#Holacracy introduction by Brian Robertson in quotes

Brian Roberston introduced Holacracy in a Holacracy webinar. I watched the webinar and used his quotes to give you an idea of what holacracy is all about. Enjoy!

Resistance to change

“Our companies are built to resist change, especially when it comes from one person”.

“How do we build an organisation where anything sensed by anyone anywhere in the company can be rapidly processed without all the typical obstacles.”


“How does power works in the organisation and how do we structure and scale our organisation?”


“When you have to run things up the management hierarchy to get change, change slows down.”

Autonomy and self-organisation

“Autonomy and self-organisation in each level of the organisation.”

An idea  based on the cells in our body that make up our organs, but each cell is autonomous and there is no CEO cell, each cell has it’s own task and will adapt when needed. 


“There is more structure in a company doing holacracy  then in a company doing management hierarchy. The structure evolves. Not an imposed top-down design from a CEO. So more structure not less. Just an emergent and more dynamic structure that is changing constantly. “

The holacracy constitution


“The holacracy constitution defines a governance process you can use to structure your organisation, write better software, improve your services, hire and fire people, rewarding people, define roles, do budgeting or marketing, whatever you do in your organisation. It does not tell you how to achieve this. It is a meta-system. It is generic and you can customise it.”


“You have the authority unless it is constrained explicitly in the constitution. Do anything to get your job done. The goal is to define what you cannot do, so you know what you can do.”


“Define small, clear roles with clear power.”

“You can volunteer for any role and fulfill multiple roles in the organisation.”

“To serve your role, you have the full authority to make any decision or take any action, as long as there is no rule against it.” 

“There is an optimisation process to fit people and roles.” This means that roles evolve and that somebody can also be taken away her/his role.”


“Clarify boundaries, so everyone knows what freedom they really have.”


“This clarity is not defined in advance, top-down. Real empowerment also requires  a process to evolve the rules and boundaries. They have to evolve and not be imposed in advance.”

“It is an evolutionary system, not a static definition, that will happen all up-front.”

In the beginning the role description can be almost blank but gradually they will evolve. 

Governance process

“Add a governance process to every team. We are not doing that once from a committee at the top.”

“Every circle (team) in the organisation is like an organ in the body of the organisation. Every cell has autonomy but the organ is there to integrate the cells. Every single person filling a role in that circle is invited to show up and propose any changing of  that structure of the circle.”

“In consensus everybody has to feel good about the change personally.”

“It is not about your personal feelings, whether you like it or not.”

This governance meeting takes place at least each month and ecah role in that circle can come up and challenge any role, constraint, boundary in the constitution of that circle to make the responsibilities more clear or to adapt them. You don’t need permission or consensus of everybody in the circle. Just act unless there is a rule against it. If somebody wants change then this change will take place by default, unless somebody can argue that it will harm his/her responsibilities or get in the way of his or her work. If somebody does not follow the rules, you can discuss this also in a governance meeting.

“In the governance meetings there is a referee, a sort of facilitator whose job it is to hold to the rules.”

“But be aware of over-design.”

Tension-driven iteration

“Tension drives (micro)changes so the design is emergent. It is driven from a lot of human actions, not from any human design.”

“Any tension you feel between what is and what could be. We might get excited about it and call it an opportunity or become frustrated and call it a problem.” 

“The goal of holacracy is to make sure that any tension has somewhere to go and get rapidly processed in a meaningful change.”

“People cannot tell other people what to do.”

“It is a living, evolving system, driven by local actions.”


“It is like parenting. You do not use your child as an extension of yourself, but raise a child that is capable of outlasting you, live his own life and makes her own calls. The same is true in business. They want to build a company that outlives them.”

Structure and culture

“Structure eats culture for dinner.”  Holacracy is not about a cultural change but it is a structural change. It works on a lower level. It is only enabling a possible cultural change.

“If you have a highly toxic culture, it is going to make any change hard, including Holacracy.” 

“If you have the best strategy and your organisational culture doe snot supports it, you are kind of screwed . On the other hand if you change your culture it opens opportunities for your strategy.” 

“There are cultures that better leverage the power structure of Holalcracy.”

Generic approach

“Holacracy is not answering all your questions, it is trying to make sure you can answer all these questions. That is what it makes it generic. It gives you the process to evolve the questions. It makes it easier to change policies in your organisation, since the rules are crystal clear.” Versus implicit rules in a hierarchic organisation.

“The holacracy constitution allows you to introduce change wherever you want in the company, it does not tell you which change is good or bad.”

Management and Holacracy

“The management functions are not gone in Holacracy. They are broken up differently and they can change.”

“It is practical and useful to give everybody a voice in your organisation. Holacracy is a purpose driven system, not a people driven system.”

“Holacracy protects the company from the ego of the CEO and manager. But it gives you as CEO and manager more control to have good results with the company. It does not diminish a manager’s ability to use their expertise to help guide the organisation. It increases everyone else’s ability to do this as well. It is not about decreasing power from the CEO, it is about increasing power for anyone else. The end of the day we all have the power to use the best wisdom and judgement to guide the organisation to its and purpose.”

“Salaries are not tied to roles but skills people have. Some skills are more valuable for the organisation then others.”

~ Brian Roberston in Holacracy webinar


Author: hadriansagilewall


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