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Last week one of our potential clients asked whether it was possible to combine ‘Holacracy’ and the ‘Scaling up’ method of Verne Harnish.
When I pondered the question I realized, that we have been doing exactly that for the last four years.
Once we defined our purpose and values we looked for a strategy system as well as a self management system that would help us align with that purpose and those values.
‘Scaling up’ provides a great method for defining strategy and drilling it down into priorities and projects. On top of that, the one page strategy plan is a great way to capture strategy and priorities in a clear vision of what the organization needs in order to grow.
‘Holacracy’ gives us a system to break down all the work that needs to be done into roles and accountabilities in order to realize the strategy.
We rewrote the ‘Holacracy’ constitution (since it was way too complicated for us) into a small playbook that we use (download here https://www.soople.eu/downloads/) but this playbook, just like ‘Holacracy’ does not provide tooling for strategy and priority definition and deployment.
Since both ‘Scaling up’ and ‘Holacracy’ are based on a disciplined meeting rhythm and short cycled improvement loops, the combination of methods felt very logical to us.
Only when the question was asked I consciously realized what I have subconsciously known for the last 4 years: they fit together very well and actually complement and accelerate one another.
“Scaling up” provides (a great way to define the work)
· A smart strategy defining method
· A simple and very clear strategy overview
· A breakdown from strategy into priorities, projects and actions
“Holacracy” provides: (a great way to organise the work)
· A system for translating priorities into roles and accountabilities
· A continuous improvement loop on how we organize the work defined for us by the strategy and priorities
· A simple strategy deployment structure
They both provide
· Great meeting rythm and agenda structures that are very easily combined or merged
· Smart structures to help focus on priorities
· A disciplined, purpose driven and focused way of working
And the cool thing is: once you start working with ‘Holacracy’ you will find that almost every topic that ‘Scaling up’ covers has a place in it. Lets talk about three of them.
1 Purpose and values
‘Holacracy’ considers purpose to be the “boss” of the organization and it is captured in a software tool (we use Holaspirit). A clear sense of purpose is not restricted to the company as a whole, but will be found in every team or circle. Within each team a specificly defined role is responsible for translating purpose into strategy and priorities. The one page strategy plan can easily be used for circle/ teams strategy as well. ’Scaling up’ will not only trigger a clear definition of purpose and values but will help your organization to activate those purpose inspired values in your team members. We put the topic of purpose on the agenda of our tactical (work) meeting every other week. everyone has to answer the following 2 questions every time we meet “Did you live up to our purpose with clients this week?” “and how did you do that?” It creates great new insights and ensures everybody consciously lives the purpose.
2 Strategy and priorities
‘Scaling up’ will help you translate your strategy into quarterly priorities, projects and goals. Among other things, this is based on both SWT (strength weakness and trends) analyses and the specific added value you would like to provide to your environment (stakeholders). ‘Holacracy’ provides you with the ultimate tool to monitor the progress on these project’s priorities and goals. The weekly (we tend to use a bi-weekly rhythm) work or tactical meeting automatically covers the relevant metrics / goals we have defined and it covers the progress on defined projects. In this case the combination of methods really accelerates.
3 Actions and personal accountabilities
We like the way ’Scaling up’ drills down strategy into personal accountabilities, projects and actions and the combination with ‘Holacracy’ works here as well. The progress on actions and metrics based on your personal accountabilities are monitored in the weekly work meeting, of which the output is captured in the earlier mentioned software tool that is accessible to all members of the organization.
Roles and accountabilities are captured in this tool as well. This tool is the center of who is accountable for what and how is he or she performing on that accountability. Apart from the roles and the projects, metrics, goals and the meeting notes are captured in this tool as well. Thus, we have created a completely transparent system that helps each member of the organization monitor the progress on our strategic performance. The tool we use is called Holaspirit. It is super easy to set up and use and it offers great API’s and possibilities to tailor it to our own environment unlike other tools that focus solely on Holacracy.
What’s not included in both methods
What we missed in both methods was a smart way to create trust and transparency in the organization. We noticed a clear need in people to feel perfectly safe in their work environment before they can accept any (let alone full) accountability. And safe would mean the feeling that they can:
· Make mistakes
· Share any type of information about work (even if it is bad news)
· Give honest feedback
· Be Vulnerable
It turns out that this is just as important as implementing any method. Let me know if you would like to learn more …