Liip Blog Kirby Sun, 19 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100 Latest articles from the Liip Blog en libvips adapter for PHP Imagine blog/libvips-adapter-for-php-imagine Sun, 19 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100 The VIPS image processing system is a very fast, multi-threaded image processing library with low memory needs. And it really is pretty fast, the perfect thing for rokka and we'll be transitioning to using it soon.

Fortunately, there's a PHP extension for VIPS and a set of classes for easier access to the VIPS methods. So I started to write a VIPS adapter for Imagine and came quite far in the last few days. Big thanks to the maintainer of VIPS John Cupitt, who helped me with some obstacles I encountered and even fixed some issues I found in a very short time.

So, without much further ado I present imagine-vips, a VIPS adapter for Imagine. I won't bore you with how to install and use it, it's all described on the GitHub repo.

There is still some functionality missing (see the README for details), but the most important operations (at least for us) are implemented. One thing which will be hard to implement correctly are Layers. Currently the library just loads the first image in for example an animated gif. Not sure, we will ever add that functionality, since libvips can't write those gifs anyway. But with some fallback to imagick or gd, it would nevertheless be possible.

The other thing not really well tested yet (but we're on it) are images with ICC colour profiles. Proper support is coming.

As VIPS is not really something installed on many servers, I don't expect a huge demand on this package, but it may be of use for someone, so we open sourced this with joy. Did I say, that it's really fast? And maybe someone finds some well hidden bugs or extends it to make it even more useful. Patches and reports are of course always welcome.

Liip launches a comprehensive career portal with the Migros Group blog/liip-launches-a-comprehensive-career-portal-with-the-migros-group Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100 Starting today, the Migros Group has a central point of contact for career matters. The new career portal, Migros Group Arbeitswelt (, presents all relevant information on the work environment of Switzerland's largest employer and its associated companies to users in a clear and structured manner. In addition to information on business activities, working conditions and numerous portraits of employees, the platform focuses on a comprehensive job exchange. The aim of the new offer is to make it easier for interested candidates to search for jobs and to find suitable job advertisements from the wide range of offers. Liip supports the Migros Group in its long-term strategy of positioning itself as an attractive and versatile employer.

Liip has supported the Migros Group on the basis of a preliminary study, first wireframes and the CI/CD to design the new online career portal, to design it interactively and visually as well as to implement it technically. "One of the biggest challenges in the project was to map the complex group structure of Migros in a way that was easy for the user to understand," says Product Owner Martin Meier at Liip. The solution to this problem was, among other things, user testing of an early wireframe prototype and a consistent focus on the user on both the visitor and editorial side. Although the "Migros Gruppe Arbeitswelt" hosted more than 60 cooperatives and companies at the launch and the content was created by a correspondingly large number of teams, a very high degree of visual and structural consistency can be ensured through the site. This is made possible by a flat information architecture and numerous content modules that automatically adapt to the respective context. This gives cooperatives and companies sufficient flexibility and scope to optimize their new career site.

The new online platform was implemented together with the Migros Group deliberately following an agile approach. The continuous optimization during the course of the project enabled us to develop a high quality product, which already comes with extensive functions in the first release. The focus is on the search function for 600 jobs per month and the 1500 additional apprenticeships advertised each year, which is extremely efficient and flexible due to the modern Vue.js frontend architecture. For content management, the open source system Drupal 8 was chosen. In summary, Micol Rezzonico, Head of the Competence Center Employer Branding, says: "Together with Liip, we have succeeded in building a clear and stable platform that can be developed further on a modular basis and gives the Migros Group the opportunity to make its extraordinary diversity and the many qualities in the field of career accessable".

Responsible at the Migros Cooperative Association: Micol Rezzonico (Head of Competence Center Employer Branding), Christopher Schmidt (Project Manager), Pascal Schwager (Product Owner), Sabina Del Grosso (Content Strategy), Ivan Ganarin (Information Architect); Responsible at Liip: Martin Meier (Product Owner, Consultant), Jan Hug (UX Designer, Developer), Jonathan Minder (Developer), Krisztian Kovacs (Developer), Christian Wüthrich (Developer), Christian Stocker (Developer), Fabian Ryf (SEO/Analytics), Daniel Frey (Scrum Master), Tonio Zemp (Consultant).

Link to the Migros Gruppe Arbeitswelt:

Introducing rokka stack expressions blog/introducing-rokka-stack-expressions Mon, 13 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100 Stacks in rokka were already a powerful way to abstract away the actual definition of how images should be rendered. It frees up the frontend implementation of knowing what's the best way to deliver those images, it just has to know the appropriate stack name and keeps those URLs short and easier to remember.

Now, we made them even more powerful with expressions. Expressions can override a value depending on other values. What is this good for? The major use case currently is that with higher resolution screens, images can get quite large when you send them in the right size. But they don't need a very high compression quality to still look good as on non-retina screens. This can save a lot of kilobytes in your requests. See for example this blog post by for some comparison.

Until now you either needed two different stacks to achieve this (and the frontend implementation had to know, when to use which one) or add way too many dynamic options to the URL (and again, the frontend had to know, which are the right ones).

