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Sociocracy and Holacracy. A very different same

Sociocracy and Holacracy, so similar and so different!

- How do their practices differ?
- What view of men and organisations are they bringing forth?
- What kind of change processes are they best aligned with?
- Are there bridges to be built between them?
- What can we learn about the evolutionary journey organisations have ahead?

Sociocracy and Holacracy. A very different same

  1. 1. SOCIOCRACY and HOLACRACY A very different same Emanuele Quintarelli Entrepreneur and Organizational Emergineer at Cocoon Projects – Associate Partner at Peoplerise GLOBAL SOCIOCRACY CONFERENCE – May 2020
  2. 2. Our way of doing business is broken • Dying faster and faster. 75% of the S&P500 disappeared by 2025 (Innosight) • Constantly diminishing returns. ROA fell to ¼ of what it was in 1965 (Deloitte) • Vanished job safety. Average net new job creation rate negative for 20 years (Kauffman) • Exploding organizational bureaucracy. Management is a $8.4T toll (McKinsey) • Dramatic levels of employee motivation. 85% of employees are not engaged (Gallup)
  3. 3. Two challengers? • Evolutionary purpose • Intentional power distribution • Everything is allowed until it is not • Only as much structure as needed • Effectiveness and speed • Agility, experimentation, dynamic steering • Circle-based structure and double linking • Radical transparency • No hierarchy of individuals • Consent-based decisions LOTS IN COMMON 1851 - A system of governance for harmonious social environments and productive organizations SOCIOCRACY 2006 - A new management system for a rapidly changing world HOLACRACY
  4. 4. 1. How do their practices differ? 2. What view of men and organizations are they bringing forth? 3. What kind of change processes are they best aligned with? 4. Are there bridges to be built between them? 5. What can we learn about the evolutionary journey organizations have ahead? Are Sociocracy and Holacracy pretty the same? WHAT I MEANT TO EXPLORE IN 10 DIFFERENCES
  5. 5. DIFF 1 – What do they believe in? Foundations in human living systems, agency, search for connection, belonging and purpose. Mindset rooted in algorithms, simple / scalable rules, IC&T and GTD to cut off deviance. Effectiveness, equivalence, transparency, inclusion, feedback respect, conscious capitalism, NVC. Equivalence supports effectiveness Human beings and their dysfunctional behaviors as a drawback to organizational speed and efficiency. Efficiency by neutralizing humanity SOCIOCRACY HOLACRACY ROOTSBELIEFS
  6. 6. DIFF 2 – How do they want to contribute? Individuals naturally look for accountability, self-direction, self- control, self-motivation (Theory Y). In order to reach performance, the organization must “help” people to adhere to Theory Y (Theory X?) It supports deep relationships towards a more integrated life, connected society and communities with more sense of belonging. It protects the organization from political turfs, fiefdoms, hidden agendas and the willingness to go around the rules. SOCIOCRACY HOLACRACY WHATHOW
  7. 7. DIFF 3 – The meaning of governance A governance system for teams to flourish and contribute towards the organization mission. A governance system of the organization to achieve its purpose through the people. Governance means collaborative decision making to make policy (roles, selections, workflows, guidelines). Governance means distributing authority to let individuals know who can do what within what limits. SOCIOCRACY HOLACRACY WHATHOW
  8. 8. DIFF 4 – Operations vs Governance Operations and policy making along a continuum. Tactical activities clearly separated from governance. Consent for policies but often used also in operational decisions. Format for operational meetings. IDM only for power distribution. Daily activities happen between governance meetings. GTD for tactical activities. SOCIOCRACY HOLACRACY WHATHOW
  9. 9. DIFF 5 – Who is responsible for action? Circle as a group of people who collaborate and decide together how work is done. Circle as a cell of the organization with accountabilities and domains independent of who is filling them. The circle has collective responsibility for action based on how domain, roles and policies have been defined. Circles have no responsibilities for action. Individuals do by stepping outside of their personal identity, feeling and acting on tensions. SOCIOCRACY HOLACRACY WHATHOW
  10. 10. DIFF 6 – Proposal making and agenda building Proposals made collaboratively by the circle through picture forming and proposal shaping. In governance meetings, proposals are originated by the member that feels the tension. Agenda usually built before-hand by the facilitator and leader, based on the backlog / other needs and approved by consent. Agenda created during, not before governance meetings, by the facilitator, collecting tensions from participants. SOCIOCRACY HOLACRACY PROPSAGENDAS
  11. 11. DIFF 7 – The role of the leader The leader pays attention to operations and circle members. The lead link has responsibility for priorities, strategies, metrics and allocation of resources in the circle. More of a coordination responsibility for the leader, shared values and empathic facilitation helps the team to work horizontally. The lead link inherits purpose, accountabilities and domain of the circle top-down. SOCIOCRACY HOLACRACY WHATHOW
  12. 12. DIFF 8 – Work allocation Operational activities happen according to policies under the coordination of the leader. Individuals have total autonomy for the accountabilities assigned to them. The leader is assigned or elected and can take also the facilitator role. Any other role is selected by circle members. Selections by consent in the receiving circle. As a default the lead link is assigned from the higher circle. He/she then assigns people to fill operational circle roles. SOCIOCRACY HOLACRACY WHATHOW
  13. 13. DIFF 9 – Validation of objections Objections due to proposals beyond the range of tolerance. The goal is deciding together. Objections express a negative impact of the proposal on circle’s ability to move forward. Every objection is valid. Circle members share responsibility to decide how to integrate them. The facilitator tests objections through a checklist. The objector makes an amended proposal that the proposer should accept. SOCIOCRACY HOLACRACY WHATHOW
  14. 14. DIFF 10 – Self Expression and Ownership Every voice is heard & integrated. Values create safe space for self- expression & satisfaction of needs. Attention to the individual need for self-expression is missing in Holacracy. Mission Circle as a bridge to all stakeholders and other organizations. Sociocracy very well complements inclusive and self- ownership. The Anchor Circle accountable for the purpose but no mechanisms to include perspectives from other stakeholders or organizations. SOCIOCRACY HOLACRACY EXPR.OWNERSIP
  15. 15. In a nutshell, same same? Nope, a very different same! MODULAR vs MONOLITHIC HUMANE vs ALGORITHMIC 2 SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT PRACTICES 1 3
  16. 16. Is there something to learn? YES 1. A crispier distinction among governance and operational activities 2. Finding / building software solutions better able to facilitate sociocratic meetings and a transparent access to policy 3. More attention regarding how to bring Sociocracy within organizations 4. Applications and language appealing to the for-profit world 5. Clarifying the heritage from (lean, cybernetics, living organizations) and connection with (agile, steward ownership, non-violent communication) other movements
  17. 17. Unique needs and context more than any single framework NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL • No governance model is best • An informed and intentional reflection more than any right framework • Purpose, organizational culture and strategic goals are the context • Taking responsibility for an ongoing, holistic, iterative, learning journey • Experimenting with evolutionary seeds that address specific needs. Trying, failing, trying again.. THE HUMAN ORGANIZATION MAP
  18. 18. Emanuele Quintarelli Entrepreneur and Organizational Emergineer at Cocoon Projects – Associate Partner at Peoplerise Email: Website: Linkedin: Q&AThanks to Ted Rau and Andrea Farè for having discussions that improved this presentation