What is Holacracy®?
Holacracy is a practice of self-management for organizations, that has been developed by Brian Robertson with his company HolacracyOne since 2007. It is a wholesale replacement of classic top-down management hierarchy. The overarching purpose of the organization is broken-down into its sub-components and expressed as a series of nested circles, roles and accountatbilities. Roles and circles are authorized to make autonomous decisions about how they want to express their part of the overall purpose.
The larger degree of freedom within such a structure necessitates a higher degree of discipline while working together. Every circle holds two types of meetings as prescribed by the Holacracy Constitution (the rulebook): “Tactical” and “Governance” meetings which are led by an elected facilitator. The Tactical meeting helps to synchronize the daily operations, while a Governance meeting is an opportunity to fine-tune general expectations such as the structure of circles, roles and accountabilities on a recurring basis. This way the self-imposed structures stay flexible and relevant in the light of recent needs and developments. People usually fill several roles for the organization, sometimes in several circles.
My Holacracy Services
Holacracy® Taster Workshops
Holacracy Taster Workshops are the best way to get a sense for the practice in an hands-on experiential way. You can read a lot about Holacracy but some things you just have to try out, to be able to judge them for yourself.
Taster Workshops (public or inhouse) include live simulations of both Tactical and Governance meetings, in which you can test-drive the practice. Hop on board and give it a spin!
Inspirational Holacracy® Talks
How do you organize work without managers? How can you master the current challenges of the new world of work with the help of Holacracy? How do you distribute authority effectively? How do you align work around an organizational purpose and what are the benefits?
Sometimes you need an inspiration from the outside to ignite the desire for change.
You can try to teach yourself how to play the guitar – or you can go and get a guitar-teacher, so that you don’t have to make all the common mistakes by yourself.
As a certified Holacracy® Coach I help organizations to adopt Holacracy. I also support existing adoptions via facilitation, shadowing and offering answers to the most common questions that arise along the path of practice.
German Companies Practicing Holacracy
- Hypoport SE
- Hypoport hub SE
- Smart InsurTech
- Dr. Klein Privatkunden AG
- Dr. Klein Ratenkredite
Other Examples From Germany:
- rising systems
- Ostec GmbH
- Vattenfall (Batteries team)
- MYCS GmbH
- Me & Company
My journey with Holacracy
My journey with Holacracy started in 2006 during an encounter with the Holacracy pioneer Brian Robertson while I volunteered for the Integral Institute in Boulder. He had recently developed the practice in the context of his software company and now presented it under the name “Holacracy” as a new kind of operating system for organizations.
I was totally fascinated by the amount of clarity, the alignment around a purpose, the peer-to-peer relation of co-workers, the holarchic structure of the circles, as well as the highly efficient meetings and decision-making processes. At that time Holacracy appeared to me to be the first truly “integral” kind of organizational structure that worked and made sense. Back then I wasn’t much into the business-world (more into philosophy), but this practice sounded like a way I wanted to work.
Soon after, in my function as CEO of Integrales Forum, I invited Brian with his newly founded company HolacracyOne and his co-founders Tom Thomison and Alexia Bowers to do a keynote at our annual conference as the start of a whole workshop tour through Germany. It turned out to be the first appearance of HolacracyOne in Europe, at a time when the practice of Holacracy was still entirely unknown. Also see the blogpost by Brian Robertson, “History of Holacracy“.
Myself, Tom Thomison, Brian Robertson and Alexia Bowers on the German Holacracy tour in 2008
Experiments with Holacracy in the Integral Context
During the workshop tour through various German cities I had the privilege and the opportunity to learn Holacracy directly from its inventors – while I translated the workshops to German in a consecutive fashion. In 2009, HolacracyOne sponsored a seat for me at the Holacracy Facilitator training (as it was called back then) in the Netherlands. My first experiment with Holacracy took place in the context of my own organization, Integrales Forum, but remained somewhat incomplete due to my lack of practical experience (Governance meetings were missing).