Not anymore, rokka expressions to the rescue. A stack definition to define a lower jpg quality for retina images would look like the following:

  "operations": [
      "name": "resize",
      "options": {
        "width": "500"
  "options": {
    "autoformat": true,
    "jpg.quality": 80,
    "webp.quality": 80
  "expressions": [
      "expression": "options.dpr >= 2",
      "overrides": {
        "options": {
          "jpg.quality": 50,
          "webp.quality": 50

It basically says, use a jpg and webp quality of 80, except if DPR is set to 2 or more, then use 50. And all you're frontend has to do is to request for non retina images and for a DPR of 2. Rokka will then do all the magic.

You can put all that in srcset enabled img tags for making the browser decide, what it actually needs.

<img src="" 
     srcset=" 2x">

Addendum I: We're currently working on template helper classes for the rokka php client and also a rokka twig implementation for easier integration of rokka and such features into your new or existing projects.

Addendum II: We also introduced a short_hash for all new images on rokka last week. Makes your image URLs even shorter, eg. instead of one with a 40 char long hash. You can use that short hash for all render and API operations on rokka.

Addendum III: We're also working on support for HTTP Client Hints for even more magic in delivering the right image. Watch this space for more.

What writing novels and code have in common blog/what-writing-novels-and-code-have-in-common Thu, 09 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100 I write a lot. While working at Liip, that writing comes in form of code, considering I'm a developer, but also includes documentation, comments, tickets and more. Knowing how to write is a skill that is very beneficial for me to have at my job. But it doesn't end there.

I also write stories. Long stories. Books you could call them. Writing those kinds of things has a long history for me, but what prompted me to write this post was the connections between my writing at work and in my free time: An event that is happening each November.

Welcome to NaNoWriMo

For a while now the National Novel Writing Month, or short NaNoWriMo, has transcended the national moniker and has gone international. In various places all over the globe, people come together with the goal to write at least 50'000 words, or about the size of a novel, in the 30 days of November. In Switzerland, the Zürich chapter meets each Saturday in the Liip arena. Together we sit, write and talk about the process and issues of writing. It's a community built around the principle of motivating and encouraging the participants to write.

The problem with doing NaNoWriMo is of course time and motivation. To reach those 50'000 words, I need to write 1'667 words each day to just barely make it. Some days I write more, some less. A lot less. My worst day for this year is 189 words so far and my best 5'604. So how can I even possibly reach the goal?

Struggeling together makes it easier to reach our goals

A challenge of words

That number of words is daunting to say the least. It's a challenge, one I can rise to. The problem I've seen with those I talked to is that the notion of what written words mean is differing from the one that is in line with the spirit of the event. It doesn't mean to write finished novel words, which you could take and print the moment you have written them, but to create the very first and very rough draft. If I don't like a wording of the sentence I was just writing, I hit enter and write it again, differently, then move on. Mangled a sentence that just doesn't work? Hit enter and try again. All the words count. The backspace, delete, arrow keys and the mouse don't really exist during this phase. I might read up a couple lines above to write the next bit, but that's it. If my characters need to somehow exit the building and leave, while I don't know how exactly that should happen, then that's all I write and keep on moving forward.

The editor mindset stays in a box during November, this is purely an unadulterated word vomit. As many words, as fast as I can type.

Nobody will ever see the text that I produce during NaNoWriMo. That is just a draft. I have to edit it anyways, no matter how precise I make this first draft, editing will be needed. So why should I worry about all the details while writing the draft? I make it as messy as the prose and ideas flow from my mind. I know I have to edit it. I know there are repetitions, horrible grammar, spelling mistakes and many more sins that I will hide with editing passes, yes, multiple. During November editing just slows me down though.

Meet up, write-in

The meetings, called write-ins, help with adding words, but the majority I have to add outside of those meetings. And at the end of the month I have a lot of words, which will need editing.

Writing together in the Liip Arena

All of this mad dash for the words has an actual purpose. The push for so many words, for ignoring the editor in myself, drives towards a more specific goal, getting to the end of the story I intend to write. You see, if I start editing in between, I will start to find changes to later parts that affect earlier ones. So I go back and edit the early parts and that also changes later parts, so I end up in a death spiral of never getting done and just keep on changing the story. By disabling the entire editing process and just put words on the page, like steps on the pavement in a marathon, I actually get to the end. With the end reached, I now have an overview of the entire story and can make changes to the whole work, but much better informed.

This experience translates well into my writing at Liip. Even down to code. For me it has given me a mantra of "Make it work, then make it pretty". This was something that I knew before, but couldn't put into concise words until I participated for the first time in NaNoWriMo. The extreme of working forward to the goal, then go and clean up has expedited a lot of my coding work. If I had to make each step perfect before taking the next, I'd throw away long polished writing and code all the time, instead of throwing away quick and dirty drafts. It doesn't mean that every code I write, while I write, is a horrible mess, it just means that I embrace that mess while finding the content or solution. Once I comprehend the final solution, then I can make it into something even better.

Participate in NaNoWriMo

The diverse and welcoming community around NaNoWriMo has motivated me to write not one book, but an entire serie of them. At the moment of this posting, I wrote 3 books worth of first drafts, each one over 100'000 words long and have done about 70% of the edits on the first of these books. Without the community I would have been stuck in a repetitive cycle of edits and never gotten to the end of the story in book 1, let alone add 2 more to that.

