Holacracy is described as a new operating system 1 for evolution-powered organizations. It’s a punchy analogy which people understand. What people seem to forget is this: The operating system as a metaphor requires people to execute the programming code, but people aren’t microprocessors. This might seem like playing with words, but metaphors both reflect and influence our thinking. There is always a cost in trying to script people’s behavior. They might decide to withdraw their engagement. What if the organization is a living system, and not a computer?
Notes (added 17 April 2016):
1 HolacracyOne’s web page where Holacracy is described as a new operating system no longer exists. However, a description of Holacracy as “a comprehensive new operating system” can also be found in Brian Robertson’s book on Holacracy. See Brian Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy, (Penguin, 2015), p. 12.
Book review: Holacracy
Metaphors both reflect and influence our thinking
Language of rules & policies vs. agreements
Self-organization is the real operating system
Emergence is simply what life does
Empowerment is a red herring
Pre-conditions for self-organization
What if the organization is a living system?
Facilitating an Open Space
How to enable and sustain self-organization
TEDxTalk on Open Space Technology