By Meike Beckford, previous Lead Director for Dosh
This post builds on a previous post I wrote about self-leadership and here I will take you through an example of how team-level self-leadership (or self-organising teams) can be developed through a model called holacracy. I will share the experiences we have had so far in Dosh in piloting this in 2020 and the benefits I have found it can bring.
Overall, the principle of self-organising teams is quite a broad one, with the overall goal being for the team to manage, arrange and lead its own work. This ultimately builds on the idea that in our dynamic and fast evolving world, we cannot rely on the traditional approach of everyone repeating the same monotonous tasks on autopilot whilst leaving the thinking to one designated leader or the organising to one manager. As I mentioned in my innovation post over a year ago, no one person has a monopoly on knowledge or talent, and we are stronger when we involve everyone in contributing to the direction of the team. In addition, hierarchies can become slow and stifle innovation as they create an approval lag that means the team has to wait for a decision to go up the chain and pass back down before they can do anything. It therefore removes decision-making from those with the information and ‘live’ experience who cannot respond quickly to changing circumstances and needs on the ground.
Taking these processes and hierarchies away can raise some alarm bells of course – how do you stop it descending into anarchy, with everyone doing what they like, no overall direction, risk management or business planning? What about the team members? How do you still support, train and develop them if everyone is doing it themselves? It may be quite a scary concept, not only for managers used to telling people what to do, but for team members used to the security of someone else making the decision so they can just show up and carry out the day job.
This is where models like holacracy become useful, through a gradual adoption process that avoids the cliff edge that might risk a collapse into anarchy. Holacracy is an organisational structure based on creating holons, or circles (teams). Members document all the roles they hold (not just one overall job) and write the purpose and accountabilities of each one. These roles are visible to all and they are constantly evolving through a bespoke meeting and organisational structure that allows everyone in the team to develop the roles in response to what they and the organisation needs.
Having documented roles makes them explicit, transparent and gives a clear scope of authority to each – it takes away much of the misunderstanding about who is responsible for what and helps roles work together from a clear starting point. The structure (through governance meetings) for processing changes ‘holds space’ for everyone and ensures they each have a voice, but is skewed towards making changes by using the test of ‘will it cause harm’ (that cannot later be reversed) as the bar for objecting to a change. Thus, most things are ‘safe to try’ and the team (or circle) is empowered to give things a go and take responsibility for making (and reviewing) changes that will better enable them to achieve their goals.
The system distributes leadership and power across the organisation.
This is something we have trialled in Dosh in the last year, experimenting with the meeting formats and documenting the roles we fulfil. It has taken some adjustment but has brought a number of clear benefits:
It has of course also brought its challenges, particularly the strange meeting format and terminology. People’s openness to the approach depends on where the team is in itself, so not all are ready to adopt at the same pace or with the same enthusiasm, but these obstacles can be overcome as we work on the system together, tailoring it to our own needs and developing it together so that everyone has a sense of ownership and control over our development.
For me, the biggest thing is that it reinforces and supports our existing culture and leadership practice where we all work together to achieve our overall purpose.
Whether your own team or organisation is already there, or this is somewhere you’d like to get to, exploring self-organising teams and holacracy might be the tool you need to find a turning point and build towards change.
Read more about Dosh’s leadership practice in Steve’s post on Leadership in the Raw.
To learn more about holacracy, try this video or read the founder’s book: Brian Robertson (2015) Holacracy : the revolutionary management system that abolishes hierarchy, London : Portfolio Penguin
Meike Beckford February 8th, 2021
Posted In: News and Blogs
Dosh’s Managing Director for the past 10 years, Steve Raw, is moving onto a new post within Thera Trust and so we are saying a fond farewell, thank you and good luck to Steve for his leadership at Dosh. Meike Beckford is taking over as Lead Director from 1st November 2019 and is looking forward to working with the Dosh team, people we support and partners across the UK as financial advocates promoting people’s control and independence with money.
As Steve leaves Dosh, he has been reflecting on his time with us and has written this piece on surrounding himself with ‘people who make you better’. Here is his blog post on the subject, reblogged from www.leadershipintheraw.org.
I am interviewing our second candidate with Meike Beckford, Dosh’s Financial Advocacy Manager for a position with Dosh Ltd www.dosh.org a company I have had the honour of being the Managing Director for over the last 10 years. It is my turn to be asked a question by the interviewee and to be honest it is not one I was expecting. “So what do you find is the best part of working for Dosh?” My response comes to me immediately. I say “it is reading the stories that my colleagues send me about how they have made a difference to another person’s life” Before each Board Meeting each team member sends me a story about their most recent work and their involvement in supporting a person to have more independence and control with their money. I always find their stories moving and inspirational.
The Dosh team come from a diverse background and they are totally committed and dedicated to people with a learning disability. I am truly surrounded by talent and I will be a better leader and manager for this experience. Working for Dosh has been the highlight of my second career.
