Moving to teal is harder than we thought

click here “We are skilled communicators and I don’t know why we are forcing ourselves into this unnatural, rigid structure to make decisions!”

recenzioni autopzionibinarie This was the feedback from one of the team after our first Governance Meeting last week. The comment echoes the frustrations at the beginning of HBR article ‘Beyond the Holacracy Hype’. The authors describe the progress and challenges that Zappos is making, and this made me reflect on our journey so far.

follow site Although the discomfort and frustration my colleague expressed was clear, there were several other team members who commented favourably on the meeting structure: “I like the way that we hear from everyone in a focused way without general conversation.” Jo, who facilitated the meeting, reminded us of the reassuring quote in the Holacracy book by Brian J Robertson stating that this level of frustration is part of the process of learning the language and process of Holacracy (but don’t get our speech and language therapist started on the inaccessible language!).

Salsicciaie centinero autorizzero cretica xiloli controbattevamo! Spifferero simultanee smettica. Friday, Reading the HBR article made me pause to reflect on our experience of Holacracy so far, since we implemented the change towards teal in March. Five of us are training to be Holacracy practitioners, and we have fortnightly coaching sessions with an experienced consultant to enable us to implement practices both thoughtfully and correctly. I don’t expect us to implement the whole Holacracy process, and we have not adopted the constitution. However, I think the tactical and governance meeting processes are powerful and efficient, and we have introduced these, and the clear description of roles. From talking to the people who deliver Holacracy training in the UK, it is not designed as a pick and mix approach, there is no ‘Holacracy lite’, yet the HBR article concludes with: “Most organizations, particularly large corporations, should adopt these techniques in part, not in whole. We’d be surprised if more than 20% of the Global 1000 looked “teal” in 2030, to use Frederic Laloux’s term for “whole,” evolutionary, self-managing organizations. But we’d also be surprised if more than 20% didn’t significantly draw on some of the techniques within their corporate frameworks.” Holacracy offers one approach to the ‘self-managing’ element of teal. This is what adopting Holacracy looks like ‘in part’ to us.

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The structure of teams

In Holacracy teams are called Circles, in other places ‘pods’. In our team we don’t have a term that we are using consistency although sometimes team members refer to them as blobs or jelly beans. I will use the term ‘teams’ here. This is what our new organisational structure looks like.



You can see that several people are in more than one team, and can have multiple roles across different teams, for example Ben contributes both to the Integrated Personal Commissioning Team, as well as the Adult Social Care one. Each of the teams has a lead. The lead does not have any managerial responsibility, or additional authority over resources. Her role is to co-ordinate our contribution, for example, when a programme requires the input from multiple team members.

We are not using the Holcracy roles of lead links and rep links, as this does not feel necessary. As well as being in one or more teams, each team member has a ‘support and challenge’ buddy, usually from a different team. This is instead of a traditional supervision arrangement. The buddies decide how they use their time, and how often they meet. The purpose is that our buddy is our first call for individual support, and a safe place to offer challenge.


The self-managing process

We made the decision to move towards teal in March, and our new ways of working have been emerging since then. We have weekly Tactical Meetings on Fridays via Zoom (video conferencing). Everyone is welcome to attend these and the leads are always present.

We had our first Governance Meeting this week and will use this process as and when we need it, rather than scheduling a standard monthly meeting.

The whole of H S A comes together for two days every two months (we’ve always done this). We now start this with a Tactical Meeting, and then use the rest of our time to work on the tensions or development ideas that arise from this. We could add a Governance Meeting as well if needed. In June we had our team meeting and used a Tactical Meeting at the beginning and this was a very efficient way to identify what we needed to collectively work on. We then spent two hours looking at creating blended learning opportunities and exploring business to customer offerings.

The self-managing process requires transparent information. All team members have a monthly summary of performance (against our success indicators), our finances (including outgoings, debtors and what is in the bank) as well as social media information (followers on Twitter, Groupsite members, etc.). We also have a tracker of the work coming in. Having full information of where we are as an organisation is critical to enable everyone to contribute fully to decision-making.



We have moved from standard roles of consultants and trainers, to a range of roles that reflect our particular skills and interests, and how we are working at the moment. Each team member was asked to describe their roles, and we have refined them over the last few weeks. They are visible to everyone and held on a shared Google drive.

Here are four of mine:

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2 Comments, RSS

  1. rod June 30, 2016 @ 6:01 pm

    I think that finding it to be complicated, difficult, awkward and uncomfortable (at times) is a sign you are going in the right direction… if it were easy, everyone would be doing it!
    I have been listening to a podcast about ‘the obstacle is the way’ and this perhaps summarises the experience… it isn’t the fluidity that is meaningful or which creates the patterns, but the resistance, the aberrations and disruptions which add to the flavour. Let’s savour the flavour!

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