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The heck with Kaizen, Kaikaku your Hierarchy!!

Picture showing samurai warrior

Many organizations spend a fortune on Lean programs to improve business operations for their customers. Although well-intentioned, the benefits of these efforts sometimes go unrealized because there’s an unspoken reality: the way most organizations govern and make decisions is fundamentally anti-lean and undermines efforts to create ongoing, improved value for customers. Here, I’d like to discuss these forms of waste and how to reduce or even eliminate them in Holacracy.

What we've learned from our Holacracy experience (so far)

Image of a page from the book "What do you do with an idea?" by Kobi YamadaThe Office of the CIO has been operating with the Holacracy self-organizing model for part of the organization since February of 2015. On July 1st the same year, a law passed that consolidates our office with two other organizations in state government now known as Washington Technology Solutions (WaTech). This transition provides a great opportunity for a Holacracy retrospective over the past five months and a kickoff for the next phase of Holacracy in Washington government.

Holacracy in a represented workforce – Part 2

Picture of Washington Ferry

In the previous post, “Holacracy in a represented workforce – Part 1," I outlined three key questions identified as important to developing a workable Holocracy governance model for public sector that also takes into account the unique needs of employees represented by unions. The topic was explored in a discussion between Glen Christopherson, the HR Policy Director for the State of Washington, who has logged a lot of time negotiating labor issues with Unions;  Mark Lyon from the Attorney General's Office, who has 20 years of experience in Union representation;  Michael Cockrill, the State Chief Information Officer;  Karilen Mays, the OCIO's assigned Holacracy Coach from HolacracyOne; Brian Robertson, the co-founder of Holacracy, and myself.

In addition to raising the questions, our group also attempted a first-pass at potential answers to these challenges. Although no one at the table believed these were the final answers to the questions or even that these were the final questions, there was general consensus that the concept of Holacracy in a represented environment is intriguing and, most importantly, plausible given the right leadership and thinking.

Holacracy in a represented workforce – Part 1

"If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got."
- Albert Einstein

One of the questions that immediately came to my mind as I thought about the possibilities of a workable Holacracy governance model for public sector was, “Could a Holacracy coexist with a represented workforce?” When I first began learning about Holacracy, I heard things like “there are no managers" in this management system. And if there are no managers, I wondered, then who would negotiate with the Unions, which currently play such a prominent role for government employees in many sectors? Is it the case that no one is represented by the Union in a Holacracy, or is everyone represented? When I asked Brian Robertson, the co-founder of Holacracy, if there were any implementations of Holacracy in a represented environment, he said “Nope, you would be the first.” To which I responded, “Excellent, I love that position!”

Why Holacracy?

One obvious question is: “Why is the Office of the CIO looking into Holacracy?”. Although Holacracy by itself is intriguing, it fits into a larger strategy.  In this post, I talk about the challenge Washington government has with recruitment and retention and lay out a strategy that can solve that problem with the help of Holacracy.

Holacracy in Government!

In February, the Office of the CIO began implementing Holacracy. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first implementation of Holacracy in a United States government organization. Over the next several months my office will be implementing Holacracy as a type of experiment to: 1) understand this type of organizational model and 2) identify if there are unique challenges with implementing Holacracy in government. I plan on blogging about the implementation; describing Holacracy, why we’re implementing Holacracy, barriers to adoption that are unique to Government, and just generally the experience and learning from the perspective as a Government leader.