Write with the swiss wrimos

Everyone is welcome to join us at the Liip arena, between 13:00 and 16:00 on the Saturdays in November and write your own things, be it novel, poems or a dissertation. Putting down the words and reaching the end counts. Editing is for later.

Kind of magic at Agile Lean Europe 2017 blog/ale-2017 Wed, 08 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100 Before my departure, I needed inspiration and renewed energy

When I signed up for ALE earlier this year, all I knew about this event was the format. In fact, at Liip we are having an un-conference every year – an intense time of exchanges across our five offices – and I already loved the way it enables freedom and co-creation.

Furthermore, I had been practicing the Scrum Master role for three years, mostly learning by doing, and I felt it was time for me to go « drink from the well ». I needed inspiration, renewed energy, and the least I can say is that I got more than what I was hoping for.

Each of us contributed to create the content

What makes an un-conference work so well (when well organized and facilitated of course) is the « Open Space » format it relies on. In a nutshell:

  • The audience literally creates the content. At the beginning of each day, dozens of participants come to the front and pitch their ideas for sessions. Many rooms and spaces are made available in parallel, which allows the creation of a dynamic « programme wall ». Through each the day, every attendee can then pick workshops according to his own interests.
  • Everyone is empowered to make use of the « Law of Two Feet », that is: if you ever feel you do not contribute to or learn from the session you’re in, you are free and encouraged to walk out (while minimizing disturbance, that goes without saying) and find another session that you could benefit more to and from.

It all creates a very spontaneous and lively atmosphere. You can really tell that the un-conference concept was invented by people who felt that the best moment in conferences was the coffee breaks. So much happens on-the-spot. And you really have no idea where a day will take you.

There was so much to learn from!

The event was packed with very interesting sessions. Here’s a sample:

FeatureBan with Markus Wissekal


As Scrum Master of a support-oriented team, where operational flow is especially crucial, I knew I had to attend this one. Markus Wissekal, Scrum & Kanban coach, gave us a thorough refresher on the theory of Kanban, with examples from a real-life system, followed by a hands-on game to get a feel of how it works, and most importantly why it works that way. Attendees also got a chance to ask practical questions. Some of them received very strict answers, for example: « Should we keep in a column the tasks that have been postponed by the client? » « No! Everything that can not be delivered is waste, and it pollutes the system. »

Appreciative Agile with Susanne Taylor


Suzanne Taylor works with teams to help them maximize flow and foster collaboration. Her research led her to consider a possible bridge between Appreciative Inquiry and the daily practice of Agility. The core of Appreciative Inquiry is to see value in anything that may happen (including failure), to build upon what already works, and start any discussion upon a « positive bias », that is: suspend disbelief at least until an idea has received enough time to be fully expressed. Isn’t that we all do as Scrum Masters when we facilitate a retrospective? Indeed, if as agile practitioners we do not believe in the possibility of developing and improving the positive things that are already there, how can we expect any success when leading a team in a Continuous Improvement process?

Vipassana with Pia Heinze


Agile practitioners are inherently change agents, and one can ask how you can change your (work) environment if you can not change your own self. That’s one of the reasons why Pia Heinze embarked on a very particular journey to get to know her own mental mechanisms, and change her relationship with her thoughts and emotions. Yes, we are talking about meditation. Ten days of it, cut off from any external stimulus. Even eye contact was to be avoided. Sitting down, eyes closed for essentially 10 days, Pia thought many times she was going crazy. But at the end of the process, she got to touch the notion of equanimity, that is: observe what happens without rushing to categorize it as either positive or negative (what we are trained to do since youth). Pia concludes: « I am even more emotional than before, but I am less reactive. ». She will take the Vipassa once again this year, bringing a friend along for the journey. «The brain? A great bullshit machine!».

A powerful conference that encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone

I also had loads of fun. The feeling of safety established by Silvana, the conference facilitator, was so powerful that there seemed to be no limit in trying things. The craziest was « Powerpoint Karaoke ». Yes, it is exactly what it seems and you can be scared. Unless you feel comfortable enough with the 40 persons who stayed after the day had wrapped for this unlikely session. I had to kick myself a bit to step up but that was a very liberating exercise. I improvised over 10 slides of 20 seconds each of a random deck found on the Internets. I had tears of laughter while watching others do the same.

Even more than the technique of practicing agility, these three days reminded me of the central importance of the relationship you share with your team. I got to experience how strangers become friends, thanks to safety, trust and listening. Those are the foundations. From that point on, it’s a kind of magic.

... By the way, the 2018 edition will take place in Zürich and my colleagues Christoph, Daniel and Leo are amongst the organizing team. Will I see you there?

Going on a ride with Urban Connect blog/going-on-a-ride-with-urban-connect Fri, 03 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100 Urban Connect provides complete bicycle fleet solutions for corporate clients. For example Google and Avaloq trust Urban Connect to provide fleets of e-bikes for their employees who need to move around the city. In this mobility environment, the user experience and stability of the software solution are crucial.

A successful startup

Judith Häberli founded Urban Connect in 2013. As CEO, her first concern was to test the market as soon as possible with a real product. For this reason, the team developed its initial minimum viable product. About a year later, the startup found its market and matured into an established enterprise in the mobility market. Today the proof-of-concept is achieved. Optimizing the user experience, improving the system stability, and having a better software evolutivity are the next challenges.

