Our Holacracy Practice

After reading the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux and based on the reviews in the book and the experiences at fellow Las Vegas-based outfit Zappos, we knew that Holacracy was the management system we had been searching for.

Holacracy is a complete, packaged system for self-management in organizations. Holacracy replaces the traditional management hierarchy with a new peer-to-peer "operating system" that increases transparency, accountability, and organizational agility.

Holacracy combines the freedom of self-management with a detailed rule set and a tested meeting process that allows us to actually distribute real decision making authority to every employee in the company.

This means that every employee holds a one or more leadership roles and is empowered to make meaningful decisions.

"In Holacracy, one of the principles is to make the implicit explicit — tons of it is about creating clarity: who is in charge of what, who is taking what kind of decision — and there is also a system for defining that, and changing that, so it’s very flexible at the same time.”
– Evan Williams Co-Founder, Twitter

How Does Holacracy Actually Work?

Unless you’ve practiced it yourself, your preconceived notions about Holacracy are probably pretty wrong. Holacracy is not a "flat hierarchy", it’s not "no hierarchy" and it’s certainly not anarchy.

Most basically, Holacracy is a system to allow the organizational structure of the company to be determined directly by the team and to allow it to change over time, via incremental changes.

At a weekly Governance Meeting, everyone has the opportunity to shape the Roles in the company, including the Purpose of each Role and its Accountabilities. If a Role grows too big to be filled by a single type of team member, it can be further differentiated into sub-Roles, much like how a bodily organ is made up of different types of smaller cells.

When hired at Action Verb, you’ll start in a single Role. But you are free at any time to express interest in another Role and if you take on an additional Role, you will now be responsible for that Role’s Purpose and Accountabilities.

Roles can get pretty specific. The more established team members at Action Verb hold 10-20 Roles each.

The Holacracy Constitution

The exact rules of the Holacracy process are spelled out in the Holacracy Constitution, which is an open-source document built by a team of contributors who collaborate via pull requests on Github.

While the Constitution is a fascinating read, we recommend that you don’t make it your first reading material about Holacracy. Reading the Constitution from cover to cover would be like reading the NFL Rules Manual when trying to learn about football. Just like a better way to learn football is to go watch a game, the best way to learn Holacracy is to do it. The Holacracy sponsoring organization offers training events and introductory workshops and we highly recommend those. We allow all of our team members to attend these training sessions and we pick up the tab.

Another great resource for making sense of the Holacracy Constitution is the book by the original author of the constitution.

It’s certainly not required that you understand any of this to apply for a job at Action Verb, but if you accept one, we’ll expect you to at least read the book before you start.

Our Founder and Shareholders Hold No Authority Other Than Through Holacracy

Probably the most surprising aspect of our Holacracy practice is our high level of commitment to the Holacracy process.

Our founder and shareholders have formally ceded their authority to govern and run Action Verb except through the Constitution and its rules and processes.

This means that our Founder and Shareholders promise not to do anything to side-step the Holacracy process and promise to protect the guarantees provided by the Constitution.

Many companies treat their founder as some sort of mythical hero figure, whose opinion is infalliable and must always be followed. Our founder specifically seeks to avoid this sort of treatment. At Action Verb, everyone has leadership authority through the Holacracy process, and you can be assured that nobody will go out of process and mess with your work.

We’re Hiring

Does Holacracy sound like an improvement over your current work environment?

If so, we’d like you to apply for a job with Action Verb.