Holacracy or Autocracy? Both!

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Holacracy or Autocracy? Both!

Projects and organizations should be organized in different ways; holacracy in the organization, autocracy in the project.

· Agile Zone ·
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I strongly believe that while it is very effective to structure an organization in a democratic and sociocratic way, a project should be managed completely different.A project should resemble a dictatorship, authoritarian or military hierarchywith a single strong, result-oriented leader who gives explicit ordersthat are never doubted by subordinates and an explicitly defined hierarchy.
Apocalypse Now (1979) by Francis Ford Coppola
Apocalypse Now (1979) by Francis Ford Coppola

According to Wikipedia at the time of writing, a holacracy exists when"authority and decision-making are distributed" while,on the other hand, autocracy exists when"supreme power is concentrated in the hands of one person".

When I say organization, I mean a team, a startup, a company, thatsort of thing. It's something with a brand, an office, a business entityand a bank account. The role of an organization is very similar to the role of a country or a government: to provide securityin exchange for freedom. Democracy in a country, as well as in a team, guarantees equality to its members,which is the most important component of security.

A holacracy, also known as a "flat organization", technically refers to the absenceof bureaucracy, special privileges, expensive furniture and private partiesfor top management. In a flat team, the distance between the CEO anda junior programmer is very small. They sit together in the same room,eat in the same cafe, and discuss team strategy like friends. Thereare no "bosses" on a flat team, only "leaders". They don't give orders, they inspire. They don't punish, they celebrate success and mourn failuretogether with everybody. Well, that's the idea of a holacracy.And it actually works. I've seen it many times.

Because of this fundamental difference, a project must be managed by an authoritative person who gives orders and has enough guts to ensure those orders are obeyed. That person is called a project manager (PM). And the project will be successful only if its management structure is strictly hierarchical, just like in a military operation.  A project cannot be flat, or it will fall apart.

Since a project is a temporary endeavor, it doesn't give security to its participants. And it doesn't take away our freedom. The arrangement is different: A project gives us money and takes our time. The project basically says to all of us, its participants: "Let's get it done and go our own ways". Having this philosophy in mind and understanding the motivationof everybody involved, the PM must use instruments that have nothing to dowith what keeps the organization alive.

An organization/team/company/family will stay together for a long time ifwe value things like tolerance, respect, patience, equality, and appreciation.

To the contrary, a project will finish successfully if we value completelydifferent things: discipline, subordination, awards, punishments, and rules.

To summarize my thoughts, I would say that a successful company combinesthese two approaches by being a matrix organization that promotes holacracy in the team and autocracy in the projects it is working on.

design antipatterns, design pattens, java

Published at DZone with permission of Yegor Bugayenko . See the original article here.

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