Holacracy over Hierarchy

Category: News Post Date: 14.03.2019

The Adoption of Holacracy at i-Neti.

Earlier, i-Neti used to work like most companies. Management would assign tasks to employees from above, and employees fulfilled them and then waited for new assignments. Over time, we realised that such management hampers our development.

We started to look for companies that employ non-standard methods of management. We learnt from the experience of Zappos, Airbnb, Valve, Knopka and Tochka bank. We saw that employees with initiative have more freedom of decision-making in these companies, and wanted to apply this approach at i-Neti.

We started to work based on holacracy principles since 2017: we are moving towards a flat organisational structure that implies the absence of superiors and subordinates. Now the company has no strict hierarchy and lengthy job descriptions. Our managers are not superiors that bark instructions, but rather leaders of circles – advisors that help their teams to achieve their goals. They take part in the decision-making process like equal participants.

Rules of interaction, management and operation of the company are set out in a special document – the Holacracy Constitution. It does not influence the operating mode, but merely explains how we should interact with each other in the company.

Departments and division were replaced by circles at i-Neti. Each employee belongs to one or several circles. There are currently 11 circles at i-Neti:

For example, there is a joint circle of the company – General – it’s the biggest one. It’s made up of Lead Links and Rep Links of all circles. Once per week the General circle holds meetings where problems/issues of circles are resolved.

Roles instead of positions

Each of us have our main work – the position we were hired for at i-Neti. If a colleague is interested in developing other skills, they can assume additional roles. But it’s important to note that they can abandon an additional role at any moment. For example, here is a story of Dmitry from Moscow. He came to us as a Microsoft Dynamics 365 FO developer.

It’s cool and honourable to be a programmer! But what do you do if you’re tired of the same work or want to try something new in the company? This was the case with Dmitry. He wanted to try out other roles at i-Neti. More opportunities appeared with the transition to holacracy. When new roles emerged in the Dynamics circle, Dmitry took the additional role of “Leader of Dynamics i-Neti promotion”. He can reject this role at any time, and everyone in our company can do the same. You only need to declare your wish and choose a vacant role.

Core roles in circles

Each circle has 4 core roles: Lead Link, Rep Link, Facilitator and Secretary. Every role is interesting in its own way. Anyone can assume these roles.

I feel that something interferes with my work. Whom should I inform about it?

If colleagues experience difficulties or challenges which they feel they cannot solve by themselves, they should speak to the Rep Link of the circle in which they belong. We call it “tension”. Each voiced tension is the possibility to improve the company. Tensions can be tabled at a tactical meeting or one may try to solve them outside the meeting with the aid of a Rep Link.


Once in the HR circle a problem of lack of applicants for the company’s vacancies was raised. Only one channel of attracting candidates was working – hh.ru (Russian recruitment platform), that yielded a few responses. A tactical meeting was held to address this issue and it was suggested to configure advertising at Yandex and Google, to increase the reward for recommendations of an employee, and to launch advertising in social networks. No one voted against these proposals; the decision was swiftly made and taken to task.

Meetings of circles

There are tactical and governance meetings. At a tactical meeting, tensions are resolved. The participants focus on needs of a person who proposed a tension. A Facilitator observes compliance with the format and gives voice to each participant.

At governance meetings, choice of role takes place. When members of a circle need help and their current colleagues are busy, vacant roles emerge. This happens often. Primarily, we suggest these roles to our colleagues. And if we understand that we have no one who could take this role, we search for the right candidate in the open market.

Why do we need all that?

Holacracy is applied by innovators whose employees can improve their work by themselves and without bureaucracy. We believe that the future belongs to companies consisting of free and responsible people that do business.

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