Flux is a volunteer-lead, resource-constrained, distributed organisation. These characteristics require that we think and operate in ways which might not fit standard expectations about how organisations are run. Classic organisational models often struggle to deal with cases that do not fit the standard centralised company model (where people are together in the same location for extended times every day), and Flux was experiencing those types of issues. To progress and move the organisation forward, we recognised that we should consider some non-conventional models and assess if that might address our issues. Holacracy is the starting point on that journey.
When I came in to the Flux National SteerCo (Steering Committee), all the way back in early 2018, there were a few common complaints throughout the organisation. These complaints are pretty common to volunteer orgs and startups (with one very particular to Flux), and the common themes were:
- Decision-making bottlenecks: over-reliance on ‘leaders’ to make a decision that could feasibly be made by the person doing the work
- Role Confusion: people coming into the organisation and unsure about how they fit in or what works needs doing
- Duplication of Work: projects frequently being started or even been taken to completion when the work has already been done elsewhere
- Lack of a self-management philosophy: confusion regarding how we get work done in a way that allows us to organise around issues in a way that is broadly compatible with our philosophical alignment with IBDD (Issue Based Direct Democracy)
This led to a series of questions that myself and another SteerCo member embarked on, specifically:
- “What is the best way to organise a decentralised movement?”
- “How can we give clarity, direction and purpose to incoming members as a volunteer organisation?”
- “How can we provide the transparency and accountability needed to pull off a feat like making IBDD a reality?”
We investigated various self-management systems and decision-making frameworks, and finally settled on Holacracy as the best way of organising (for now). While other options seemed workable (Sociocracy, Sociocracy 3.0, Loomio etc), Holacracy had a proven track record with helping ambitious organisations navigate complex environments. It also had a way of measuring progress and firm accountability mechanisms to help us get clarity and accountability as to how the hell we go about replacing the current method of political organisation.
Flux According to Holacracy (Current at mid-March 2019)
There is a deeper, more interesting problem that Flux is yet to solve: how to structure the Executive arm of government under IBDD? This is an as-yet unanswered question, but our experience with Holacracy might provide us with some really valuable insights around how to orient around a citizen mandate and direct resources accordingly. If IBDD is concerned with the ‘why’ of governance, then Holacracy has a very firm answer to the ‘how’ of governance.
That all sounds great, but how is it going so far?
There have been a number of challenges so far; those being:
- A steep learning curve for incoming volunteers
- Angst within the existing org members as new ways of doing things ruffle feathers and test assumptions
- Confusion as to who is doing what and how they should do it.
But something else is happening as well. The emerging consensus is that:
- It has never been clearer what is expected of us as partners of Flux and what we need to do to move things forward
- The amount of work actually getting done vs. time spent talking about what might/should/could get done has dramatically tilted towards efficiency
- Those who step up are empowered to do so
Our experience with Holacracy is just beginning, but so far it shows huge potential and congruence with Issue Based Direct Democracy in terms of answering how we execute on all our great ideas.
Hi there! My name is Rhys Jaconley. I joined flux in early 2018 and have been a key player in moving us to Holacracy. I come from a law/dispute resolution background and am passionate about creating environments where human bonds are formed through the pursuit of excellence. I am particularly excited about the possibilities that allow for bioregional self-management and self-governance, and the strong communities that are likely to form around this kind of power distribution. I am currently the Holacracy Engagement Lead, Engagement Officer and Lead Link for the Victorian Steering Committee. Please get in touch if you’d like to have a chat!