Posted by & filed under Open Letters.

Hi M,

It is some months since you expressed an interest in FASST (Freedom Accountability and Structure for Systemic Transformation) and kindly offered to help with my related explorations in Holacracy.  Back then things were too embryonic for me to be able to define any specific need. Given the passing of time I realise I may have missed the opportunity of having your help. However, in the hope that your offer may still be current, here is an update with some ideas of ways forward and help needed.

Starting with the “Holacracy of One” experience

For the purpose of this update I’m going to start in the simplest way I can by referring to my personal “Holacracy of One” journey, and then widen out to look at collaborations in more general terms and at FASST .

My first attempt at a “Holacracy of One” resulted in a list of seven “Roles” that I energise in my life, each with its “Purpose”. Creating that list was a useful exercise and the idea of the different roles was helpful. However when it came to filling in the details under the other headings I was uncertain about what belonged under the heading “Domain” and what belonged under “Projects (Fields of Exploration)”.

Initially the heading “Accountabilities” seemed more straightforward, but it too easily developed into potentially endless “to do” lists.

If I am to move forward with the idea being a “Holacracy of One” (and then apply it in FASST) then I need to understand how to write all these things out properly.

It would be wonderful if you would help me.

Redefining my roles for 2017

As part of my “New Year New Start” for 2017 I revisited my roles. As before I was influenced by George Por’s work. I discovered that he had reduced his roles to four. I challenged myself to reduce mine, and  have come to an idea of my four roles, but I haven’t laid them out in detail yet.

I’d like to discuss them with you, to see if they “work” and how I would flesh them out in a “Holacracy of One” way.

Holacracies of one and collaborations

The way I see it there are some “projects” in our lives that we can do easily on our own, and some where we get stuck.

A “project” in this instance could be something as short-term as baking a cake or as long-term as gaining a degree. It is something that can be broken down into smaller tasks.

The “projects” that are easy for us are ones where all the tasks within the project can be done by the “Roles” in our personal “Holacracy of One”. The projects we get stuck on are ones where some tasks don’t fit comfortably with any of our “Roles”. We find such tasks very difficult to accomplish, and so the project falters. We struggle to continue alone. It may be that the specific sticking point is a task outside our level of competence. Or it may simply be that the task is one we have no energy for, and we dislike or resent having to do it before moving on. In other words, in Holacracy-speak, the role that would be accountable for that task is missing/not being energised.

We have to find some way past the block. Maybe we find a collaborator who will energise that role (perhaps along with some other roles). Maybe we just find some way to make ourselves do the task, motivated by its place in the long-term project.

Does that make sense to you in a general way? Am I making any sense regarding Holacracy-speak?

Current collaborations

Since we were last in contact, I have got involved in some new collaborations, and am in the process of redefining some existing ones.

The collaborations are with various individuals and groups, some are very “light touch, informal and infrequent” some more “serious, involved and long-term”. None of them involve the complications of exchanging any money. The are collaborations that have come about because they are mutually beneficial.

If we think of life as a journey, then these collaborations are where “the collaborators” happen to be heading in the same direction for a while, and so can find ways to help each other along the way. Some of my collaborators are interested in Holacracy and some are not. At this point in the update I’ll only focus on the four who share my Holacracy interests. They all want to learn more and so we would appreciate guidance in how we collaborate with each other in a Holacratic way.

My next request therefore would be for help in defining the roles of these collaborators. I imagine that this might involve me also redefining my roles or adding new ones. Two of the collaborators are involved with me in the same collaborative initiative, the other two are separate. Other connections between us might emerge as we define roles and clarify purposes within and between the different collaborations. You would connect with everyone (regarding doing our collaborations in a Holacratic way). If we get to this point I would appreciate you also defining your role in collaborating with me, and the others, in Holacratic terms.

Once we have roles refined we can apply Holacratic ways of doing things.

FASST and Holacracy, similarities and differences

Holacrcy was designed for an organisation with a clear commercial purpose and precise boundaries. It was easy to see who was in and who was out –  either they did work for the organisations or they didn’t.

FASST is far less clear. It is for people involved in looser collaborations, each collaborative group drawn together by a shared purpose. There is far more fluidity in terms of what people will do and when they will do it. That is why the discipline of defining roles and accountabilities is so important in FASST, certainly as important as in any normal Holacracy.

In FASST people need to know what they are free to get on with when they have the time, and if it a particular task is time sensitive. They also need to know what other people are getting on with, and how far ahead in time it may be before they actually deliver. There are some things that must be done quickly if they are taken on. Other things can be done in more leisurely ways.

Motivation and reward

Motivation matters as well. Why are people choosing to energise roles if they are not being paid? This is best carefully considered and stated clearly, so that the “rewards” flow effectively. People do things “freely” while appreciating various non-material benefits, such as learning new skills, mixing with interesting people, seeing positive results for the effort they put in, gaining experience, having something to put on a CV, the list could go on.

It helps if everyone involved is aware of the issues of non-material rewards, as this awareness maximises the chance of high motivation and satisfaction. It’s also important for people to be aware of how rapidly the value of various non-material rewards can change. If you are “between jobs” with time on your hands then it’s rewarding to be doing something interesting and worthwhile which will look good on your CV. If a full-time job suddenly arrives then those suddenly change in value. If you’re doing something “to learn how” then you may want to put in a lot of time initially so you can learn quickly, but only do “just enough to keep your hand in” once you have mastered the skill.

We probably need ways to express these issues in the FASST version of Holacracy.

Next steps

I won’t go any further yet, because I don’t know if you are still free for (and interested in) involvement.  If you are then I hope this will whet your appetite.

I look forward to hearing from you and, I hope, collaborating with you to explore more about Holacracy and how we can apply it in FASST to the benefit of various worthwhile collaborative projects.