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Playing with hierarchies and circles - Experimenting holacracy

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In May 2011, I thought about experimenting a new concept to get things done in the L&D space: engage different experts to deliver outcomes, with no hierarchical reporting, no minimum required contributions and no monetary reward. On paper it looked like it was doomed to fail.

By end the end of 2012 the results were mind blowing and kept improving in 2013, so in March 2014, I thought to extend this concept of 'circles' to drive employee engagement and develop a relevant employee value proposition for our staff.

In Oct 2014, I've been told this may be called 'holacracy' - one of the latest management trend - an approach where we "grant special protection to employees to experiment with ideas. It is governance of the organization, through the people, for the purpose. It enables the organization to find and express its deepest creative capacity."

Presented at Organisational Learning Consortium, Sydney 26 November 2014.
Special thanks to Guillaume Kozinski and Marie O'Brien for their inspiring guidance and support, Fiona McCallum and Andy Brown for trusting me with this experiment.

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Playing with hierarchies and circles - Experimenting holacracy

  1. 1. ‘Playing’ with hierarchies and circles Experimenting holacracy to boost staff engagement and get things done Alexandra Lederer Learning & Organisation Development Manager Organisational Learning Consortium Sydney 26 November 2014
  2. 2. 02 Feb 2011 “We need …
  3. 3. Reduce costs Increase reach & consistency Increase levels of [relevant] technical skills [Smash silos of hidden expertise] [Create connections between experts] [Transfer critical knowledge] (90% core competency training) (90% external training) What was behind this ‘solutions-driven’ request?
  4. 4. “We need something … From ‘solutions-driven’ to ‘purpose-driven’
  5. 5. Knowledge Management Consultant Training Manager
  6. 6. A purpose-driven experiment to ‘play’ with a circle: The Learning Curve Team (May 2011) Volunteers No hierarchical reporting Min. required contributions No monetary reward
  7. 7. A purpose-driven experiment to ‘play’ with a circle: The Learning Curve Team (May 2011)
  8. 8. "All staff regardless of background or location have access to our new educational program. Colleagues are encouraged to get involved in L&D by sharing their knowledge with others, which is turn also improves their own skills. This year alone I would hazard a guess that our internal education program has saved Genea upwards of $50 000. Education the most powerful tool we have at hand, now at a price we can all afford." ‘Playing’ with circles – What has been achieved? Linda T., Laboratory Manager at Genea – December 2012
  9. 9. ‘Playing’ with circles – What has been achieved? Focus on micro internal knowledge transfer sessions
  10. 10. ‘Playing’ with circles – What has been achieved? The Learning Curve offer: hyper-active and … low cost $1,079 $957 $778 $774 FY11 FY12 FY13 FY14 28% savings on PD spent/FTE PD budget/FTE Actual PD/FTE 11 12 28 30 13 18 8 14 14 24 16 11 6 14 146 225 232 233 230 246 131 146 130 158 155 296 92 FY13: 206 events - 2,420 participants Learning opportunities Nb participants
  11. 11. Thank you
  12. 12. It’s getting bigger! (Mar 2014) “We need …
  13. 13. Let’s try to ‘play’ with more circles! The Genea Committees (Oct 2014) Volunteers No hierarchical reporting No required contributions No monetary reward Join the [serious] fun! Celebrate what we believe in: Values Committee Welcome our newbies: Genea Buddy Pass on your knowledge: Learning Curve Foster our wellness: Good for You Committee Encourage us to do the right things: Good for All Committee Cultivate the fun and build bonds: Social Club Committee
  14. 14. Let’s try to ‘play’ with more circles! The Genea Committees (Oct 2014) Core committee members From each business area Champions + ad- hoc contributors HR = sponsor
  15. 15. •Committee setup •Draft strategy & plan 19 Sep Ask 28 Oct Finalise the plan 28 Nov Communicate activities for Jan-Mar 2015 12 Dec ‘Playing’ with more circles – What has been achieved? The Genea Committees: forming, storming and norming 28 Oct 02 Dec
  16. 16. So apparently that’s called ‘holacracy’… “Holacracy is management by committee with an emphasis on experimentation. Hierarchies are re- organized into decentralized teams that choose their own roles and goals.”
  17. 17. …and it’s the latest management trend! “The latest management trend to sweep Silicon Valley requires CEOs to formally relinquish their authority and grants special protection for every employee to experiment with ideas. It's called holacracy and big name tech leaders have jumped on the bandwagon.”
  18. 18. Your summer read sorted: holacracy.org The holacracy governance process is not governance “of the people, by the people, and for the people” – it is governance of the organization, through the people, for the purpose. It enables the organization to find and express its deepest creative capacity.
