Holacracy - does anyone have experience with the concept?

a few years ago I have stumbled upon the notion of Holacracy as a management style. I read some books and articles, but I have not yet had the opportunity to experience it first hand. Having said that, the more we are trying to figure out things for the core units the more attractive this concept seems in the context of managing distributed organisations.
It also seems in sync with the mindset presented by MakerDAO as a whole.

Have any of you entertained the idea of applying some (or all) ideas described by the umbrella term of “holacracy” to the newly forming Core Units?
…or maybe MakerDAO is already an holacracy but not called like that?

I would much appreciate a discussion on this topic.

BTW, this is my first post here.
I am Paweł and I am working as an engineer in the Oracle / Backend Services Team at Maker.


Honestly, it sounds very similar to stuff we’re already doing. Though I don’t think anyone ever sat down and said ‘let’s make this a holacracy.’

Some examples:

“Some have described the authority paradigm in Holacracy as completely opposite to the one of the traditional management hierarchy; instead of needing permission to act or innovate, Holacracy gives blanket authority to take any action needed to perform the work of the roles, unless it is restricted via policies in governance or it involves spending some assets of the organization (money, intellectual property, etc.)”

We do this, at least, we try to. I wrote a post about it ages ago.

“Holacracy specifies a tactical meeting process that every circle goes through usually on a weekly basis. This process includes different phases to report on relevant data, share updates on projects, and open discussions where any circle member can add to the agenda.”

We do this at GovAlpha, I’m fairly sure that other CU’s have similar meetings. The whole open-agenda thing is practiced pretty widely as well (again, at least at meetings in which I’m present.)

" Holacracy structures the various roles in an organization in a system of self-organizing (but not self-directed) circles. Circles are organized hierarchically, and each circle is assigned a clear purpose and accountabilities by its broader circle. However, each circle has the authority to self-organize internally to best achieve its goals. Circles conduct their own governance meetings, assign members to fill roles, and take responsibility for carrying out work within their domain of authority. Circles are connected by two roles known as “lead link” and “rep link”, which sit in the meetings of both their circle and the broader circle to ensure alignment with the broader organization’s mission and strategy."

So this is the part that we’re half doing. I would say that we have circles, but not a hierarchy of circles (at least not explicitly, at least not yet). One could potentially describe our circle hierarchy as:

Multiple Core Unit Circles → Mandated Actors Circle → Governance / Community in General.

At the least, the mandated actors circle is starting to act a bit like a higher-tier circle over the core units.

So yeah, pretty interesting parallel to draw. Honestly adopting this model more intentionally might be to our benefit, given that we have some weaknesses in areas that this may solve.

On the other hand, there is already a fair amount of administrative overhead just with the requirements for governance and transparency - so maybe we don’t want to add additional administrative overhead that this sort of structure would bring.


Welcome to MakerDAO @teghnet! If it helps MakerDAO decentralize beyond what it is today, than I’m all for it! :slight_smile: Thanks for bringing this back to light.


Thanks for bringing up an interesting topic :slight_smile:

My question is this: What role in the holocracy do the MKR holders play? Are they the “top circle”? I’m not very familiar with the structure so I think that this will help me better conceptualize it.


Aaron Dignan has done and is doing a lot of work on this topic. Check out his book Brave New Work. DAOs are mentioned briefly in the book. Also, Aaron and some of his staff at The Ready run a podcast that has conversations with guests about innovative corporate management structures. Aaron recently started a software-as-a-service project Murmur that aims to automate some of his ideas (similar to Maker’s MIPs).


Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine a total holocracy where you have token holders that wield a good portion of the power; that sort of naturally imposes a management hierarchy. So it seems to me that what you end up with is a management hierarchy with a holocracy encapsulated somewhere vaguely within it.


This is a valid point. Haven’t thought of it.
But it makes things a little simpler.
Maker DAO is less of a holacracy in this context and that is fine.
Surely, nothing stops us (the community) to create Core Units organised in this (or any other) way.


That’s why I like listening to Aaron Dignan’s podcast. It’s about an hour a week, not a big time investment, and sometimes you get an idea how some aspect of business management can be improved. I don’t think it is important to do something like Holacracy by the book. It’s more important to make incremental improvements. I mean, a large part of Holacracy is the idea that business processes should not be allowed to ossify to the point that the ossified process becomes antagonistic to the goals of the business.


On a strategy/management level, Maker’s core unit structure sounds rather similar to a holacracy. However, the governance process not so much:

Holacracy specifies a structured process known as “integrative decision making” for proposing changes in governance and amending or objecting to proposals. This is not a consensus-based system, not even a consent-based system, but one that integrates relevant input from all parties and ensures that the proposed changes and objections to those changes are anchored in the roles’ needs (and through them, the organization’s needs), rather than people’s preferences or ego.

I’m not sure I understand how this “integrative decision making” actually works in practice, or if it could even apply in our case. Are there any examples?

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Thank you all for very insightful responses. Creating an open and decentralized organisation is really a challenge when one needs to map that into the legal structures we still need to work with.

Fortunately, with a right mindset and - most of all - people, it is getting easier to set-up innovative cooperatives.

Looking forward to see how Core Units tackle those issues and how they organize.

Maybe a podcast coming from the Maker DAO would be a nice way of sharing these experiences?

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