2013 I left Integrales Forum in order to organize the first Integral European Conference in 2014. The conference team was able to benefit from the practice of Holacracy. They appreciated the Tactical meeting format as well as the high degree of role clarity.
Intensive Holacracy Practice at encode.org
After I had organized the second IEC in 2018 I joined the organization encode.org. Due to my good connection to HolacracyOne co-cofounder Tom Thomison he generously enabled me to take part in a Holacracy Coach training in Amsterdam. Tom was looking for new partners that were a good fit for his new organization encode.org. Similar to HolacracyOne, encode.org was created to be a living laboratory for new ways of working to be developed in a experiment-and-adapt fashion.
It tackled the topics that Holacracy was silent about: What about the people? What about the legal container? If there are no more managers, why are there still two classes – owners and employees? How can the power-shift that is facilitated by Holacracy be translated into new legal, financial, and social templates?
The answer encode.org came up with was the development of the For-Purpose-Enterprise (FPE) with explicit rule-sets for the containers Organization (the work, organized with Holacracy), Association (community) and Company (ownership, the legal and financial framework). I reported about our experiences for encode.org in these blog posts: “How to Work, Earn, and Live on Purpose” & “Parallel Work Universes Exist“.
At encode.org I was able to benefit from the experience of Holacracy Master Coaches and former HolacracyOne partners and finally live and learn the practice as it was meant to be. Alongside of that I completed my Holacracy Coach certification successfully in 2018.
Practice in the Context of a Network of Companies: Hypoport SE
From 2018 – 2021 I practiced Holacracy in the context of Hypoport, a network of companies in the credit-, real-estate- and isurance-industry with over 15 subsidiary companies and over 2.000 employees, listed in the German stock market (S-DAX).
Together with my colleagues in the hola::be-circle I was one of four internal Holacracy coaches, who supported 7 companies who have adopted Holacracy or were in the process of it. This was a rare and unique opportunity to learn from the experiences at the intersection of a joint but diverse practice of Holacracy. I gave taster workshops, taught internal practitioner trainings (5 days), offered coaching, facilitation and supervision, lead learning groups for core roles, as well as did research and development work to further develop and optimize the practice. An exciting didactical innovation we developed in 2020 were new language conventions and new facilitation cards for Governance and Tactical meetings.
Xpreneurs: working for an official Holacracy® Provider
Since 2021 I mainly works as Holacracy Master Coach for the Swiss Company Xpreneurs with my colleagues Patrick Scheuerer, Eleonora Weisstroffer, Tobias Klose and Annika Bock. With the help of Holacracy we accompany organizations on their transformational journey towards greater clarity, responsibility, transparency and purpose-alignment.
"Dennis embodies one of the most important traits of an entrepreneur: tenacity. I've witnessed Dennis over almost a decade remain committed to his vision and expression of purpose. Over the course of time and in spite of significant challenges he has steadfastly applied his thoughtful intellect to birth newness and novelty into the world. As a 30 year entrepreneur, I admire Dennis for his entrepreneurial spirit."
– Tom Thomison, Partner, HolacracyOne & encode.org.
"I know Dennis Wittrock since 2004 and it has always been a delight to work with him. His expertise in integral theory and practice - e.g. his deep understanding and application of Holacracy is really putting organizational workflows to a whole new level."
– Alistair Langer, Marketing – Coaching – Consulting, reducing complexity.
"When Dennis is clear on a goal or purpose, he is able to pull all resources together that are needed. He then pursues his ambition with high energy, patience, intelligence as well as great ideas and networking skills. He is a very open, honest and responsible person that other people trust."
-Anke Lessmann – Founder, bewusstes unternehmen. Previously Senior Consultant, Gallup.
"Dennis is a supersmart brain with an open heart, which is a combination you will not find on each street corner. I got to know him as an advisor to my own start up, and had the chance to enjoy his flexible mind, deep knowledge on organisational dynamics and multidisciplinary thinking first hand. His dedication to truly support the things that catch his attention is remarkable."
– Raoul Pilcicki Founder and Partner, NAMENAME Design Consultancy.