Urban Connect Team

On Urban Connect office’s terrace in Zürich for our partnership kick-off (from left to right): Judith (UC), Noé & Darja (Liip), Luting (UC), Jonas & Thomas (Liip) and Robert (UC).

Towards a robust and scalable software base

In order to ensure the next maturity level of the company, Urban Connect asked us to partner on the development of their product: new iOS and Android mobile applications connected to a hardware device, a new Fleet Management System, and a new API. The deadline is tight, in order to keep their customers satisfied. At Liip, we will put a strong emphasis on a flawless user journey, backed-up by a robust technical implementation. It will provide Urban Connect with the basis needed to grow during the upcoming years.

Our commitment to delight Urban Connect users

Our UX process will support Judith and her team to craft a new solution that is designed around the users. We will then develop it iteratively in order to receive user feedbacks as early as possible.
We are excited to start this new partnership as it is exactly what we love. Indeed, we like to be fully involved from the start, and to work in an entrepreneurship spirit.

Design thinking is everywhere blog/design-thinking-is-everywhere Thu, 02 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100 Design thinking is a problem solving method we use everyday!

When preparing a design thinking workshop for my colleagues, I realised that we do practice design thinking everyday as designer but often our clients don’t realise it. One of the reason, is that we don’t extensively sell our service under the name of design thinking. But it is the foundation of every step of our work. Design thinking is a method with many tools and techniques. It is often used in user experience, customer experience and service design as an output.

No matter they are small or big project, we keep the end users in the center of the solution for every project. As user experience designers, we apply these tools and techniques to projects depend on the status and the type of work. In other words, we are using design thinking method at liip without people realise it because it is the baseline in order to create great user experience.

You don’t know what to solve? Then, you are right on the track.

Business problems are complex and difficult, and often are hard to explain. It seems that there is no right solutions for them. It can be hard to know where to start and what to solve. Don’t panic! That’s a good time to start!

The discovery phase 1

We start with a discovery phase, when we empathise with the users through interviews and observation. When people are involved in a project or business for a long time, often they think that they know their customers well. However market trend changes, so do people’s preferences and lifestyle. It is important to update time to time, and reflect on what has impacted our customers and how they feel.
By analysing discovery phase, we can collect insights and problematic issues where we can bring to the next step, “defining a problem”.

role playing as a prototype

Writing a good problem statement shapes to the right ideas.

Based on the outcome of discovery phase, we can gather insights. While analysing the insights we can see a patterns and critical topics in the area. It’s time to find focus area by identifying problem statement. We start with question; how might we…… This shouldn’t be too small or too broad. We should give some space for creativity.

  • A bad example is: How might we redesign a hotel booking app for everyone to reserve accommodation. (The solution is already provided and for everyone is too broad)
  • A good example is: How might we redesign booking process for digital savvy users to integrate seamlessly in their devices. (It gives a room to explore and areas to focus)

Design thinking will show you the way how to reach to the solution!

We are living in the era when tons of information and digital solutions are available. They should be structured easy to use rather than consuming our precious time. User centered design is essential for complex problems, hence Design Thinking method is widely used in many industries.
Common mistakes are often jumping into solution quickly. We should not discuss from a feature list but questioning what is the insight and what would be the meaningful solution. In this way we can pave the way to the right direction and we will get there at the end.

Liip awarded by the Prix Balance blog/liip-awarded-prix-balance Wed, 01 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100 The Prix Balance

For the last three years, the canton of Zurich has carried out employee audits and surveys to assess their working conditions. It has received 3,673 responses to its questionnaires (1,787 from women and 1,868 from men).
The questions cover a range of topics, such as the possibility of talking about the business’s management and salary (including equal pay), whether employees can take time off work to deal with an emergency, the support the business offers to create a positive work-life balance and options for continuing training.
Among other things, the results of the survey reveal that part-time employees are more satisfied than their full-time colleagues, and that they are confident that they can adapt their working model if their personal situation changes.

A commitment to equality

“At Liip, we are also very conscious of the difficulties associated with balancing family and private life, particularly for mothers. Parental availability and paternity leave are viewed as important elements in balancing family life,” explains partner and co-founder Nadja Perroulaz. As a result, Liip invests the same amount for all new parents, which means four weeks’ paternity leave on full pay and 14 weeks’ maternity leave on full pay (eight days more than the statutory requirement). “Over half our employees work part time,” explains Nadja. We also have a transparent pay system in place that is identical for all employees, to prevent any unfair treatment in terms of salary. “We don’t intend to stop there and are examining new measures to improve staff well-being even further,” she concludes.

Liip – a high-quality employer

“At Liip, we have always been convinced of the importance of offering motivating working conditions and achieving a positive work-life balance,” says Nadja. In addition to measures to support equality, options for unpaid leave and profit sharing, the independence the teams enjoy and the options available for continuing training create a very special, highly productive atmosphere.

Selbst organisiertes Unternehmen – Fallstudie zur Einführung von Holacracy blog/selbst-organisiertes-unternehmen Mon, 30 Oct 2017 00:00:00 +0100 Dieser Artikel wurde von Gerhard Andrey und Philipp Egli Jung verfasst und ist ursprünglich in der Zeitschrift für Führung und Organisation, Ausgabe 6 2016 erschienen.