  19. 19. Why ‘circles’ may be working If we have engaged stakeholders in the new approach CEO / Execs: strategic & business buy-in Vision | Organisational changes End-users: pragmatic buy-in Day to day | Individual Key stakeholders: operational buy-in Business Unit / Team / Occupational External providers, stakeholders and networks
  20. 20. Why ‘circles’ may be working If there’s lots in it for them
  21. 21. Celebrate our values: Values Welcome our newbies: Genea Buddy Pass on your knowledge: Learning Curve Foster our wellness: GFY Committee Encourage us to do the right things: CSR Committee Cultivate the fun and build bonds: Social Club Committee Do something different       Integrity  Excellence   Accountability  Innovation   Passion   Strategic thinking*    Engage and inspire*   Talent enhancement*   Collaboration*     Process improvement Results Building relationships Adaptability       Have [serious] fun       What’s in it for you?
  22. 22. Why ‘circles’ may be working If there’s a purpose, hence expectations are set from scratch
  23. 23. What do we expect? Celebrate our values: Values Welcome our newbies: Genea Buddy 12m | 18m Pass on your knowledge: Learning Curve Foster our wellness: GFY Committee Encourage us to do the right things: CSR Committee Cultivate the fun and build bonds: Social Club Committee Available spots/Committee 6-7* Unlimited Unlimited 6-7* 6-7* 8-10 Pick your commitment  Anytime Anytime   Attend committee meetings     Design the strategy    Develop the plan 3m | 6m | 18m     Take ownership to make activities happen       Have [serious] fun, learn a lot, meet people      
  24. 24. Why ‘circles’ may be working If we use a few tricks Regular meetings Informal setting Round table format Focus on outcomes
  25. 25. Why ‘circles’ may be working If we can drive organisational alignment & and leverage Processes, Practices & Projects Tools People Knowledge & Skills
  26. 26. Why ‘circles’ may be working If we can work smarter together to get things done Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Corporate L&D (4) Nursing L&D (3) Labs L&D (3) WHS L&D (2) ‘Underground’ or ‘under-the radar’ conception, design and development work Regular learning deliverables by: ‘above the line’ ‘below the line’
  27. 27. 10Q3 10Q4 11Q1 11Q2 11Q3 11Q4 12Q1 12Q2 12Q3 12Q4 13Q1 13Q2 13Q3 13Q4 14Q1 14Q2 14Q3 14Q4 Why ‘circles’ may be working If we can go with the flow of circles’ life cycles Forming Storming Norming Performing Creating Social Club Good for You Learning Curve Good for All
  28. 28. 11Q2 11Q3 11Q4 12Q1 12Q2 12Q3 12Q4 13Q1 13Q2 13Q3 13Q4 14Q1 14Q2 14Q3 14Q4 Why ‘circles’ may be working If we can go with the flow of members’ contributions cycles Forming Storming Norming Performing Creating Creating members Creating member uneasy with uncertainty (‘anti- storm’) Continuity gap Members come & go continually New ‘anti-norm’ member
  29. 29. Why ‘circles’ may be working If we can go with the flow of members’ contributions cycles 2 Lurkers Opportunists Contributors Creators •+80% •Seem inactive •Read, click, transact •May be ambassadors •10-20% •Seem annoying but useful •Provide feedback, ask questions, vote, forward to others, ambassadors •3-10% •Review, provide feedback, ask questions, do as told •Contribute as told •0-3% •Establish, create, innovate •Drive, plan, organise •May become bored once in order Source: The four levels of community engagement, Gartner 2008
  30. 30. Why ‘circles’ may be working If we always thank, recognise, reward etc. Knowledge sharing awards Participation in committees pat of L&D Celebrate achievements Celebrate people coming & going
  31. 31. Why ‘circles’ may be working If we are able to find the right balance when juggling the circles Leadership Collaboration Purpose-driven with organisational goals in mind Results-orientation Autonomy levels Sponsor Coach Drive Direct Intervene
  32. 32. Why ‘circles’ may be working If we embrace change as a permanent thing “Everything is changeable, everything appears and disappears; Everything changes, nothing remains without change. The only things which do not change are the laws of change." Buddha
  33. 33. Should you be ‘playing’ with circles? Diversity Visibility Step-up Learn & grow Collaborate Have fun Get promoted! Involve Democratic representation Hit the target Shared responsibility Reduced costs and FTE Engaged workforce Agile and flexible Fast and iterative Collaboration Innovation Cost savings ? Best Employer Guest of Co-Labs  Benefits for staff Benefits for HR Benefits for the business
  34. 34. Knowledge Management Consultant Training Manager Learning + Knowledge Management + Innovation …and more!
  35. 35. Each step on our journey is an opportunity to learn, and that learning is enriched when shared … … thank you for your attention. Alexandra Lederer alexandra.lederer@genea.com.au

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