Why PR Organizations Should Embrace the Idea of Holacracy

September 30, 2015 Max Bergen


Hola-what-a? A holacracy is a brand new type of organizational structure that removes power from a management hierarchy and distributes it across clear roles, which can then be executed autonomously, without a boss in control. Think the opposite of a bureaucracy. Your entire organization may not be ready to embrace the idea, but it makes a ton of sense for PR teams to consider the approach.

The Way People Work has Changed

The days when someone went to work for a company in their 20’s and stayed until retirement, working every day in an office with the same set of colleagues, hoping to climb up the corporate latter, are long gone. Today, people are more distributed, they can work from anywhere and collaboration is preferred to autocracy. Smart leadership teams know that the people who are closest to their product, customers and processes are in the best position to make decisions and drive improvement.

Look at Zappos

Beginning in 2013, Zappos has bit by bit erased the idea of bosses. Departments now work together as groups, or circles of people working toward a common goal, rather than hierarchies. The incentive to climb the ladder has been replaced with the incentive to achieve corporate goals and success. What does that mean for individual roles? "We've given all 1,300 employees the opportunity to make structural changes to their job and their team to help move the business forward," Jordan Sams, from Zappos' Holacracy Implementation Team, told Business Insider. “They are the ones required to adjust and define their new roles within the overall structure, since the entire concept centers around being proactive, rather than reactive in your job.”

What Makes it Possible?

There is one major factor that is new to American business that makes it feasible to empower individuals to make decisions sans a strong management structure. Data. Like never before, today’s workers have the information they need to make decisions that promote the corporate best interest at their fingertips. Of course, you have to know what to do with the data, but modern companies are putting their bets behind empowered teams with good data vs. a few individuals with past experience.

What it means for PR

PR teams are increasingly equipped with software solutions that can aggregate, present and analyze millions of data points to give users the knowledge they need to make the right call right now. When talking about the best use of holacracy, Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO said, “It works best for businesses that need to deal with rapid change and ongoing feedback.” PR is certainly a business that deals with rapid change and ongoing feedback. Armed with the data necessary to make great decisions for brands and clients, PR teams can ditch the chain of command and instead opt for circles of collaboration.

The holacracy approach is certainly not right for every company and not every team can pull it off, but we think that PR is one function that can certainly leverage at least some of its spirit.  


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