Neue Ansätze der Firmenführung werden in den Medien meist positiv besprochen. Der Blick in die Kommentarspalten zweier kürzlich veröffentlichten Online-Publikationen über Holacracy zeigt jedoch, dass es durchaus kritische Stimmen gibt. [1] Erstaunlich oft liest man sinngemäß die Kritik: »Alter Wein in neuen Schläuchen«; die Kommentierenden versuchen jedoch meist, das nicht ganz Fassbare durch einen »Filter« aus klassischen Konzepten der Unternehmensführung zu erfassen. Deshalb schimmert durch diese Kritik auch immer wieder hierarchisches Denken.
Hierarchische Organisationen haben Großartiges geleistet, stoßen aber bei der heute herrschenden Komplexität an ihre Grenzen. Das ist auch ein zentraler Punkt, der in der Diskussion von Laloux und Robertson immer wieder genannt wird. [2] Holacracy bedeutet nicht, dass es keine Struktur, keine Regeln oder keine Ordnung mehr gibt – im Gegenteil: Das Ordnungsprinzip ist nicht mehr die Machtstruktur, sondern die Art und Weise, wie Arbeit in einem Unternehmen erledigt wird. Zudem ist diese Struktur nicht mehr statisch, sondern sie wird von allen Personen, die im Unternehmen arbeiten, laufend weiterentwickelt.


Abb1: Kreise und Rollen

Ausgangslage bei Liip

Liip ist eines der führenden Schweizer Unterneh- men im Bereich Web-Applikationsentwicklung und es gab schon immer Bestrebungen, Hierarchien, wo sie unvermeidbar schienen, so flach wie möglich zu halten.
In der IT-Branche und in der Agentur-Welt gibt es hohe Anforderungen an die Innovationsfähigkeit eines Unternehmens. Durch die Projektarbeit gibt es zudem weitere organisatorische Anforderungen. Die Firma Liip ist seit jeher in zwei Sprach- und Kulturräumen angesiedelt. In der Französischen und in der Deutschen Schweiz. Dadurch steigen die Anforderungen an ein zu wählendes Managementsystem. Handlungsbedarf entstand dann vor allem durch das starke Wachstum des Unternehmens. Das bisherige System mit flachen Hierarchien skalierte nicht mehr.
Aus diesem Grund hat das Management 2013 einen Großteil der Verantwortung den Teams übertragen. Dazu wurden diese multifunktional aufgestellt. Das bedeutet, dass alle Teams alle nötigen Ressourcen und Kompetenzen zur Erledigung der täglichen Arbeit an Bord haben. Ausgenommen davon sind einige Querschnittsfunktionen wie HR, Finanzen und Kommunikation – sie stehen den Teams beratend zur Seite. Über die Strategie, Kundenakquise, eingesetzte Technologien und die Anstellung neuer Mitarbeitenden entscheiden die Teams selbst. Lediglich drei Grundsätze gilt es zu beherzigen: glückliche Kunden, glückliche Mitarbeiter und finanzielle Gesundheit.
Die Querschnittsfunktionen waren aber noch nicht klar geregelt: Sie waren oft mit einer Managementfunktion gepaart. Das führte mittelfristig zu einem Kommunikationsproblem. Viele Mitarbeiter erwarteten vom Management (trotz weitreichender Selbstbestimmung) gewisse Entscheidungen, die das Management aber gar nicht in seiner Verantwortung sah. Umgekehrt fühlten sich die Teams durch die Entscheidungen des Managements oder der Querschnittsfunktionen eingeschränkt.

Die ersten Schritte mit Holacracy

Ein weiterer Ausbau der Hierarchie auf zwei Ebenen kam nicht in Frage. Ende 2015 haben wir uns bei Liip dazu entschlossen, das Experiment zu wagen. Eine kleine Gruppe von Mitarbeitern und das Management haben die Holacracy-Practitioner-Ausbildung besucht und sich danach umgehend an die Implementierung von Holacracy gemacht.
In der Holacracy-Konstitution, momentan in der Version 4.1 verfügbar, ist das ganze System beschrieben. Die zentralen »Bausteine« von Holacracy sind Rollen (Roles) und Kreise (Circles). Sie sind die eigentlichen Holons: autark und in sich handlungsfähig, aber auch Teil des Ganzen (vgl. Abb.1). Jeder Kreis und jede Rolle hat einen Zweck (Purpose), Verantwortlichkeiten (Accountabilities), Domains und Policies. Kreis und Rolle unterscheiden sich dadurch, dass ein Kreis weitere Rollen beinhalten kann. Zudem beherbergen Kreise auch die Standardrollen: Lead Link, Rep Link, Facilitator und Secretary. Sie stellen die Funktionen des Kreises sicher.
Die Kommunikation zwischen den Kreisen ist klar geregelt und beinhaltet das Prinzip der Gewaltentrennung. Der Rep Link bringt Informationen aus dem Kreis in den übergeordneten Kreis, der Lead Link bringt die Informationen aus dem übergeordneten Kreis in den untergeordneten Kreis (vgl. Abb.1). Der Secretary dokumentiert die Entscheidungen und die Struktur des Kreises und hilft in Fragen der Auslegung der Konstitution weiter. Der Facilitator ist der Zeremonienmeister und moderiert die Meetings. Holacracy kennt zwei Meeting-Typen: An der Organisation können Mitarbeitende in den Governance Meetings arbeiten, in der Organisation wird in Tactical Meetings und im Tagesgeschäft gearbeitet.

