Holacracy: towards autonomous and full teams

Andres Silva at Arbusta - Holocracy

What are the advantages of evolving towards holacratic models of organizational management?  How do we accompany organizations to enhance trust and the development of more autonomous, agile and adaptive teams?  How do we empower leaders in that transition?  What do organizations have to do to adapt to the complexities that we are going through?

These were some of the questions that Andrés Silva Chaves sought to answer in a virtual talk with the Arbusta team on August 14.  Silva Chaves is a Paraguayan entrepreneur and founding partner of 3 ventures: Okara, the Teletón Foundation, and Technoma.  Eighty Arbusta collaborators participated in the talk from their homes in Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay.  Under the title “Team Leadership: Adaptive, evolutionary and agile processes in new times”, the consultant shared with our teams his main learnings from his experiences in implementing the management system known as holacracy.

In the first minutes of the talk, Andrés Silva Chaves -who collaborated with Arbusta in its first steps towards the adoption of this model- began by introducing the benefits of daring to try solutions that put traditional organization charts in check.  Moreover, Silva Chaves re-emphasized the importance of initiating these transformations in a context as complex as the one that we are currently going through in 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic.

“Never have the global and the local become as latent as today.  The radical change that COVID-19 has brought with it, has made the transformations that we were already experiencing and preparing for, even more evident ”, he explained.  He added: “In the current scenario, those who endeavor to find new perspectives and approaches to the world around us are vital.”  And, according to the entrepreneur, one of these new approaches is holacracy.


Created by Brian Robertson, founder of Ternary Software, holacracy is a management system that is based on different premises.  Holacracy proposes an evolution of the traditional organization chart towards more dynamic and flexible structures, that seek to organize tasks instead of people; and are thought in terms of roles necessary to achieve objectives, rather than job titles.  Holacracy starts from the premise of giving the maximum possible autonomy to collaborators.  As Emiliano Fazio, founding partner of Arbusta, mentioned: “Holacracy is based on self-management, developing the full potential of the people who are part of the organization, and the evolutionary purpose”.

Organizational models - Holacracy
“The self-management proposed by holacracy confronts us with something very challenging that has to do with an almost radical belief that people can resolve what they need to resolve with high levels of autonomy,” Silva Chaves summarized.  But this freedom only works if clear limits are established.  “In order to succeed, as in any soccer game, the boundaries of the  soccer field have to be  clearly marked,” added the entrepreneur.

“Holacracy implies a radical belief in the ability of people to autonomously resolve challenges”

Contrary to what may be expected, in holacracy the results are not left out of the picture.  Rather, they function as part of the engine that powers the system.  In fact, this model seeks to enable organizations to react more quickly to external changes and, therefore take advantage of scenarios as fluctuating as current ones.

It is in this point that the self-demanding nature of each collaborator comes into play and becomes fundamental.  For this approach to work and in order for each person to achieve their full potential, holacracy proposes to provide each person with a safe space.  “Holacracy is a system that allows the configuring of an organization structure in a way that, by default, the empowerment of collaborators is already established. Moreover, I invite people not to use the term ‘empowerment’ because this forces us to ask ourselves: “where does this term situate me as a leader and where does it place the collaborator?  I think in terms of a leadership that acts more like a team of gardeners than like main characters in a play ”, summarized Silva Chaves.


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