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Low voltage lights and hierarchical organizational structures

Low voltage lights and hierarchical organizational structures

Every workforce member is a sensor who can capture “deltas” to problems and opportunities for an organization irrespective of their position in an hierarchical organizational map.

An important question arises, what operational design does the company have to acknowledge and then process these deltas efficiently and effectively.

This subject reminds me of a program I led for an e-learning company in 2007 termed “Technology Group Effectiveness”. Effectiveness being a wide term, program was not just limited to teaching design patterns and coding best practices for 200 engineers to build on capability and quality consciousness of the engineering workforce.

For a wholistic solution, a systemic review from the challenges (termed tensions in Holacracy) sensed by engineers was equally important. I have always observed operations as an enabler and if it is becoming a bottleneck to role play and blocking people from meeting their role purpose, deltas needs to be added to backlogs, prioritized and planned for execution. Interviews with technical leads for Phase 1, the middle tier (excluding technical heads and programmers) brought out quite a few tensions along quality of trainings, no trainings, communication gaps, lack of transparency, hierarchical bureaucracy, lack of opportunities for innovation, too much prescriptive methods to working and so on. The organization did not have a tool or s system to capture the tensions from the workforce.

Interviews did come with a disclaimer from interviewees to not disclose out their names. Post grouping of related challenges, listing from each tier was shared with the technology leaders for execution to ensure wholistic effectiveness. Listing did come as a surprise with some of leaders skewed to knowing more on who said what ; but which was definitely ignored :-).

Within the same organization, with my managerial experience with waterfall model at that time, a tension I sensed was with updating multiple spreadsheets with a change request or with adding or removing a workforce member from the project account, adding to considerable operational redundance.

It was almost impossible to bring a change in context, for communicating the challenge to the concerned stakeholders was itself a challenge for “hierarchical caging”. Structure became a bottleneck. The change was instrumental and a needed change for others also sensed the tension but were not eager to speak up. No change happened and challenge was lost until the leaders sensed it to own the need.

The list of such is endless and these and similar challenges are not unique to this organization (practicing agile now which does eliminate some such challenges by providing a level of autonomy). The structure itself enables some such symptoms leading to frustrations and unhappy workforce.

With so much rigidity, caging, having no domain of influence and with minimal freedom of thought and expression, I made a choice to leave the company for the cultural DNA was not aligned to my intrinsic needs.

Being a Ph.D. in self - organization , I knew working with full autonomy, being self-manged and while being a part of a self organized teams, a shift was a possibility ; this made me look for other aligned organizations.

Working with a completely remote company, as operations architect, implementation of OfficeVibe with weekly surveys, catalyzing people-first cultures, enabled people to voice up their challenges and be more engaged in the company. Office vibe allows for keeping your responses anonymous if you need to. Grouping within officevibe and Integration with corresponding circle (group of roles with a common purpose) slack channels, helped us to deal with scale in numbers and functions. We have gotten some really excellent suggestions here for role or systemic corrections and even potentials and opportunities for the organization.

For a big-bang change, model picking up momentum, Holacracy is a paradigm shift to allow for power and governance distributed throughout the company at each level of hierarchy and hence with all the workforce. This core change to the organizations operating system enables innovation and unleashes creativity of every workforce member; thus exploiting diversity to the fullest. Further the model allows retaining this DNA as the organization scales. Hierarchy stays but in a different form.

Reach out at for a session to know more on Holacracy, operational model and implementation.

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