Understanding Holacracy: Evolve and Adapt

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Strategy and Marketing Lead
Mar 8, 2023

Integrity walks its talk, and that talk is not only technologically innovative but distinctly human. 

We all know the importance of mission, vision, and purpose. The significance of having leaders that illuminate the path for their employees. I feel lucky to have found a company that not only does that but does it with a sense of style. Ed Morrissey and John Simanowitz are the kind of leaders we need in the 21st century.

In the web development industry, things change every day. And they change with a kind of acceleration that feels exponential. It is companies like Integrity, built around principles of nimbleness, humility, camaraderie, and fortitude, that will continue to meet the moment—for clients and ourselves.

My background is from industries that need to be faster in understanding these developments.

Journalism, as we all know, has struggled to adapt its business model to contemporary times. Alternative outlets and operations have emerged in this space because the need to tell stories is timeless.

Education has also struggled with a similar kind of identity crisis. What does it mean to be educated versus what does it mean to be credentialed? Those tensions play out in administrative board rooms over course offerings and curriculums that are argued over, disbanded, or dispatched. Meanwhile, students spend a fair amount of time scrolling TikTok and Snapchat under their desks, and teachers wonder how best to engage those students while the attention economy has already cornered the market of the adolescent mind.

I have spent the last 17 years working in different facets of journalism and education. While in the classroom or in a position of administrative decision-making, I did all I could to empower students, encouraging them to tackle learning through opportunities to guide their own education with support. My view has always been that when you give students the agency to apply their learning—engagement goes up.

I am grateful to be at a company that applies a variation of that same educational philosophy to the business world of technology. At Integrity, we learn by doing. The philosophy goes, if we do a little more every day, grow a new skill, find work that challenges us, and engage projects that make us a little nervous—that means we’re growing. Integrity’s vision is what pushes an agency to stay at the cutting edge. 

This is true in education. This is true journalism. This is true in business. It’s also true in biology.

Integrity is built around a version of a philosophy called Holacracy. In a Holacracy, the company considers its employees as cells inside a larger organism. Integrity recognizes that those cells are independent, but their evolution also changes the organism as a whole. As Holacracy advocate Brain Roberson writes, “[Holacracy] unleashes the power of evolutionary design on the organization itself.”

Think about it this way. I went for a run before I came into the office this morning. When we exercise, we challenge our muscles. We put them through a period of stress where they have to work hard. As a result, our muscles respond by becoming stronger. As Van Jones says, “I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym.” 

On a microbiological level, new cells are being created every second we are alive (around 1% of your cells a day). If those new cells are born under stress, like those created during my run this morning, they will be more resilient to future experiences of stress throughout their lifetime. From an epigenetic standpoint, those stress-resilient cells also pass on some of that physiological data when creating new cells, thus creating a stronger organism as a whole. 

This is a scientific way of saying that the environment a company creates for its employees changes those employees not just on an intellectual and psychological level but on a physical and biological level.

As a company, Integrity thinks of itself as an organism that has to adapt and change through evolution. Integrity recognized that they were not going to be able to adapt and change nimbly in a bureaucratic model which doesn’t allow for rapid response to new technological challenges. Our company deliberately shifted away from a 1900s industrialization model of “predict and control” and instead has adopted a model of “evolve and adapt.” This approach has never been more important for a technology company in human history. 

I believe the most important aspect of education is to impart to a new generation the idea that a life of meaning and purpose is derived through a kind of self-reliance and personal inspiration to improve oneself through intellectual pursuits over the course of a lifetime. Simply put, it is a life philosophy where you ask yourself daily: What is next for me to learn? Where can I grow? I am excited to be a part of a company that fosters this spirit in its employees and lives this vision daily. 

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