Implementing Holacracy: differences between Germany and the Netherlands

Matt Hallmann
5 min readOct 18, 2019
Teamwork

Some of us are lucky enough to do one Holacracy implementation and see, understand and feel the joy, challenges and hardships that come with it. Getting your team or company ready for self organisation is not easy. It’s hard and requires dedication and focus.

I’ve been extra lucky, to have been a part of one organisation transforming towards self organisation on two different occasions, holding two different positions, in two different countries. And while my experiences and findings might not be exemplary, they give an insight about the importance of cultural differences and how they can play a part in the process of change.

From Amsterdam to Berlin

When I joined Springest, an educational tech company, Holacracy had only been freshly implemented as organisational structure. After a lot of coaching and learning, the team was getting familiar with all concepts and practicing self organisation on all levels. Because of an investment that had been raised around that time, there were many new hires (including me), who were all eager to scale the company and taste autonomy in a professional context for the first time. Seeing those new Springeteers becoming familiar with Holacracy, while the company was still learning as a whole, was amazing to witness.

Getting your team or company ready for self organisation is not easy. It’s hard and requires dedication and focus.

In 2016 I moved to Berlin for Springest, to set up a second office, next to the HQ in Amsterdam. The German market had been growing steadily and it was time to set up a permanent presence in Germany. Doing so meant that we had to hire and set up a new team of German Springeteers in our Berlin office. It also meant that we had to onboard those people into our way of working, where Holacracy was the OS (operating system) that we were running on as a company. Doing so felt like, and in fact was, a second implementation of Holacracy in a new team.

Initial observations

There is no doubt that there are differences between (some) national cultural variables in the Netherlands and Germany. These cultural differences can manifest in differences in behaviour, perceptions and…

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