Holacracy bietet keine Rezepte wie ein bestimmtes organisatorisches Problem gelöst werden kann, sondern lediglich Strukturelemente (Rollen und Kreise mit Verantwortlichkeiten), mit deren Hilfe eine Organisation abgebildet werden kann. Brian Robertson vergleicht Holacracy an verschiedenen Stellen mit einem Betriebssystem. [7] Die Implementierung eines spezifischen organisatorischen Problems wäre nach dieser Logik eine Applikation.

Arbeit in der Firma und an der Firma

Bei Liip haben wir uns dazu entschieden, die bestehenden Strukturen abzubilden, ohne diese vorher zu optimieren. Die Optimierung soll dann im Prozess von Holacracy selbst stattfinden.
Den äußersten Kreis bildet die Aktiengesellschaft, sie ist der juristische Mantel des Unternehmens. Der Zweck des äußern Kreises ist es, den Verpflichtungen einer AG nach Schweizer Recht zu entsprechen und die Kernwerte der Firma zu vertreten.
Innerhalb dieses Kreises ist der »General Company Circle« angesiedelt. Er enthält die Rollen und Kreise des Unternehmens. Die einzelnen Standorte sind als Kreise organisiert und somit weitgehend selbstständig. Sie beinhalten die produktiven Teams. Die Querschnittfunktionen General Administration, Personal Administration, Finances und Communication & Marketing sind ebenfalls als Kreise organisiert. Diese Kreise agieren standort- übergreifend. Wo nötig, gibt es Rollen innerhalb dieser Kreise, die mehrfach besetzt sind und einen lokalen Fokus haben.
Eine weitere Gruppe von Rollen und Kreisen bilden die Berater oder Prozessoptimierer. So gibt es dort einen Circle, der sich um die Umsetzung von Holacracy in der Firma kümmert, oder Business Developer mit besonders viel Erfahrung, die kundenorientierte Profile coachen. Momentan gibt es in der Firma 30 Kreise und 340 Rollen. Der Output ist also wirklich beachtlich.
Doch wer hat diese Struktur aufgebaut? In Holacracy ist jeder Mitarbeitende ein Partner und selbstbestimmt. Er kann im Rahmen seiner Rollen oder im Rahmen des Firmenzwecks jede Entscheidung treffen und jede Handlung durchführen, solange er nicht die Domain einer anderen Rolle oder eines anderen Kreises verletzt. Zum Informationsaustausch und zur Planung von Projekten und Aktionen nutzt er das Tactical Meeting oder tauscht sich direkt mit anderen Rollen aus.

Wenn ein Mitarbeitender während seiner Arbeit spürt, dass etwas verbessert werden kann, dann erlebt er eine Tension. Brian Robertson definiert sie als »gap between how things are and how they could be«. [8] Das Gespür der Mitarbeitenden, Ver- besserungspotenzial aus der alltäglichen Arbeit zu erkennen, hält Robertson für eine der wertvollsten Ressourcen eines Unternehmens. [9]
Lässt sich die Tension durch Informationsaustausch, ein Projekt oder eine konkrete Aktion lösen, findet dies direkt im Tagesgeschäft oder in einem Tactical Meeting statt. Betrifft die Änderung die Struktur, das heißt Rolle, Verantwortlichkeit, Kreis, Domäne oder Policy, wird sie in einem Governance Meeting gelöst. Auf diese Weise passt sich die Struktur ständig den Gegebenheiten an, optimiert sich sozusagen selbst.

Das Tal der Enttäuschung

Das Experiment war auf sechs Monate limitiert. Nach der anfänglichen Euphorie trat aber schnell Ernüchterung ein. Die Probleme waren kultureller Art und die Fronten waren festgefahren. Um mit dem gartnerschen Hype-Zyklus zu sprechen (vgl. Abb.2): Wir befanden uns im »Tal der Enttäuschung«.
Eine Umfrage, in der sich alle zum Holacracy-Experiment äußern konnten, brachte neben durchaus positiven Stimmen genügend negative zum Vorschein, die ernst genommen werden wollten: Das System sei zu bürokratisch oder zu hierarchisch. Wichtige Personen seien plötzlich in den Meetings nicht mehr eingebunden. Das System sei kalt und unpersönlich. Die Meetings dauerten zu lang.


