to what holacracy is in my own firm. In the end, it proved just too hard and we settled on a modified, highly flexible hierarchy. I actually spoke with Brian Robertson (the founder of this management approach) about the holacracy approach back then, but he was still getting started, and I decided to forge my own path. In hindsight, it would have been great to have benefited from the wisdom they were then catalyzing. 

Here’s their website: http://holacracy.org/

Critics are inevitable when it comes to new approaches like this, and just last week, The Economist gave what I thought was a fairly weak critique. Yep, management fads come ago, and yep, this approach won’t work for every firm: 


I’ve no idea whether holacracy truly is a real breakthrough in management science, but I think it’s headed in the right directions. That’s why I’m sharing this with you. I think it’s worth understanding better.

P.S. Thanks to a ping from Thomas Beckett over on Twitter, I’ve just learned about Sociocracy, which is a much older articulation of these ideas:


The Vox article was brought to you via a tweet I saw by Jeffrey J Davis 

#holacracy   #management   #zappos  

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