Holacratic Corporate structures are all the rage among new companies and young start ups, but what happens when you take that organizational structure to a large corporation?
Let me back up for a minute. In case Holacracy is not part of your everyday vernacular, Holacracy.org defines the term as a new way of running an organization that removes power from a management hierarchy and distributes it across clear roles. The work can then be executed autonomously, without micromanagement. The work is more structured with Holacracy than conventional management. There is a clear set of rules, and processes for how a team breaks up its work and defines roles with clear responsibilities.
Zappos is one of the biggest companies currently operating as a Holacracy. They have no job titles and even the architecture of their office is designed to allow for a free-flowing collaborative work environment. Desks and walls are easily moved to suit the needs of existing project teams or create a new space for new teams that are constantly forming around organizational goals set forth by the company as a whole.
THE RESULTS ARE IN.
What would happen if an architectural firm took this approach to business structure? Well, I can say from personal experience, the results are quite phenomenal. The office I work at* is mostly Holacratic. At Overland our jobs are defined more by us and our individual expertise than anything else. In this sense everyone becomes both leader and follower, and the people working on certain projects are by far the best people in the firm for the job. There is always room to move around and to grow in your knowledge and skill set by learning from each other. Like Zappos, our office layout was intentionally designed to be a flexible and open floor plan to encourage transparency, collaboration, resiliency, and (you guessed it) Holacracy.
In this way, projects get done faster and more efficiently with better end results. The office environment is relatively less stressful and more inviting to employees and clients alike. Skills and knowledge are constantly expanding resources that fuel development and new ideas to help solve complex problems. Everyone is appreciative of their neighbor.
I believe that moving forward most businesses organizational system will look like this for many reasons, but primarily because of one. It just works.
*Lawrence Dillon is now the fabrication manager at TADA, a creative design business that works on inspirational projects of all scales that promote joy. TADA was established in 2015 by Patrick Winn, AIA—a recent Overland alum—and his wife, Michelle. You can follow Lawrence on Instagram: @michaelldillon