Abb2: Die Stationen der Implementierung

Diese Reaktionen hängen wohl auch damit zusammen, dass bei Liip schon vor der Einführung von Holacracy flache Hierarchien existierten. Der positive Effekt der Selbstbestimmung wurde somit stark abgeschwächt. Eine Kollegin prägte in diesem Zusammenhang den Ausdruck »Do-acracy«. Oder anders ausgedrückt, bei Liip galt schon vor der Einführung von Holacracy folgender Grundsatz: Wer macht, hat Macht. Weiter geht Holacracy unter Umständen zu stark davon aus, dass ein Unternehmen zuvor hierarchisch organisiert war (vgl. Abb. 3). In einem bisher hierarchisch gegliederten Unternehmen erleben Mitarbeitende aus den unteren Hierarchiestufen das Mitspracherecht als Befreiung. In einem Unternehmen wie Liip, das bereits flache Hierarchien und wenig Struktur hatte, ist dieser Effekt weniger gut sichtbar. Im Gegenteil: Da Holacracy sehr viel Struktur hat, wird sie von einigen als bürokratisch oder gar hierarchisch empfunden.
Mitarbeitende bei Liip haben schon immer sehr viel unternehmerische Verantwortung übernommen. Dadurch konnten sich Personen auch »in Szene setzen« und mit ihrer Persönlichkeit Vorbildfunktion übernehmen. Gerade diese persönlichen Strukturen haben das Unternehmen Liip lange getragen. Mit der Einführung von Holacracy fällt dies nun weg. In Holacracy wird klar zwischen dem persönlichen Raum und dem Raum der Rolle unterschieden (vgl. Abb. 4). Menschen agieren nur in ihren Rollen. Das wirkt in einem Unternehmen mit einem starken sozialen Zusammenhalt zuerst befremdlich.

Der Nutzen

Diese rigide Struktur schafft aber auch die Grundlage für Transparenz und zur Vermeidung von Doppelspurigkeiten. Und genau dort liegt auch ihr Nutzen: Ein Unternehmen mit fünf Standorten und über 150 Mitarbeitern in zwei Sprach- und Kulturräumen braucht Struktur – aber eben keine starre Struktur, sondern eine Struktur, die sich potenziell täglich den Gegebenheiten anpasst. Und diesen Nutzen schafft Holacracy.
Zudem sind die Querschnittfunktionen besser geregelt. Die Teams wissen, was sie erwarten können und von welcher Rolle sie es erwarten können. Ist etwas unklar, kann es im Governance-Prozess geklärt werden. Das führt zu einer großen Entlastung für die Personen, die in diesen Funktionen tätig sind.


Abb3: So sieht Holacracy ein klassisches Unternehmen

Entscheidung können heute getroffen werden, ohne auf der Beziehungsebene Konsens zu finden oder sich im ganzen Unternehmen abzusichern. Das ist befreiend und verkürzt bereits nach einem halben Jahr »üben« Entscheidungsprozesse deutlich. So hat sich zum Beispiel in der Marketingabteilung das wöchentliche Koordinationsmeeting von anfänglich einer Stunde oder mehr vor der Einführung von Holacracy auf 15 bis 30 Minuten reduziert. Zudem ist die Firma nun wirklich ohne klassisches Management und Hierarchiedenken organisiert; ein Ziel, auf das wir lange hingearbeitet haben.


Wir mussten bei der Einführung von Holacracy schmerzhaft feststellen, dass vor allem die extreme Trennung von Person und Rolle zu Problemen führt. Bei der Einführung wurde dem zu wenig Rechnung getragen. Mittlerweile haben wir aber entsprechende Maßnahmen ergriffen: Vor allem ist es wichtig, Räume zu schaffen, in denen die Personen wieder zu Wort kommen. Wie empfinden sie die neue Struktur, wo haben sie Schwierigkeiten oder wo haben sie Fragen?


Abb4: The four Spaces

Holacracy ist nicht einfach zu verstehen und erfordert viel Denkarbeit und Konzentration von allen Beteiligten. Und es geht darum, alte Verhaltensmuster abzulegen. War früher der Chef Schuld, wenn etwas nicht geklappt hat, steht man nun selbst in der Verantwortung. Konnte man sich früher der Meinung von Kollegen mit Vorbildfunktion anschließen, muss man sich heute selbst Gedanken machen. Nach der Transaktionsanalyse von Berners muss man sich von ungesunden Eltern-Kind-Mustern lösen und erwachsen werden. Das trifft umgekehrt natürlich auch auf ehemalige Kader zu. Robertson verwendet die Archetypen aus dem Dramadreieck: der Retter, der Verfolger oder das Opfer. Sie sind beliebte Rollen und Vehikel der Selbstdefinition bei Mitarbeitern und beim Kader. [10] Die Arbeit mit Holacracy ist die Arbeit jedes Einzelnen an sich selbst. Es kann kein integrales Unternehmen geben ohne Menschen, die sich auf den Weg machen, ganzheitlich zu denken. Und das beinhaltet eben auch, das eigene Ego im Unternehmen zurückzustellen.


[1] Vgl. Hockling, S.: So kommen Mitarbeiter aus der Hierarchie heraus. In: Die Zeit Online. (, (letzter Zugriff: 22.7.2016); Saheb, A.: Arbeiten ohne Chef und Hierarchie. In: NZZ Online, (, (letzter Zugriff: 22.7.2016).
[2] Cowan, C.: Five Critiques of Holacracy – Brian Robertson and Frédéric Laloux discuss the case against alternative governance models, (https://blog.holacracy. org), (letzter Zugriff: 24.7.2016).
[3] Koestler, A.: The Ghost in the Machine, Neuauflage, London 1989.
[4] Wilber, K.: Eine kurze Geschichte des Kosmos, Frankfurt a. M. 1997, S. 40 ff.
[5] Wilber, K.: Integrale Vision: Eine kurze Geschichte der integralen Spiritualität. München 2009, S. 112 f.
[6] Laloux, Frederic: Reinventing Organizations: Ein Leitfaden zur Gestaltung sinnstiftender Formen der Zusammenarbeit, München 2015.
[7] Vgl. Robertson, B. J.: Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World, New York 2015, Kapitel 1.
[8] Robertson, B. J.: Holacracy, a. a. O.
[9] Robertson, Brian J.: Processing Tensions, (, (letzter Zugriff: 22.7.2016).
[10] Vgl. Laloux, F.: Reinventing Organizations, a. a. O., S. 145 f.

