I’ve read a lot of 3rd-party perspectives on Holacracy over the past few years, including many about Zappos’ transition to the radical corporate self-management system, but had yet to read the source material on it. I got around to ordering the book last week and found it a surprisingly quick read.
The book itself is a bit like a book you might read introducing a new sport. It lays out the ground rules, the basic system structures, and some strategies for getting started in such a radically new system. The author Brian Robertson is very up-front that Holacracy was developed as a practical structure, not as the implementation of a grand theory of organization. This leads the book to focus much more on the practical than the abstract.
The book felt like a good introduction to how Holacracy, the system, would work in practice and what day-to-day events might look like. The examples were compelling and covered both scenarios where things go right, as well as those where rules are broken and need correction.
A large swath of the the book is focused on converting existing companies over to Holacracy. This is likely partially influenced by the clientele which HolacracyOne, the author’s consultancy, would like to attract through the book, but does leave startups lacking for guidance in how Holacracy could be practiced with a small and growing team. It also only touches briefly on topics about compensation, performance review, and firing, which in my conceptual model of self-management are the biggest unknowns and risks.
Overall a good, fast read which left me thinking deeply about organization, power, and the distribution of decision-making. Would love to hear personal experiences with Holacracy or other systems of self-management.