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Paweł Jędrzejewski
29.03.2018 | 5 mins read

Holacracy. Our Future Is Teal!

We are changing as an organization to better support our purpose & Community. We love innovation not only in technology, but also in business and life in general. We’re aiming high and want to continue making an impact on the world around us. Read this blog post if you want to goon this journey with us!

Challenge of Rapid Growth

One year ago we have spinned off from a software house to a product company. We were 5 people in our office in an apartment building. Since then, a lot of things have changed. We managed to release the stable version of Sylius eCommerce Framework, its daily installs more than doubled, we organized many community events, launched 2 new versions of our website and finally announced the Sylius Solution Partner Program with 8 amazing companies on board and more joining very soon. Our team is now 11 passionate young people who love technology and Open Source.

We are experiencing rapid growth and my challenge, as the Founder & CEO, was to define the vision, mission and structure, and manage everything top-down. Of course, you can delegate some of the power (and I did it) but it is still only a “delegation” from the boss to the employees. I experimented with many concepts of how to organize us but nothing felt right when I challenged different management methods with my own principles. I believe human collaboration is most effective when it is completely voluntary. At the same time, being the “boss” means that all the responsibility and stress is centralized on you, even if delegated to some degree.

Missing Piece of Puzzle

Sometime in October I’ve seen a video about Holacracy – a new self-management system for organizations. It was recorded by XSolve, who was undergoing the transformation at this time. I found it interesting but did not dig much deeper. Then, at the 2nd Sylius Hackathon in Germany organized with our partners from solutionDrive, I’ve met Lukas from Liip, another awesome Sylius Solution Partner. Lukas told me about Holacracy in practice and provided me with a missing piece of puzzle.

I had already believed in Voluntaryism in my personal life but I was not able to translate it to my company. I think I’ve spent 8 hours talking about it with the team while we drove back to Poland. Then I got a special gift from the team for my birthday – the Holacracy book. I started learning about Teal / Self-Management practices and watched some presentations of Frederic Laloux. We have made multiple meetings with the entire team to discuss the idea and went to the Holacracy Practitioners Meetup to learn more.

Fast forward to the 13th of March, we have ratified the Holacracy Constitution. Now, with the help of amazing Ewa Bocian from the dwarfs & Giants we are painting our organization in teal.

I bet you have some questions now.

Everyone in the team signed the constitution.

What is Teal?

The Teal movement refers to the evolution of organizational structures. It rejects the old type of management and hierarchy and replaces it with independence and common purpose. Such organizations are characterized by self-management and wholeness. It means you come to work as a whole human being, with all your strengths and weaknesses. Silencing your ego (try that at any corporation…) and using both reason and emotions to pursue the purpose of your organization.
In this kind of companies there is a decentralized structure that consist of small teams taking care of their own responsibilities and interacting with other parts of organization. One person can fill multiple roles and needs to accept them. Roles’ acts are guided by the organization’s purpose and the individual will to fulfil it.
Rapid changes and adaptations are continuously made and implemented in small structures without the need for big reorgs. Full transparency is the end-goal.

Learn more about reinventing organizations from this simple explainer video.

Realizing how many roles we actually have within the organization.

Holacracy

Holacracy is a part of the Teal movement focused on self-management.
Positions, called “Roles”, are defined around the work, not people. Each person fills several roles according to one’s skills and talents. They may come from different circles (groups of roles) and are defined by name, purpose (an inspiring reason to act), accountabilities and few other elements. Roles can be created, removed or updated during the Governance Meetings. This regular and structured process helps the organization to adapt and resolve “tensions”, which are problems or improvements. Decisiveness and authority among the company is distributed to roles so all decisions are made locally. All of the rules are transparent to the whole organization and everyone is bound to keep them equally, including the “old” CEO.

Holacracy? Relax, nothing is under control.

Our Purpose

This purpose will evolve and we will constantly seek its new meanings and new ways of expressing it. Before I reveal it, let me tell you a story of a pencil.

This story is based on a lecture given by the economist Milton Friedman, which inspired me to define this purpose.

There is not a single person in this world that can make a pencil without exchanging goods & services with other people. If we take a closer look at this “simple” item, we will notice that it takes many elements to ultimately produce it.

There is wood, which was cut down with a saw. This saw requires iron, which needs to be mined, transported, melted and transformed into steel. There is graphite, which may or may not come from mines in South America. There is rubber, which most likely comes from Malaya and some paint to satisfy the aesthetic part of our human nature. Finally, a piece of metal, which holds the eraser and the wooden base together.

I think it is safe to say that thousands of people from all around the world collaborated to make this pencil. They do not know each other and they probably speak different languages, have different skin colors, religions and political views. They might even hate each other if they would have met. Yet, they have traded, which in the end produced something really valuable. When we purchase a pencil, we are actually trading few minutes of our life for few seconds of life of all those people. And for everyone involved it is a win-win transaction. This amazing spontaneous order enhances our life on every step and maintains peace. French economist Frédéric Bastiat said “When goods do not cross borders, soldiers will”.

Inspired by this philosophy, we have defined the following purpose of our organization:

Catalyze trade with technology

Catalyze means “cause or accelerate (a reaction) by acting as a catalyst”. We believe that by making it easier for people to trade goods & services, we make the world a better place. The fact that our software solutions and services allow people who have no clue about each other make voluntary win-win transactions is exciting and fills our minds & hearts with hope for a happy and prosperous future.

We hope our Ecosystem will be inspired by this purpose and pursue it together with our organization.

Expect regular updates about our Holacracy adventure. There is a lot of experience to share.

Let us know what you think! 🙂

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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