Holacracy – what’s different in our daily life?

During the Swiss Web Festival, Laurent Prodon and I hold a workshop about the way we are internally structured. We focused on what it changes in our daily life.
Report of the conference.

Find the slides (FR only) Présentation SWF.

What does it change to be working in an enterprise organized according to a non-hierarchical framework?

Laurent and I went through our usual type of brainstorming in order to prepare this conference: we wrote on the walls and used sticky notes. We were divided about how much we should explain what Holacracy is and how much we should tell about how it feels. As we are both passionate personalities, we went through a great deal of debate! However, we settled on what we consider the main differences between a hierarchical management system and a system based on Holacracy.

Organise the work not the people

A classic hierarchical system would be organized according to the people and their position in the enterprise.


The credo of Holacracy is ‘organise the work, not the people’. It means that we focus on the work to be done, not the people or their position in the enterprise. We think in terms of purposes and the accountabilities they imply.

One person and many role

This is the most important difference for Laurent. The years passing by, he started doing a lot of different things, essential but not necessarily related to his ‘official’ title of Scrum Master. He is supporting the recruitment of new Liipers for example, which is usually related to the HR. He is also doing some Business Development.


Today, thanks to Holacracy, we defined these many roles. What Laurent does is now clear, for him and for others. Today, we know what we can and can’t expect from him.

With a system such as Holacracy, one person can grasp opportunities to develop his or her potential where it is most needed in the enterprise. No one is stopped by a contract or a statement of work. There is room for evolution. In other words, the employee can work where s/he can help fulfill tasks.

A dynamic organisation

The structure is in a direct connection with the teams and the work to be done. The organisation is subject to change any time. A role can be created, modified or cancelled any time that it feels necessary to its purpose. Furthermore, a role does not intend to fit the whole enterprise, but only to provide a solution to a given difficulty.

As a result, the structure of the organisation is constantly evolving and fits at the closest to the needs of the employees and the work to be fulfilled. The organisation chart always represents the reality, what people are actually doing.
For example, some day, a developer in Lausanne meant that it would be useful to have someone doing some Communication work for the project achieved here. In no-time, the role was created, first embodied internally, and eventually someone – me :) – was hired.

Decision making

That is the most important difference for me. A common issue in hierarchical enterprises is the fact that decision, once taken at the top, have to be applied and mirrored in each department. Often the top management will decide something, and the lower levels of management will undergo the decision in their department. As a specialist, you then end up with a project or a task you do not believe into.

In a system like Holacracy, each person is to take relevant decision in order to fulfill his/her roles’ purpose. In other words, each person decides which objectives, KPIs and task is relevant for his/her role(s). There is no decision taken ‘in theory’ with no knowledge of work field.


To conclude: the challenges and the joys

We are just humans. There is sometimes a great deal of scepticism; changing how one thinks or one’s habits is a difficult thing. It happens that I even hear trolls at my lunch breaks. However, in the end, we realize that we are part of something really innovative. This is exciting! And the advantages of the system are far greater: we can evolve and develop with our entreprise. Our workplace suits our needs, not the other way around!


Pictures at the Swiss Web Festival by Sarah Jaquemet

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The fears about innovation and Users’ loyalty – how can a UXer help? Part 1/2

Innovation – what a buzzword! The request for innovation is everywhere, in every request for proposal, even on the lips of some end users. As if companies that do not innovate go bankrupt. End users want exciting experience, and reject change at the same time. It is an ambiguous situation.

Let’s innovate while keeping users happy ! But how?

Innovation: Risky but necessary

Innovation is everywhere! Is every existing thing not good enough and has to be improved? As if we required on a daily basis cutting the edge and exciting experiences! May it be only for pouring coffee in our mugs, or for giving feedbacks to developers who implemented what we co-designed with a client, or for completing a survey, booking a room, making a conference call…

The users of a product know what’s wrong with a product, what is not working properly, what takes too much time. In other words, they know what could be improved. It might be risky  for a company to take the leap, because end users might dislike the change.

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Counting people on stairs – or IoT with a particle photon and node.js

In this article I will show you in 3 easy steps how to actually get started with an IoT a project build with a particle photon and a node.js server in order to have your own dashboard. I admit, IoT is a bit of a trend these days, and yes I jumped on the bandwaggon too. But since visiting the maker faire Zürich I have seen so many enthousiastic people building things, it has also motived me to also try out something. Thats why I decided to count the people that are running up and down our stairs at Liip. Follow along if you are – like me – a total noob when it comes to connecting wires but still want to experience the fun of building IoT devices.


