Self-organization has many faces and can be implemented in a wide variety of ways in the company. Two possibilities are holacracy and sociocracy, which I want to highlight in this article. I get a lot of questions from entrepreneurs who ask me whether I know companies that still implement this. Of course, I know some startups that deal with it successfully, but I don’t know any traditional and established companies that still use it. In the following I would like to tell you why.

What is Sociocracy and Holocracy?

My own experience

I myself was able to attend a holacracy in 2016 and the frameworks were discussed and tried out in my roundtables as part of my research.

Unfortunately, my holacracy crashed after a few weeks. Especially egos in the company and employees who work according to regulations do not fit this framework. One often experiences a standstill when the management team has been really discussing again. Furthermore, in my opinion, many employees also long for a specific boss – a doer and announcer. “No, my boss has to decide that” …. For me as an IT consultant, too, it was often too slow because I was dependent on decisions.

Not every employee wants to decide everything and actively participate

Other companies fared similarly

In the round table, my more than 20 practice partners told me that all attempts to use the methods had been abolished by 2018. It just doesn’t fit the morale of companies and maybe a part of us Germans. It makes more sense to give motivated employees freedom and to assign other hard-working employees clear processes and tasks.

The main problems were that holacracy was very slow, even very bureaucratic. It was very tedious to include every opinion. I believe that it is because many employees have to get used to how it is to participate in decisions. That also means making compromises. Furthermore, according to my practice partners, they simply had no desire to participate. You wanted to do a specific job and do it properly and neatly.

The approaches are certainly good ideas, but it simply does not reflect the current mindsets of many employees and the structures that we are used to. In the end, the goal of companies is still to make money.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, none of the companies around me tried out the models of sociocracy and holacracy. Less radical models such as the Spotify model, which hybridly combines classic and agile methods and leaves room for every type of employee, are often preferred. I think that as a company under capitalism and with the most varied of characters and attitudes of employees, we need methods that are rather diverse. I don’t think the two concepts are versatile enough.

Reading tip: Spotify model in established companies

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Author

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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