Holacracy – Can It Be Effective at the Government Level?

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Holacracy – Can It Be Effective at the Government Level?

(Why the Washington State Department of Technology decided to self-governance.)

Washington state is home to two of the largest corporations within the information technology industry in Amazon and Microsoft where aspects of a Holacracy organization exist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the Seattle area having 7.5% total employment as compared to 2.8% in the rest of the United States.

Also, the average hourly wage for someone in the computer industry is $50.63 as compared to $40.37 nationally. The take away from this is that the Seattle and Washington area is a hot bed for college graduates and IT professionals to come to work. Microsoft is well known for their campus in Redmond, which in turn is more like a small town that gives employees a level of holacracy and self-self-governance.

Theory and Practice

There are soccer fields for employees to relieve stress, break rooms on every floor and a post office on site for their employee in their mini-mall of sorts. The Washington State Department of Technology (WA-Tech) in response to an inability to retain and recruit top IT professionals decided to come up with an innovative solution of self-governance. Holacracy or the self-governance was brought to WA-Tech to create a different culture and to attract top IT professionals where they could practice self-self-governance.

Holacracy took away power from some of the managers and assigned full authority to roles and the ability for self-governance. Holacracy also inspires individual action; where self-governance is given to an employee to make a decision or take action when needed. In a blog posting from February 2016 from watech.wa.gov, two employees had the following to say about Holacracy:

  • We are having project success because of Holacracy. There is now a system for addressing systemic issues.”
  • Holacracy has improved our Scrum discipline.”

When self-governance is incorporated, employees see an increase in their project success. Although this is still a work in progress, the majority of published feedback tend to agree that Holacracy is shifting the culture of a traditionally administered government organization into something new and innovative.

As a part of this study, WA-Tech used a happiness metric where employees showed a 30 percent increase in empowerment. These types of innovative measures are showing that even traditional government organizations can look at ways to change the self-governance, and chain of command by trying a Holacracy. The early results are favorable and show that Holacracy is a trend in the administration and self-governance function of business that can work.

Keywords: Holocracy, Self-Governance


Anonymous. (2016, February 29). What we’ve learned from our Holacracy experience (so far). Retrieved from http://watech.wa.gov/blog/what-weve-learned-our-holacracy-experience- so far

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