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Sharing Holacracy at Isha Foundation – Human Is Not a Resource 2019


Ever since I began my journey with Holacracy in 2016, its lead me to meet amazing people & speak at awesome events.

This month (June 2019) my journey with Holacracy took me to Isha Foundation to speak at Human is Not a Resource conference.

What is Isha Foundation?

It’s a non-profit organization founded by Sadhguru based in Coimbatore India. Its main purpose is to share powerful yoga programs & spaces for inner transformation. However, it’s not just about Yoga. 

Isha Foundation has extended its activities which include:

  • Schools: Isha Home School, Isha Vidya 
  • Rally for rivers to revitalize the rivers in India
  • Rural welfare projects
  • Leadership Academy

The most striking thing I found about Isha, is that it’s an entirely volunteer-based organization with 9 million+ volunteers (yeah seriously!).

What is Human Is Not a Resource Conference?

The purpose of the conference was to discuss practical steps to enable a paradigm shift from human beings as resources to human beings as possibilities.

The program brought CEOs and CHROs with experience leading organizations like TATA Motors, ISRO, Deloitte and Unilever on the same platform to re-think and re-imagine HR to:

  • Attract and retain talent
  • Engage employees effectively
  • Manage a multi-generational workforce
  • Remain agile and responsive in an increasingly competitive and borderless world

My Talk on Holacracy

Here are the key points from the talk:

  • Most organizations are structured using management hierarchy
  • The management hierarchy was not built to function in a complex and rapidly changing world, which leads to problems we’re all familiar with:
    • Bureaucracy
    • Painful meetings
    • Fear of change
    • Lack of enagement
  • We can take inspiration from natural systems to structure our organization.
  • Like the human body: Trillions of cells co-ordinating without bosses and managers to serve a purpose.
  • Holacracy is an alternate to the management hierarchy. Instead of operating top-down, power is distributed throughout the organization, giving individuals and teams more freedom to self-manage, while staying aligned to the organization’s purpose.

I shared the key shifts of Holacracy:

  • Static Job descriptions -> Dynamic roles
  • Delegated authority -> Constitutional authority
  • Large scale re-orgs -> Tension driven iteration
  • Alignment by politics -> Alignment by governance

How Isha Foundation functions

After the presentation I heard from several Isha volunteers, that it’s exactly how they intuitively function: 

  • No management hierarchy
  • structure inspired from nature
  • clear boundaries and autonomy

… except that they don’t have a formal approach to it. 

The head of HR & IT and they were very keen to know more about Holacracy for their teams. And I knew the best way to understand Holacracy is to experience it. 

So the next day I had a really fun time doing a Holacracy workshop for around 30 volunteers.

Meeting Sadhguru

Sadhguru has a super busy schedule, with teams working round the clock to manage his worldwide speaking engagements, meetings & events.

So we all were surprised when he made a visit to meet the speakers & participants of “Human is Not a Resource” conference.

The speakers had dinner with him, and I got a chance to have a short personal conversation and sharing experiences with Holacracy.

I’m really encouraged to see this new way of working resonating with a cross-section of people and organizations in India. 

Holacracy is not just for IT companies practicing Agile. It’s for any organization where people want to make work engaging, purposeful and responsive to change, in a way where work no longer seems like “work” anymore.

If you’re one of them, feel free to reach out to us to discuss how we can support your organization.

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