Holacracy Habits: Make Autocratic Decisions

  • Tiziano Rullo

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The main obstacle in implementing Holacracy are habits. Holacracy pushes us to change our reflexes and habits that used to serve us so well and that's why it's so difficult. Identifying the habits that need to change is the first step in a successful implementation. One of those habits: making decisions.

Traditional decision making

We are used to try to integrate different perspectives of different people while working together. While this sometimes leads to a more accurate and complete overview of the situation and allows for more informed decisions, it is often focussed on personal statements. Am I ok with it? Do I have anything against it?

The lack of clarity in terms of who is responsible for what, manifests in symptoms like tedious Slack discussions or meetings with the goal to integrate every perspective of every group member.

Yet, at the same time, there is always the risk of ignoring or dismissing valuable and critical perspectives, just because they are not shared by the majority or by a leading personality.

The shift in decision-making within Holacracy

In Holacracy we want to change that by shifting the way decisions are made: by distributing the decision making power to roles instead of people. Every role in a holarchy has the full authority to make decisions on how to act upon its purpose and get work done. And while it no longer gives equal power to every person, it makes every person powerful in their roles.

Having the power to make autocratic decisions in your roles doesn't mean you should never gather input. If you don't feel able to make a meaningful decision with the knowledge and data you have at hand in that specific moment, you want to get all the information and advice you need. Having explicit roles in Holacracy makes it even easier for you to identify where you might get that information from and where to ask for advice.

The challenge lies in distinguishing between gathering input and holding back decisions. Keep asking yourself, are you still gathering information to help you make a decision, or are you hoping that others will approve your decision? And do you need others to approve your decision to move further?

It might actually be reasonable to have some other role approve your decisions on specific topics. You just need to know when you need to get approval and when you don't. One way to achieve that is by making those mandatory advice processes explicit and Holacracy provides the tools to achieve that through roles and accountabilities, domains and policies.

Be aware of your roles

The goal is to raise awareness so that you can distinguish for yourself, if you are able to make an autocratic decision, if you need more information or advice in order to make a decision, if you have to follow a mandatory advice process or if you are just holding back.

So in order to boost your Holacracy implementation and your level of self-management, be aware of the authorities of your roles, get advice from others but avoid asking for permission unless required, and make autocratic decisions.

Remember the golden rule of Holacracy:

Everything is allowed that is not explicitly forbidden.

Read also how and Holacracy might help you get out of a victim mentality.


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