Show me your organizational chart and I’ll tell you who you are

It’s been just a few weeks since we last reported on our progress with Holacracy, and so much has happened already! This month, we were able to translate some of the important organizational shifts that are taking place at BSL into concrete, visual, and publicly open messages that will hopefully help you and everyone outside BSL to better understand our new team structure and the way we function.

Replacing organizational chart with a…living organism map

Yes, you are reading right – a living organism map.

Last week, as we were in hectic preparations for the Induction Day for new students, we suddenly realized that we need to find a simple way to explain how our team is structured in Holacracy – who does what, who is the right person to contact on what occasion, and also, how are our roles linked to each other. Our key challenge was to translate what has become the new normal for us, having fully operated under Holacracy for 5 months now, into something that makes sense to others.

You might have read in our previous blogs that we moved away from titles and jobs – instead, we now energize “roles” which comprise “circles” that serve a particular division. Each of us may take multiple roles, including adding on new roles and letting go of old roles, and therefore, we might become members of more than one circle. At BSL, we have identified four such main “circles”: School (managing and developing our academic programs), Thought Leadership (developing new research practices and generating innovation), Admissions & Outreach (enrolling participants in our programs and connecting to relevant organizations and communities), and Services (delivering support in key areas including infrastructure, IT, facility management etc.).

BSL living organism map

After a few drafts, we transformed our organizational chart into a “living organism” map. One that reflects the “fluidity” of the organization and the lack of hierarchy. On one hand, you can see that the different “circles” are all at the same level (none of them is superior to the others), and, on the other hand, you can also observe that there’s no hierarchy within the circles themselves. We are all members of a circle with an equal right and responsibility to take initiative and fulfill our roles’ purposes as best as we can. And in doing so, we don’t report to a manager anymore. In other words, a circle does not have a manager. A circle has a “lead link”, but the lead link doesn’t manage people – he/she manages the circle’s resources, sets priorities, and ensures the governance of the circle without demanding that goals are accomplished in a particular way. A “lead link” cannot tell you how to do your job, but instead can only support you by ensuring you have access to the necessary resources.

Now, unlike any organizational chart, this one does not represent a pyramid or a matrix, but circles instead. Another key difference is the lack of job titles – we’ve included the key domains where we are involved, yet we have disassociated from our formal titles. The main reason for that is this exact fluidity of the organization – each of us could accept new roles or let go of others, and we move as the organization evolves.

This shift in our thinking has now become part of our organizational DNA. Here is a beautiful example that illustrates that: As we thought we had just finalized our living organism map, Massimo from our team pointed out that we had forgotten to insert out names in there! We had gone miles to associate ourselves with our roles – to the extent that we no longer mix our sacred personality with work. A wonderful and very telling error, we thought!

Full transparency – welcome to our world

A major decision we took in February was to make our organizational profile fully transparent – you can now see all roles and associated accountabilities, policies, checklists, ongoing projects, and meeting outputs through our public Glassfrog profile. Glassfrog (we also find the name funny :)) is a software that helps organizations using Holacracy record their structure, methodology and outcomes. You can now take an inside look at our structure and learn more about the way we operate. To us, this is a bold step in the right direction. While we are aware that full transparency goes hand in hand with vulnerability, we see it as a condition which nurtures our willpower to do the right thing. Every day. Come meet us online!

BSL public Glassfrog

Email signature like no other

Another big shift that is in the making right now is our revamped email signature. We will no longer use job titles; instead, we’ll describe core activity domains and include a link to our online Holacracy profile where you can see a detailed description of each role we energize. Curious how that looks? Send us an email 🙂

There’s more to come as a few of us are attending the Holacracy coaching training in Amsterdam next week. We can’t wait to meet the Holacracy community there, get a deep dive into organizational coaching for Holacracy, and expand our capacity to navigate forward. We will keep you posted.

Author: Denitsa Marinova, Active in marketing and communications that nurture student admissions and stakeholder outreach
See my roles

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