Are You Ready for Holacracy?

Post by Ray 3 years ago - Social Business - 4 Comments

 Brendan Tully Walsh Holacracy HOA

Brendan Tully Walsh talking Holacracy on #GPlusLunchBunch

What happens when the boss fires himself and declares a Holacracy?

Chaos or egalitarian paradise?

Neither, according to Brendan Tully Walsh, my guest this week on the GPlusLunchBunch show.

I asked Brendan to join us around the Hangout On Air lunch table to talk about his experience introducing Holacracy into his Montreal marketing agency, Brendan & Brendan Marketing.

Brendan is co founder with the other Brendan, Brendan Sera-Shriar.


Like Brendan, I first heard about Holacracy when social media was buzzing with news that Zappos was adopting the system.

I was cynical.

I’m of a certain generation where the workplace had bosses, sub bosses and department bosses under them. Hell, I was a boss.


But Brendan, being the award winning journalist he is, kept an open mind and investigated it further.

He admits to not being an expert nor a spokesman for Holacracy and I didn’t want one.

It was more important to have him share the agency’s experience than to regurgitate information we can readily find on



…And why did Brendan think it was a good fit for his agency?

Holacracy = Distributed Authority


Holacracy infographic
Holacracy: Do You Want a Purpose Driven and Responsive Company? [Infographic]
“The idea is to structure the company around the work that needs to be done rather than the people who do it.” – Tony Hsieh, Zappos.

Because, Brendan is also a musician, he pulled a couple of music analogies to demonstrate how “us” replaces “me” in the holacratic model.

Roles shift day to day and can be ongoing as well.

Titles can be shuffled at any moment depending on different requirements. The drummer could take lead vocal, the bassist move over to percussion – whatever lineup best served the song.

Within an Holacracy, people do what they need to do to get the job done.

Take me to your leader. 

Eliminating the title of leader doesn’t eliminate the function.

There is still ‘“leadership” inside the circles (teams), but no leader of the circles.


Wherever possible, Brendan & Brendan collaborates on projects.

If there’s an opportunity to do one thing a day as an entire organization, that’s what they’ll do.

More often it’s three things – but not the “ten” things, as often was the case before holacracy. 

It’s a dynamic and agile system.

“Unlike conventional top-down or progressive bottom-up approaches, it (Holacracy) integrates the benefits of both without relying on parental heroic leaders.
Everyone becomes a leader of their roles and a follower of others, processing tensions with real authority and real responsibility, through dynamic governance and transparent operations.”

Holacracy How it works


Eliminating the title of leader doesn’t eliminate the function. 


Traditional “leaders” stand in the way of an organization’s ability to do its best work.

By staying in a silo, the boss doesn’t contribute to the company’s growth. He may actually inhibit it by falling back on ego driven routine instead of agile responses to current problems.


How do you hire for a Holacracy?


“It’s not a very human-centric model for things. For example, if you’re a junior designer, Holacracy says that you should bring up everything in this forum, but it can be difficult to ask for feedback or mentorship, especially when you’re new.” – Jason Stirman, Medium

Brendan agrees in general, that millennials will adapt better to this model, as will those used to team dynamics. As far as personalities go, creative, confident and curious types would be particularly suited.

When asked whether Holacracy would work for Freelancers or the self employed, Brendan responded that the same principle of honesty applies.

If you work by yourself all day, it’s easy to lose objectivity and admit that you may actually suck at some part of your tasks. It’s better to outsource that and work at what you’re good at.

Using another musical analogy, musicians who practice alone for six hours a day, may be perfecting their “mistakes”.



Key points from the video:

1:15m – What is Holacracy and why did you think it was a good fit for Brendan & Brendan?

3:00m – How long did it take to make the switch the Holacracy model?

5:08m – Music analogy

8:06m – What happens when someone doesn’t want to step up to the microphone?

16:14m – How do you account for different personality types in the organization?

19:00m – How does it affect hiring process? (fitting in with Holacratic culture)

30:00m – How would it work for freelancers and independent contractors?



3 Brendan & Brendan articles about their “holacratic” journey”:

On Governance – This Is How Brendan & Brendan Do It

How Do You Prioritize in a Holacratic Workplace?

Adopting AGILE and Making the Holacratic Method Work for Brendan & Brendan

Holacracy: How it Works

4 Holacracy Keepers

4 Holacracy Misses


Although I understand the benefits of a truly collaborative work environment, I can’t shake my cynicism.

The rules are rigid, the terminology unnecessarily contrived.

Holacracy is very self centred, which is understandable as it is an organizational model. It seems to focus more on how you do your work than why you do it.

But I only work in a Holacracy of one…

What do you think about Holacracy? Is it a good fit for your company?


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You can catch our weekly Google+ LunchBunch show every Tuesday at 12:15 pm EDT.


About Ray Hiltz

Thanks for dropping by. I'm the Director of Digital Marketing for My background in business includes non-profit (performing arts), restaurants and Promotions. Having moved on from my own strategic consulting company, I now write about what interests me. So in this blog, you may read about my thoughts on marketing, health issues and business culture. You can follow me on Twitter @rayhiltz or @image24Call

4 Responses to “Are You Ready for Holacracy?”

  1. newraycom luislondon  I will love to participate, my schedule being restricted to a 30 minute lunch. Does not help. Though I can plan ahead and organize it. I know that I need to bring my own laptop for a performing A/V.  Since I know about Yellow Pages’ turning point I may be able to talk about Google Adwords best practices. Let’s discuss this over coffee.

  2. luislondon  Thanks, Luis. That’s the big advantage of HOAs, they live on forever.
    Miss you at the lunch table. Maybe the only way to get you at it is to have you as a guest to discuss the change in the “business listings” industry. 🙂

  3. Very Interesting Topic. So bad that i couldn’t participate on this Hangout. But great that you did a recorded Hangout on Air. Thanks for sharing! Holocracy was implemented at KAI Design and we didn’t even knew it. The concept is great, I found it very professional and a step forward for many businesses.
    Thanks to Brendan Tully for sharing his experience. I know that the Brendans are the perfect model for Holocracy.


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