Self-organization has many faces and can be implemented in a variety of ways in the company. Two possibilities are holacracy and sociocracy, which I want to highlight in this article. Many questions reach me from entrepreneurs, who ask me whether I know companies that are still implementing this. Of course, I know some startups that deal with it successfully, but I don’t know any traditional and established companies that are still using this. I would like to tell you in the following why.

What is sociocracy and holocracy?

My own experience

I myself was allowed to attend a holacracy in 2016 and the frameworks were also discussed and tried out in my roundtables as part of my research.

Unfortunately, my holacracy failed abruptly after a few weeks. Especially ego in the company and employees who make service according to regulations do not fit this framework. One often experiences a standstill when the management circle was once again properly discussed. Furthermore, in my opinion, many employees also yearn for a concrete boss – a maker and announcer. “No, my boss has to decide”…. Even for me as an IT consultant, it was often too slow because I depended on decisions.

Not every employee wants to decide everything and also participate actively

Andren companies did the same

Also in the roundtable, my more than 20 practice partners told me that by 2018 all attempts to use the methods had been abolished. It just doesn’t fit the morale of companies and maybe a piece of us Germans. It makes more sense to give motivated employees freedom and to assign clear processes and tasks to other hard-working employees.

The main problems were that holacracy was very slow even very bureaucratic. It has been a very long time to include any opinion. I believe that it is because many employees have to get used to the fact that it is a part of the decision-making process. This also means making compromises. Furthermore, even according to my practice partners, I simply did not want to participate. They wanted a concrete job and done it properly and cleanly.

The approaches are certainly good ideas, but it simply does not reflect the current mindsets of many workers and the structures we are used to. At the end of the day, the goal of companies is still to make money.


Unfortunately, none of the companies around me tries out the models around sociocracy and holacracy. Often less radical models such as the Spotify model, which combines hybrid classic and agile methods and leaves room for every type of employee, are often preferred. I think that as a company in capitalism and with different characteristics and attitudes of employees, we need methods that are rather diverse. I think the two concepts are simply not versatile enough.

Reading tip: Spotify model in established companies

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Gender note: I have used the male form for easier reading. If no explicit distinction is made, women, miscellaneous and men as well as people of any origin and nation are always meant. Read more.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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