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Paweł Jędrzejewski
27.09.2018 | 5 mins read

Holacracy: A few months later

This post is a follow-up to the article I wrote in March. We thought it would be interesting for you to read about the effects of adopting Holacracy and taking a direction towards becoming a Teal organization. Spoiler: No, the company has not collapsed without the managers. 🙂

I am writing this as an ex-boss perspective and in the role of Holacracy Adoption Lead. Be sure we have another post coming with the perspectives of ex-employees.

It has been a fantastic period of growth for us as individuals and also as a company. I can feel the positive effects of the principles standing behind Holacracy & Teal even outside of work.

When it comes to our business results, despite significant investments of our time and money into the transformation & new products, our business continued to grow. Our revenue has double-digit growth compared to the previous quarter and it does not seem that we are about to experience a slowdown. Of course, we are still relatively small when it comes to the commercial part of Sylius but we are more than satisfied with our results.

Especially if we consider that we are not a team of experienced serial entrepreneurs and our oldest team members are 26.

Adoption Process

You can read about our adoption process in the first blog post about Holacracy. On the 13th of March, we have ratified the constitution after the first Workshops with Ewa Bocian from dwarfs & Giants.

The learning process was built around practice, so after the initial mapping of the structure we just started organizing the first Tactical (get stuff done) & Governance (work on the structure and roles) meetings for our single circle. Ewa was filling the role of Facilitator during the first meetings and we were heavily relying on the “time-outs”, which allowed us to get out of the process and clarify some questions or review the rules.

Very soon we have created the first sub-circles and started mapping our work into more granular roles & accountabilities. We have elected our internal Facilitators and they have taken over the process together with Secretaries. Contrary to my expectation, we had no issues with finding Facilitators in our team. We have five people in that role right now and they are doing great!

Initially, I could not get myself elected in any of the new circles because of the “ex-boss” risk factor but now I am facilitating one circle and things seem to be smooth. 🙂

We have also performed one retrospective session using FunRetro, which helped us to highlight the things that went well and areas to improve. The meeting’s results were concrete next actions and projects that we have tackled next. For example, doing presentations about Getting Things Done & Self-Management.

Self-Management

Before Holacracy, I felt like I was giving a lot of freedom on how to execute projects but I was calling all the shots regarding which actions should be done. Of course, everyone could just talk to me and I’ve been gathering feedback before most of the decisions, but it was nowhere near the level of freedom that I see right now. I’m still making a lot of calls, including the most important ones like renting a new office. However, the decision-making process has been heavily distributed, not delegated. That’s a critical difference.

Information Transparency

All confidential information, including our revenues, expenses, pricing, customer database, and contracts has been made available to all team members. What is more, only yesterday we finally came to the point of internally publishing our compensation. Although there have never been any objections to full transparency, we needed some time to prepare for this moment, preventing all potential tensions before we open the book. 🙂

Why is it important? Information is power, so why not make everyone powerful? Don’t be the CEO who complains about the need to make all the tough decisions and hoarding the information to yourself.

I had a lot of fears and doubts – I was worried about the reaction of the team about our good and bad metrics or about the prices we charge to customers but they have been nothing but supportive.

Evolutionary Purpose

The second Teal break-through that Holacracy helps you to embrace is Evolutionary Purpose. This means building the organization for a higher purpose, the ultimate goal that the world needs. And believe me, it is not a boring mission & vision statement. It is an anchor for all decisions & roles. In Holacracy, each role or circle has its clearly defined purpose, which needs to support & contribute to the purpose of the organization.

It became much more clear to me where we want to go, even though I can’t predict everything that will happen. The calling of the organization is not a fixed thing, it’s something that is evolving with us and we constantly explore what it is.

Whenever we want to tackle a new project or initiative, we can ask ourselves – how it contributes to the purpose. This is a critical input to the decision-making process when I no longer do “All Hands Meeting” during which I set the direction of the company on specific projects and tasks…

The clarity on why a specific role exists is very inspiring and motivating to fulfill this role with passion and courage.

Ex-Boss Perspective

In our pre-adoption individual interviews, 3 members of the team (including me) were asked: “How would you describe the organization?”. The answer of Magda & Łukasz was exactly the same: “A team with Paweł as a coach”, while mine was “Like a high-speed train where I’m the conductor”. I was really stressed and overwhelmed with the number of things we were doing.

With a great relief, I can say that my answer would be much different now. What is more, everyone is a Coach now. 🙂

The team was very supportive in stopping any managerial actions of mine. While I believe I have auto-facilitated myself a lot, their honest feedback and sticking to the principles of Holacracy has been a great help.

Old & New Challenges

When it comes to my role in the organization, there are things that I was doing and I still do. I fill the roles of Financial & Legal Guardian but I’m not the only one who works on the legal stuff. I just observe the activity of the organization and highlight legal issues or provide budget advice but avoid making all financial decisions.

Maintaining trust is a new challenge. As any other organization, we still have problems to solve. Every day brings a new challenge and I feel like my role is to maintain the trust as a cornerstone of our culture. Human intuition very often calls for more control when issues arise and I used to be the person making the decisions when these pop up. Being a role-model for Holacracy is an important part of the ex-boss to play.

Presenting a new (Teal) perspective on the old issues or new problems is also an important thing I try to do every day.

I still work a lot on the organization itself, by improving its structure but now I am able to use our collective intelligence in the transparent process of Governance Meetings, which yields fantastic results. Far superior to anything I’ve worked out alone in my office room.

Our Structure is now Public

Yes, we have decided to publish our Holacracy structure. We have been using other public structure as benchmarks and inspiration and it was a tremendous help for building our own. Hopefully, our structure will also inspire others to either adopt or improve Holacracy / self-management practice.

You can see a beautiful visualisation of our organisation here: https://app.holaspirit.com/public/sylius.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article and if you would like to learn more about our experience with Holacracy and Teal practices, please let me know in the comments. I appreciate any reactions and questions. 🙂

Paweł Jędrzejewski
See my roles

Self-taught developer and entrepreneur, who has built an entire career and business through Open Source technology. Speaker at international conferences. PHPers meetups co-organizer. Keen on helping other young entrepreneurs and companies who may want to follow a similar path.

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