Measuring processes of change is difficult and many companies don’t do it, exactly because of the complexity of it. But with increasing data drivenness and decreasing tolerance for gut feelings, organisations do feel the need to validate the effort they are putting into organisational changes. At every event where I speak, there is at least one person who asks the following: did adopting Holacracy make your company a better company? The honest answer is: I don’t know. But reflecting on this question has given me insights that are valuable when you want to measure Change Management.
In the end, it comes down to having clarity on multiple levels:
- The Organisational level — what do we want to solve?
- The Individual level — are employees happier, more productive, healthier
- The Implementation level — did we reach a critical mass within our defined time frame?
Organisational: measuring the right thing
Implementing Holacracy is often expected to be the fix for an underlying problem that organisations, teams or individuals are trying to solve. Examples range from slowness of execution, to avoiding bottlenecks on key positions, to spending less time on meetings. Often the opposite of what is expected happens though: Holacracy doesn’t solve any problems magically. If anything, it shows with more clarity where your problems lie and magnifies tensions. It puts a spotlight on weak spots. What Holacracy indeed does, is give you the right tools and empower employees to solve their own problems. And that moves us onto the next level: that of the Individual.
Individual: impact and progress
Many organisations claim that (working within a) Holacracy makes employees happier, more productive and healthier. The assumption is that being able to work autonomous and to decide on priorities, will lead to a self that can better choose what is most important now. By doing so, employees are more productive, which in return gives them a feeling of fulfillment. That, in combination with not being micromanaged, would lead to less stress and thus healthier employees. The truth is that even if these effects occur, they will need time. Individuals will at first feel the stress and burden of learning something new (and difficult!). And while Holacracy does empower individuals, those individuals might not even notice, as they are on a steep growth trajectory and every skill becomes a new normal quickly. This growing and learning brings us to the last level: that of the Implementation.
Implementation: change-management success
An implementation of (parts of) Holacracy is not easy. It takes dedication, learning, vulnerability and patience. In many cases it is advised to either get external or/and internal support in the form of coaches to guide this process of change. It is not uncommon for organisations to start a Holacracy implementation, which is at heart a change management process, and then to fail to follow through. While many of us like to think, that change comes organically if it has benefits to the organisation, this is seldom the truth. A clear trajectory, with clear steps over a clear time frame is what is needed. And each of those steps should be measured and be accounted for, as you want to see afterwards what you did and what the results were. And yes, in case of failing this becomes even more important, since this will shed a light on what everyone will want to know: how did this go wrong?
Where and how to start measuring: OKRs and KPIs
It’s not easy to measure the success of your organisation. It takes patience and a clear vision to view the full extent of what you are trying to reach. Nevertheless, there are some tips where and how you can start.
To make sure you start measuring success the right way: write down the one thing you actually hope to achieve and start connecting KPI’s to it, to make sure you are measuring the right thing. The aim, goal, or thing you are trying to achieve should be on the Organisational level. The KPI’s should be lying in the Individual level and in the Implementation level. Only by starting change there, it is possible to solve something on the Organisational level. You can also use OKRs for this. The O should be on the Organisational level, the KRs on the Individual level and implementation level. Using OKRs has the benefit that you connect KPIs to the KRs, which goes deeper than just having a goal with KPIs attached.
Tools, tools, tools
Start measuring before you start your implementation, so that you have a solid baseline to compare with. And don’t forget: do not mess with how you measure. Be consistent, see it through. That being said, you need a place where you will measure things. Keep it easy and keep it practical. Use Google Sheets for example, to have a openly available place for all employees to add, track and fill metrics to measure your success. There are many tools and places where you can get the metrics from, that you will use in that sheet. Are you trying to measure employee happiness? Try Bloomin, TinyPulse or 7Geese. Are you curious and do you want to go more in depth? Mail your employees a survey using Google Forms or Jotform. Do you want to know if employees get more productive? Measure what they do and make it as easy as possible: most tools have a reporting feature and if they don’t find one that does.
Measuring complex processes is difficult, but something that is expected and very often needed. While it never gets easy, you can make it as easy as possible by following through the above. By doing so, you will have metrics that show you the reality of your company or team. One last tip: make sure to include everyone. Change is something you can only achieve, by getting everyone on board. Be honest, be transparent. Share failures and share successes. And don’t forget to have fun.
This article has been published before for Holaspirit.com