How could the implementation of a simple software to describe the organizational chart of a company trigger a managerial innovationstrengthening the self managementand deeply challenge the concept of power?
This question was given to me by a business manager whom I accompanied: “How to represent the organization? » So that everyone is in position, sees where the others are, and that everyone can evolve easily.
Like many, this leader began this work using a flowchart. Dissatisfied, he moved on to a system of rosettes which quickly showed its limits: lack of concepts, tools, knowledge, skills… Above all, he was unable to bring everyone into it. It was then that his journey led him to HolaSpirit, a powerful tool but for which support is essential, because of its richness and complexity. This is how technology can be at the origin of a managerial and self-managerial transformation.
With holacracy, came a more lively and representative organization chart of reality, in which people, employees and managers find themselves. With its emergence came the need to create the associated software, originally GlassFrog. A tool born at the same time as the constitution and which evolved in parallel, just like HolaSpirit which was developed a few years later.
For those who want to visualize and make explicit the organization of their company and the roles that make it up, these tools are a solution. Associated with a tool like holacracy, they release a completely new potential for power. The implementation of this new technology can, for sure, trigger a managerial transformation.
So let’s go back to the case of this company which decides to equip itself with software capable of reflecting and managing its organization. How to integrate five companies, in several countries, four hundred people into the software. How can you be sure that whoever is going to accompany you is ready to play the game and confine himself to setting up software?
Once the questions have been raised, the work focuses on the software itself. A software which, all in all, is quite simple, visual and graphic, is based, without really saying it, on notions and, in particular, that of roles, purpose or even domains and accountabilities. Another embedded concept, that of circles, often associated with that of team.
…accompanied by an approach
It is this approach that will open up all possibilities if the company wishes to go further, with holacracy, towards constitutional management. It is also a must because it is not possible to support an organization to set up roles if the concept itself is not clearly defined and understood upstream. Especially since this same concept is involved, natively embedded in the two aforementioned software. However, there is only one true definition of the role. This was sourced in 2007 by holacracy and will, here, underlie the entire approach, be its very foundation.
A transformation that begins with a journey with the manager
This journey with the manager is an essential first step which takes the form of face-to-face coaching and which is conceived in a co-creation approach. Help the boss to mature on the concepts embedded in the software and on the implementation of the latter.
The first job is to define, based on the presentation made by the boss of his company, the constituent circles of the organization. The largest of these circles represents the entire company and its subsidiaries. Inside, as many circles as necessary. In the case of our company: one for the French subsidiary, one for the Chinese, others for HR, finance, IT, etc. It is first of all about going to the essentials to be operational and functional as quickly as possible.
This coaching is essential. He progresses in an agile way, at the pace of the leader. In this, it makes it possible to be perfectly adjusted to the needs of the company. This makes it possible to avoid unnecessary complexities, to concentrate only on the implementation of the software, on the “sufficient minimum” which makes it possible to achieve this.
The 5 main principles that make up the method
The first principle is to start with the biggest to go to the smallest. An approach that most often turns out to be counter-intuitive for many. Thus, in another company, the founder wrongly asked everyone to define their roles. However, the reverse should apply. If we don’t want to get lost in an analytical and bureaucratic approach, which creates no value.
Another important point, we must integrate the fact that we are not looking for perfection. We just want an “MVP” (minimum viable product) that we will evolve over time.
The third principle consists of making sure to reflect reality, even if it means suffering for a moment. Changes to be made are noted and postponed to take advantage of the change management process in place.
Fourth principle: everyone should be on board at the right time; so that everyone can take on their roles.
Last major principle: above all, we must not miss the opportunity to create a culture centered on the creation of values and thus avoid bureaucracy. The software is the perfect opportunity to educate everyone about value creation. We change our mental model. We go from ” job description to the role; we create an unprecedented culture of value creation in the company.
Roles and business model canvas
In this whole process, the main pitfall is bureaucracy. Indeed, the notion of role brings additional complexity. Many will be tempted to explain things which, in themselves, do not allow any creation of values, for example, by creating roles based on job descriptions.
Here we are not interested in what everyone does but in what they create as values for others. It is therefore essential to be vigilant so that no one misses out and falls into these traps; so that everyone concentrates on the raison d’être of their role, this value-creating potential, this purpose. And on the value propositions of its role, these service offers intended for internal or external customers. We no longer place ourselves in a context of power over but in that of authorities to create.
And, in this context, using a tool like the business model canvas to describe the work of each team, each circle, makes it possible to support the creation of values within a company, seen as an ecosystem based on relationships of customers to suppliers. The required, virtuous structure is in place to move in the right direction. That of a company populated by leaders who create value in their roles. By the simple effect of the software put in place.
Management and hierarchy
While the initial request consists of the implementation of software, things happen very quickly in terms of management and hierarchy. Indeed, how to move forward without defining the role of managers from the start, with software that places in each circle, natively, a role of Circle Leader? The following questions naturally arise from this: what is the nature of management in the company? What are the expectations of the boss in relation to this same management? Pandora’s box is open and the software can play the role of a mirror which obliges to clarify, to define.
This is too good an opportunity to define what is expected of managers. Now, with the software, its expectations are defined, explicit. He no longer has his pre-squares, a power over, neither on a playing field, nor on a team. Thanks to the software, a virtuous structure is in place. Without drums or trumpets, power changes form, the self-managerial transformation is launched.
Therefore, another question arises: that of the hierarchy. This is first expressed through employment contracts which imply, whatever the company or the situation, a relationship of subordination between the employee and his employer. Even limited to this, the question of hierarchy must therefore be dealt with. Especially since this dimension is in no way provided for by the software.
Thus, can we create a role of hierarch for example, whose role will be to manage the employment contract between each and the company. This will be an opportunity to decline and explain all the resulting HR functions -which opens the way to social innovation-. In a circle centered on the role of hierarch. Because, ultimately, the company has two businesses: the profession and, alongside, the human capital.
Eventually, the software forces you to make things explicit by disrupting the power structure. The management moves, without imposing anything, just by the exercise of questioning. The company code appears. She goes from being a static representation in a flowchart to a living entity in a holarchy. Potentially, it can now change as fast as change.
Explicit and dynamic delegation of roles, transmission of source energy
The software assigns “by design” to the circle leader the authority to assign roles to people. There is now a formal delegation process; formal and explicit. From now on, the manager has a means of transmitting, as a source of the company or a global source, a specific perimeter of authority, a role to a specific source, that is to say specific to this role. The structure is also ready for the use of source principles, with the transmission by the global source to a specific source of superpowers.
Definition of roles
For each circle, it will be necessary to define all the roles. A job that requires making managers aware of this new subject that is organizational design, that is to say defining the roles in their circles and the relationships between the different roles. According to the principles of life: more cohesion and less coupling. This is how the circle will be able to deliver all the value propositions that the ecosystem expects of it.
At the same time, employees should also be made aware of what a role is, a raison d’être, accountability, a value proposition; on its liability as a supplier, etc. It is just as important to allow them to seize all the new potentialities offered to them: explicit authorities attached to the roles to act and create.
With the software, the structure is in place to support self-management.
A first managerial reference was born…
This approach naturally induces the emergence of a managerial frame of reference which clarifies all the notions and processes which qualify and animate the new organization. Constituent power is revealed and made explicit. In a first version which is destined to evolve, like a living organism.
Yes, technology can be at the origin of a managerial transformation. Provided you are well supported, master the concepts of role and value creation, to accelerate the company’s ability to express its raison d’être. And, by the simple fact of making things explicit and proposing a major break in the exercise of power. Ultimately, transformation and managerial innovation are launched. Without fear and from a simple software!