The 5 Most Common Questions I Hear About Self-Organization blog/5-common-questions-hear-self-organization Tue, 24 Oct 2017 00:00:00 +0200 1. Is everyone willing and able to work this way?

The simple answer: I guess so. We don't offer anything else anymore and it seems to work for all of my colleagues.

A more reflected response might be: Look at our private lives. We are perfectly capable of taking huge decisions by ourselves. We start families or sign big and long term mortgage contracts. Of course some do it better and easier than others. Nevertheless at the end of the day almost everybody by themselves. So why is it that we think employees cannot do this in the professional context? I'm amazed by how little trust some companies give their employees and force them to approve even small amounts of money they think needs to be spent. This example is one of the many signs of mistrust and a missed opportunity. If you want to be trusted as a company you have to trust your employees first. Not the other way around. I can only encourage companies to let go and trust their employees. Give them good tools to take the best decisions possible and let them do so. More independent minds will take bolder decisions than others. And at times when a bad decision was made, think of the money you saved for the non-existent bureaucracy.

2. But what if things goes south, mustn't there be a boss?

Yes, things go south. We make errors, everyone does and should now and then. And if you don't, you don't innovate anyway. Does this mean that one single person – usually a CEO – has to take responsibility for every decision taken? I'd say no. If we only talk about errors and bad decisions but not illegal behavior, THE ONE AND ULTIMATE RESPONSIBLE is not needed; but many. The idea of the all knowing and all anticipating hero is only kept up to justify overwhelmingly high monetary compensation; and this kind of heroes doesn't exist anyway. Of course we owe stakeholders to act in the best interest of the company. But we all do, not only CEOs. So we prefer to live a culture of trust and goodwill and not “safe my ass behavior” and politics.

We also found a way to deal with the interests of shareholders: We see them as landlords giving away a building for a reasonable rent. Shareholders don't interfere with what's happening within the building as long as it's used how it's meant to be. And if good money is generated within, renters can do what they want with it. The rent has to be paid first of course. A rent that covers the capital costs and the risks taken by the shareholders. So in that sense Liip is this building and Liipers are the renters. The rent is the dividend and the money made on top of that the bonus for every renter. Usually a 14th salary for everyone; that's our current objective. If Liipers are not able to pay the rent, that's the risk we take as shareholders as we would as landlords.

3. What about careers, how do I get ahead?

You won't become boss of anyone at Liip.

Of course the consequence of not having traditional hierarchies anymore, changes the way we look at careers. We don't offer this concept because we don't see an added value to it. We prefer to put everyone in charge and trust them rather than relying on “managers”. If you want to get ahead you can do this by getting better in your domain. You might then fill roles that have more impact. And this also gives you personal boost and recognition. A role gets you a good title, but you won't be able to rule over others and tell them what to do, or how.

I'm also quite sure that this inexistent career pressure frees Liipers to reduce their workload to better arrange their private with their professional life. Half of all Liipers work part time. This is quite rare for Swiss private companies.

4. You don't have money spending control, do you have a money printing machine?

Quite the opposite. We earn every Swiss Franc by performing valuable services for our clients. So it's the time spent on projects we can bill to them, there is no other revenue stream. And yes, there is serious competition.

By letting everyone in the company spend money if it serves the role/s they are in, we put people in charge. So automatically Liipers seek advice before spending money. Because they know they cannot hide behind a superior or a budget given months ago. This not only frees all employees and reduces bureaucracy drastically, it leads to better decisions. Of course transparency about our performance is crucial. Everyone has access to the company's numbers. And in an understandable way also for non accounting experts: We use the number of salaries the company can afford to pay over the past 12 months and over all forecasts of our current projects. If you see that we are at let's say 13.1 salaries (we contractually guarantee 13 salaries as employer) it might not even come to your mind to spend a lot of money on something not very important. When we are at 14.6 though, it might be a good moment to make investments or work on an innovation project. Nice side-effect: we don't need budgets anymore.

Of course it helps that we are self-owned. Almost half of the staff is also co-owner of the company. So there are no shareholders without a job at Liip.

5. How do you define salaries?

Right now we use a system we developed a while ago. It's based on “objective” parameters like education, experience plus soft skills and peer feedback. So called “Salary Determiners” —an ordinary Holacracy ® role— transform this information into numbers. These are then used to calculate one's salary. As you can imagine there is a bit of a paternalistic component in this process. We try to get rid of that and would like to establish a salary system that integrates even better with the Holacracy ® model. Even though we would still want part of the salary that is based on those classic parameters, I personally would like to experiment with badges for achievements, and connect those to a wage scale. HolacracyOne – the company behind Holacracy ® – defined an interesting concept: badges are given to others by the ones already having a specific badge. This ensures that badges don't lose value and enables domain experts to review their respective colleagues. More participatory or even democratic approaches don't seem to be healthy for the salary context, I guess. In any case not efficient.

What FAQ come to your mind? Let me know by leaving a comment!