Human First Holacracy

Human First Holacracy

Dec 21, 2020

By: Dianne Dickerson

I’m a long-time organizational nerd. Even as a kid, I was fascinated by the ways humans organized themselves to get work done. In 2012, I was looking for some professional inspiration, for something to capture my interest and help me “up” my organizational game.


Thus, began my Holacracy journey. I was captivated by the elegant nature of the system that uses the tensions people feel as fuel to do work and evolve the organization at the same time. The notions of increased agency and distributed leadership resonated deeply for me. I spent a portion of the next several years studying, training, and getting certified, and then implementing Holacracy in a variety of organizations that wanted to try this new way of working. Using Holacracy and similar distributed leadership models is a game-changer and calls for a level of presence that I find exhilarating. It supports freedom in the ways we work and has a rule set that provides ease and flow once it is learned.

At Integrated Work, we have been tinkering with the way we are organized for a while, looking for that just-right balance between coordinating well and not incurring a huge meeting overhead. As we continue to grow, we have realized that in order to amplify our impact in the most meaningful ways, we need new approaches to how we work together.  Old systems and ad-hoc processes just don’t make the grade. Because Holacracy can increase agility, efficiency, transparency, innovation, and accountability, it seemed a good fit for what we needed. The approach encourages individual team members to take initiative and gives us a process in which our concerns and ideas can be addressed.


At the same time, we acknowledge that it is critical that we stay true to our ideals since they are foundational to our culture. We also believe in the importance of nurturing our connection to one another as a way to keep our human first focus. Transforming how an organization works is a big undertaking, so we decided to begin our journey into Holacracy by applying pieces of the methodology as a way to learn what works and what doesn’t. To further our progress in this stepwise approach, two of our team members attended Holacracy Practitioner training. Along with Jennifer, our CEO (a Holacrat practitioner in her own right), we then formed a workgroup calling ourselves “The Holacrats.”


Over the last several months, we have shared learnings, done a bit of training, and most importantly, taken a deep look at the work we do. With the help of our full team, we organized what we do into about 70 roles, some of which are ongoing and some that are more occasional. Role identification is a key step in Holacracy and has provided useful clarity to the existing team, while also making it easier to onboard new team members.


We had our first set of Tactical meetings in November when we practiced our shiny, new Holacracy skills and got familiar with our new roles. We started with internal roles and have been adding our client-facing roles since December. Our first Governance meeting will be held in the coming weeks. With this incremental approach, we expect to be a fully functioning in Holacracy early this year.


Along the way, you can bet we’ll find a way of doing this in a way that:

  • Keeps us focused on being Human First
  • Supports us in acting with a Heart of Service
  • Amplifies our Impact
  • Is in Integrity Always
  • And supports us in Growing Together.


We’ll let you know how it goes!