Holacracy: Annotated Bibliography


1. Insight, Z. (2022, January 1). Holacracy & Self-organization: About: Zappos Insights. Holacracy & Self-Organization | About | Zappos Insights, from, https://www.zapposinsights.com/about/holacracy

Holacracy is a collection of rules and processes, checks and balances, and standards that an organization may utilize to help it become self-managed and self-organized. It allows all employees (rather than just management) to innovate, make changes, and have a voice. Zappos has been formally adopting Holacracies since January of 2014, but our experiences with it have remained mostly unknown to the outside world. We will provide insights into our personal achievements and failures, as well as what we have learnt over the years. “Holacracy is like an operating system for your organization. It is a predefined set of rules and processes, checks and balances, and guidelines that an organization can use to help them become self-managed and self-organized by giving every employee (instead of just management) the power to innovate, make changes, and have a voice” (Zappos, 2022 para 3).

2. Janine Morgan, J. (2021, December 10). The 5 types of organizational structures: Part 5, Holacratic Organizations. Forbes, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2015/07/20/the-5-types-of-organizational-structures-part-5-holacratic-organizations/?sh=689e628948a2

After Zappos announced that they would be transitioning to a new working paradigm, holacracy gained a lot of popularity. The main purpose of this structure is to enable dispersed decision making while allowing everyone to focus on what they do best. Decentralized decision making does not need a completely new organizational structure to thrive in. It can happen just as readily in a flatter structure that can use part of its current infrastructure. “Sometimes ripping out the engine and starting from scratch isn’t always as an option, especially as the car is moving, like most organizations always are” (Morgan, 2015 para 4).

3. Institute, C. F. (2021, February 25). Holacracy. Corporate Finance Institute. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from, https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/strategy/holacracy/

Holacracy is based on a system of flexibility and independence to benefit the company as a whole. It works because one person may take on many jobs, potentially saving money on recruiting. Employees can gain experience in a larger range of employment responsibilities, strengthen abilities that might otherwise go unutilized, and increase their human capital. Governance is done separately inside each circle, and regulations are written and changed on a regular basis. The operational component focuses on arranging teams to best meet the operational demands of the business and ensuring that each team operates successfully and efficiently. “The term holarchy originated from the book “The Ghost in the Machine,” published in 1967 by Arthur Koestler. The term refers to the connection between holons, which are both a part of a whole, and a whole itself” (CFI, 2015 para 2).

4. Hamel, G., & Bernstein, E. (2016, June 20). Beyond the holacracy hype. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from https://hbr.org/2016/07/beyond-the-holacracy-hype

Self-organization will become important tools for businesses of all sizes, but there are serious hurdles in adopting the strategy wholesale. Using self-management across a whole organization to establish what should be done is difficult, unpredictable labor that will not pay off in many situations. Medium, a social media firm that recently ditched holacracy, discovered that it was impossible to coordinate activities at scale. “All organizations must achieve both reliability and adaptability to some degree, but usually one eclipses the other” (Hamel, Bernstein, 2016 para 7).

5. DeAngelo, M. (2017, October 4). The HOLACRACY experiment in Washington Government. Medium. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from https://medium.com/@deangelo/the-holacracy-experiment-in-washington-government-628c17a5a5e

Self-management instills a great deal of worry and terror in government. Holacracy and other self-management models lack actual scientific evidence that they are superior to hierarchies. How will the general people react to this sort of change? Will they applaud or condemn a government that is attempting to innovate and transform? Holacracy enhanced outcomes for the relatively modest number of persons in our early test groups. Success in a very small team of roughly 20 people does not imply that it can be replicated in considerably bigger companies. There is a danger that the experiment’s findings may not live up to the hype, but the potential upside is worth exploring. The hardest part is making the choice to act; the rest is just persistence. “As a government agency, the idea of self-management creates a lot of anxiety and fear” (DeAngelo, 2017 para 4).

6. Verma, Y. V. (2016, May 6). Holacracy – crazy, brilliant, disastrous? or a blend of all! Business Today. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from https://www.businesstoday.in/opinion/columns/story/holacracy-crazy-brilliant-disastrous-or-a-blend-of-all-62930-2016-05-06

Holarchy is a hierarchical structure of self-regulating holons that may serve as autonomous wholes as well as dependent pieces. Holacrats have functions rather than job titles, which allows them to be autonomous. The Holacracy method is thought to have been adopted by numerous for-profit and non-profit organizations in Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. “Holacracy pertains to a quick review, in which everyone is involved in the project discussing issues or red flags or tensions that could come in way of completing the project” (Verma, 2016 para 4).

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