How did that happen?
I started as a Community Support Team Leader (& Support Worker) supporting people with a learning disability, after retiring from the Army in 1996. I was inspired by my daughter Bettina (who copes with a learning disability) to enter this field of work. I wanted to make a difference and I decided the best way to do this was to seek out the best people to work with and for. If I was going to achieve success and be successful, I would need to surround myself with talent. I knew from experience that doing this would make me better a person and a better leader too.
I subsequently became a Registered Home Manager, Area Manager, Operations Manager, Regional Director, and a Director of Learning Disabilities, before achieving my dream job in 2009 as Managing Director of Dosh (Financial Advocacy) Ltd a subsidiary company of Thera Trust.
If you have the ability to work with people smarter than you, always try to be the least smartest person in the room and surround yourself with talent, because iron sharpens iron. Jake M Johnson
The purpose of this post is to share with you how I have personally benefited from finding people who have made me better and why this is a good thing to do.
Why should you endeavour to find people who make you better?
My 5 top reasons for doing this are as follows:
How do you go about finding people who make you better?
“I’ve got the attitude which I still have today that if I find someone that I really admire, someone that I think, I want to be you. I want to do the things the way you do them. I’ve always sort of been stupid enough or brave enough to go up to them and say, will you mentor me?” Rene Carayol – Businessman, Speaker, Author and Broadcaster
“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins, Good to Great
My 5 top tips on Talent Management
So you have found people who make you better. How do you keep them close to you and involved in your life so you keep getting better because of them:
I found work that I was always meant to do and I got to do this for 10 years with Dosh. From the 1st November (2019), I am moving to a new position within the Thera Group. I will be their Head of Workforce Strategy and Engagement (the job title is still under negotiation as I type). I feel fortunate to be given this opportunity as there is so much I want to achieve for people within my organisation.
As I handover to Meike our (excellent) new Lead Director and before I leave Dosh, I want to take the opportunity to thank the Dosh Board of Directors and each team member (past and present) for making me a better person. I couldn’t do what I do without you!
Meike Beckford November 1st, 2019
Posted In: News and Blogs
Dosh is 10 years old today! The idea was born in 2007 that there was a different, better way to support people with their money. This focused on financial advocacy and putting people in control of their money and how this affects their lives. From this idea came Dosh. Since starting to support our first handful of people on 29th November 2007 we have grown to nearly 800 people today! We will be celebrating our 10th anniversary today and over the coming year – look out for a special anniversary newsletter in the new year, stories from people who joined Dosh in the early days and more celebrations. To start us off, our Managing Director for 8 of those 10 years has written about his passion for Dosh, some of his highlights and why he loves the work he does.
By Steve Raw, Managing Director for Dosh
LOVE THE JOB YOU ARE IN – OR WHY I LOVE WORKING FOR DOSH
Celebrating 10 years of financial advocacy for people with a learning disability
One of my mentors is my wife Joyce, we call her the Oracle. Why? Because she is always right. An example of one of her gems was back in 1996 when she said to me: “Steve, you spend a long time at work so it is important you do something you love and enjoy” – that really focused me on deciding what I was going to do as I was being demobbed from the Army (my first career).
Fast forward to this week, on the train coming home from the Dosh Strategy Day in London, I had the best day, working with some incredibly talented, knowledgeable and experienced people on how we could support people with learning disabilities in the next 10 years, and I was buzzing. I looked at my fellow commuters, I may be being unfair but they looked weary. I detected the same weariness in the conversations they were having on their mobiles too. For me though, this is a second career which has lasted 21 years so far and one that I am still incredibly passionate about.
For the last eight years I have had the good fortune of being the Managing Director for Dosh. I told Learning Disability Today magazine in their ‘Me and My job” series the following:
What would be your dream job? “I am already doing it – I love what I do everyday”
What is your ambition? “I reached my professional ambition when I became MD for Dosh”
So why do I love my job? I enjoy being able to be involved in all aspects of our company and our support which includes:
Doing stuff that you have a passion for helps you to maintain and have stronger mental health. In your quieter moments, acknowledging that you are doing something that you are passionate about can give you a sense of well-being and contentment.
With passion comes a high level of enthusiasm for what you do. I have found this to be contagious not only do your friends benefit, but also your family.
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
Here my top 5 tips for finding your passion:
As a young 15 year old heading towards the Army Recruiting Office in Middlesbrough while my school mates headed in a different direction towards their interviews for ICI Apprenticeships as Welders and Platers, I thought that if I didn’t love what I was going to do I wouldn’t be able to do it with much conviction or passion. I felt the same way when I entered into the world of supporting people with learning disabilities.
There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
See more about what Dosh has achieved and how we support people with:
Meike Beckford November 29th, 2017