Brokerage Ops the April 2015 issue

Holacracy. Really?

We owe it to ourselves to at least understand how it works and what its impact may be.
By Ken Crerar Posted on March 25, 2015

Raise your hand if your office is a stable environment where every employee is ranked by title and their oversight extends a level or two below them. At the end of the day, you create products to solve problems for your customers. 

Perfect. You have a solid business plan that has worked for years and has made a lot of money for a lot of companies. But I caution you not to get (or stay) comfortable.

A new-age business model is right around the corner—actually, for some of the smartest companies, it’s already in place—and it’s effectively displacing the old top-to-bottom command approach. It’s a new operating system for structuring and running an organization called Holacracy.

Holacracy is a different way to organize people and talent, a faster way to share ideas and resources, and a more active way to communicate and keep up with the accelerating pace of change. If responsiveness is a core tenet of successful organizations, then the idea of Holacracy has it right.

I haven’t totally bought into Holacracy just yet, but I am taking a hard look at its concept and embracing this continued movement of change. Whether it’s a true fit for my organization or yours, we owe it to ourselves to at least understand how it works and what its impact may be. Because there’s no two ways about it—rigid companies that desire a static world are destined to go by the wayside.

If responsiveness is a core tenet of successful organizations, then the idea of Holacracy has it right.

This month’s magazine, dedicated to the intricacies of mergers and acquisitions, is really a discussion about the strategic vision you have for your organization. How adaptive are you? And how adaptive do you anticipate being in five years? In 10?

Think back just a few decades ago to the nation’s top brokerages. Many of them are now gone. Topping today’s list are new names that came out of nowhere and some old names that 20 years ago barely made the top 300.

What’s driving the change? People.

Leaders who have a vision and the capital to build an organization. People who can motivate others and know how to serve a client. It takes insight, risk, flexibility and determination. It takes a Holacracy, whether you call it that or not.

If your only focus is on what you do well, then you should probably read this issue pretty closely.

If your senior management team has looked the same for 20 years and the number of pain-in-the-neck millennial employees in your office is low, then read this issue with a keen eye.

If thoughts of management training, employee development and aggressive recruiting are not on your agenda, then our M&A Executive Report will offer some insight.

Adam Pisoni, co-founder of the collaborative software company Yammer, is the brainchild behind Holacracy. He explained it this way in a recent Business Insider article: While at Yammer, he had 200 people under him and with those people came time-consuming responsibilities in the form of HR, facilities and the like. He wasn’t the right guy for all of those other things, but they fell on his plate because he was the boss. “In a holacratic organization, the people who are best at those jobs would take them and be accountable for the results.”

If you think our industry is different from others, think again. The one constant to remember is that the environment changes quickly from every angle—people, capital, expertise, product and need—and it’s up to you to keep pace. In this world of instant information and constant disruption, your days and nights should be spent thinking about new and faster ways to keep and expand your customer base by producing what they want and how they want it.

So check out our special M&A issue, think about where you are and where you want to be, and consider structuring a Holacracy, or something like it, with the people you have on your team. The more nimble you can become now, the more opportunities you will have later.

Ken Crerar President & CEO, The Council Read More

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