When I was welcomed aboard the good ship Voys SA in January 2021 to take up the cudgels of in-house copywriter and marketing strategist, I was under the impression that all management systems were created equal. To my unbridled delight, Voys was very quick to correct this misconception.
In my manifold adventures as a professional writer thus far, management functioned in the conventional top-down fashion: authority accumulated at the top of the tree and slowly trickled down to the many branches that made up the organisation.
Most of us, myself included, simply assumed that this was the ‘natural’ order of things and paid no further attention. However, after a few weeks in the saddle at Voys, it became vividly apparent that this business organised itself in a remarkable new manner that is in every respect better than the arthritic old model it has replaced.
Enter Holacracy, the revolutionary management system which is a tremendous evolutionary leap in terms of the way companies are run. Once the scales were removed from my eyes and I saw the light, it was like eating char-grilled fillet steak for the first time after thinking cold polony was as good as it was ever going to get.
So what is this ‘Holacracy’ anyway and why does it matter? In a nutshell, it’s a management system for the 21st Century. Instead of authority being vested in a handful of big-wigs at the top of the food chain, it is distributed among all company members. Consequently, since every individual is now responsible for the overall success of the company, they each in effect become their own managers.
This has a remarkably galvanising impact upon the workforce: since it’s the intellectual capital equivalent of owning shares in the company, you’re so much more motivated to produce results you can be proud of. This has the ancillary effect of adding nitrous boosters to your organisation – under Holacracy it operates like a sentient machine which unleashes hidden reserves of productivity, efficiency and excellence.
Furthermore, the fact you take direct ownership of the quality of your work makes you way more personally invested in it. In big, lumbering organisations that still practice command-style management systems, your project briefs come from some distant, alien source from up on high. You have little say in the matter and have little choice but, like a blindly obedient soldier, to follow orders and hope that the mythical upper echelons of management know what they’re doing.
The problem here is that no-one knows better than you how best to utilise your abilities and put them to their most productive purpose. After all, you’re the one at the coalface developing invaluable insights into the business and its stakeholders, not a member of the C-suite whose finger is closer to their putter than the pulse.
This is precisely why the team at Voys was able to put together the perfect package for a customer in under two days while a far larger competitor had left her hanging for over two weeks. The small, agile, independent organisation whose members are empowered to take individual initiative in pursuit of fulfilling the company’s purpose will win that battle every time.
Whilst the management structure most of us are still used to is a hangover from the 1st Industrial Revolution, Holacracy is a deconstructed system for the 4th Industrial Revolution. It has been designed by humans, for humans. Humans are not part of a machine. Our work challenges are complex, dynamic and require creative, uniquely human problem-solving skills which is why we require creative, uniquely human solutions to modern management problems.
Let me make it clear that I’m not some kind of evangelist proclaiming Holacracy as the panacea for any and every corporate malaise. In fact, there are many scenarios in which it probably won’t work and many people to whom it might not appeal. Some simply work best when being told what to do as opposed to figuring it out for themselves and all power to them.
However, after having spent many years in the trenches in many different types of organisations in many different industries, I can certainly say that it works for me. As a copywriter in advertising agencies I would often get handed a brief and wonder if the person who wrote it had any idea who our customers were; what our product was or what our brand stood for. Now I get to write my own briefs. This is tremendously liberating and has made me a happier, more productive, more fulfilled and less frustrated industry professional.
Voys South Africa is currently the only official practitioner of Holacracy in the country and our team of smart, passionate individuals has the most vibrant esprit de corps of any organisation I have ever worked at. Coincidence? I don’t think so. In fact, this is the principal reason I make the bold assertion in the title of this piece: at Voys, the work IS the perk. I wonder how many people working anywhere else can claim the same?
Voys SA currently has its eyes peeled for new talent. If you like the cut of our jib, check out the available positions on our Homerun hiring page.