Holacracy and Change Leadership: A Practical Guide

Holacracy and Change Leadership: A Practical Guide

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When it comes to leading a successful organizational change, there are two key elements that are critical for success: holacracy and effective change leadership. Holacracy is a self-governing system of roles and rules designed to create organizational agility, remove decision-making bottlenecks, and empower teams. And change leadership is a set of tools, processes, and methods for implementing organizational change effectively. This guide will provide a practical overview of holacracy and change leadership and provide two case studies to illustrate how organizations have combined these two powerful approaches for successful change.

What is Holacracy?

Holacracy is an organizational system designed to reduce bureaucracy and increase organisational agility. Through the use of self-governing roles, rules, and processes, holacracy enables teams to self-organize and make decisions without hierarchical decision making. Teams are empowered to be shared decision makers and have the authority to make quick decisions and undertake adaptive actions.

What is Change Leadership?

Change leadership is a set of tools and techniques designed to implement change initiatives with minimal disruption, maximize the impact of change, and ensure a successful outcome. Change leadership allows for leaders to engage their teams in the process of change, ensure alignment, and create an environment that is conducive to change. It enables leaders to stay one step ahead of the change process and identify and address any issues or roadblocks that may arise.

Case Study 1: Netflix

Netflix is a great example of an organization that successfully combined holacracy and change leadership for successful change. After the introduction of the streaming service, the need for rapid decision making increased. To respond to this need, Netflix adopted a holacracy system to empower teams and remove bottleneck decision-making. By democratizing decision making, Netflix was able to quickly adapt to market changes and ensure up-to-date product offerings. Additionally,Netflix used the change leadership approach to ensure a smooth transition to the new system. They engaged employees in the process, defined clear goals and objectives, and clearly communicated the benefits and implications of the new system.

Case Study 2: Zappos

In 2015, Zappos transitioned from a traditional top-down organization to a holacratic self-governing organization. This transition was made to further the company’s mission of putting its employees first and creating an environment of empowerment and innovation. To ensure a smooth transition, Zappos employed change leadership. They identified key stakeholders and engaged them in the transformation process, communicated the benefits of the new system, and received input from employees to ensure understanding and support for the transition. This combination of holacracy and change leadership enabled Zappos to make the transition smoothly and ensure the long-term success of the organization.


By combining holacracy and change leadership, organizations can increase agility and ensure successful change initiatives. Holacracy enables teams to self-organize making decisions quickly, while change leadership ensures smooth transition and effective implementation of the change. The two case studies described in this guide showcase two successful examples of companies that have successfully combined holacracy and change leadership for successful change.

Image credit: Pexels

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