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Drupal Cross-Squad Knowledge Sharing

We do lots of Drupal projects @ Liip, mainly in the Zürich and Fribourg offices. Since Liip is organized in individual and independent squads, we do not have lots of touchpoints or projects which we do cross-office wise. But all the squads doing Drupal have one thing in common: A big interest in Drupal and the strong will to do projects successfully.

If I talk about a “squads doing Drupal”, then don’t think of Developers only, but also of Project Owners, UXers, Business Developers, Designers, Analytics Specialists and so on. With such squads in Zürich and Fribourg, things are done differently. Different sitebuilding, different workflows, different opinions and finally also different projects. This is on the one hand very interesting but on the other hand… weird. Being in the same company, doing the same kind of work but not the same way while not using the same toolbox and processes.

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APIs for the public sector

I recently gave a presentation (in German) at the Beschaffungskonferenz. This is a conference for the public sector to exchange round procurement of IT. There were several tracks some focusing more on legal aspects, different procurement processes and agile development while I presented in the tech track. In my talk I presented some of the more established new development paradigms of the past years. But the key message was that APIs need to become a key aspect of how IT projects are planned for the public sector. Specifically I named transport.opendata.ch as a shining example of how providing existing data via a public API can lead to an entirely new economy of use cases on top of it. The idea is really: “Built it and they will come”.

Update: Another good example of a well documented API in the public sector is api3.geo.admin.ch which we have used for various projects here at Liip in the past already.

Update 2: An article which provides an additional perspective: API First at data.gov.uk

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A recap of PyCon UK 2016

PyCon UK has traditionally taken place in Coventry, but this September it was held in Cardiff, in the beautiful City Hall. We shared the space with several weddings — including one between a ladybird and a fireman, part of the City of the Unexpected celebrations of Roald Dahl!

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Startup tool inspiration – what we use

Liip has a fair number of startup customers who often struggle with finding the right set of tools, so I will share here a bit what we are using on a daily basis. We traditionally use a lot of open source tools in our projects. For our infrastructure tooling we also use a fair bit of open source but also an ever increasing amount of SaaS products. Additionally we build some tools internally, some of which we have made open source. One of my holacracy roles is called “Platform Gardener” with the purpose “Provide corporate-wide streamlined digital services and tools”. This role gives me a pretty good overview of the tools we use, which I would like to share below.

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Data-Journalism and scraping skills – Report of a meet-up

Tuesday 27th September, at Liip Lausanne, we had the pleasure to welcome Barnaby Skinner from SonntagsZeitung and Tages-Anzeiger and Paul Ronga from Tribune de Genève for a meet-up about data-journalism. You’ll find the slides and further readings here.

During the summer I came across a news, written by Barnaby Skinner about a 3 months course at Columbia University in New York, that he was attending with Paul Ronga (from Tribune de Genève) and Mathias Born (from Berner Zeitung). The course was mainly intended for journalists, teaching them to gather data, improve their analytic skills (for example with Python, Panda libraries, SQL, combining the three, scraping with BeautifulSoup and using Selenium for automated scraping).

Finding the theme extremely interesting, I invited both Barnaby Skinner and Paul Ronga, at Liip Lausanne to tell us more on the subject.

Why are Scraping Skills Important, Especially For Swiss (and Other European) Journalists, Researchers or App Developers?

You can find the slides Datajournalism_Presentation.

The US government, data driven US companies, NGOs, Thinktanks make so much data available. At least when you compare it to Swiss and European governments or companies. That’s why scraping skills are all the more valuable for Swiss journalists, researchers, app developers: in so many cases the data is actually there. It’s just not structured in a way that is easily machine readable.
Starting with the basics, we will discuss more elaborate and sophisticated scraping techniques, using examples and, discussing and sharing some sample code.
By Paul Ronga and Barnaby Skinner

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When Innovation Exceeds the User Need – The iCloud Case Study

Yesterday I saw a video about a talk given by Johnny Chung Lee, a Human Computer Interaction researcher currently working at Google on the Project Tango platform, at Stanford HCI Seminar – «Interface Technologies That Have Not Yet Left the Lab». I was impressed about the amount of extraordinary ideas which still haven’t reached the market. For many of them the time hasn’t yet come. Though as Johnny Lee mentions, one of the reasons why they may fail is the lack of good Experience Design. Interfaces are there to capture the user need. Technologically driven people still tend to ignore the frustration felt by a user when he/she can’t achieve his/her goal. The over-excitement about new technology blinds them and puts the user into second place. That’s why one should always ask oneself – Why should a user use my product?

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Lektor Static CMS, put the fun back into Content Management

So yet another static website generator, I hear you saying.

It’s true that there are a lot of static generators, but if you look a bit closer you’ll soon realise that Lektor is really a different beast.
But how different? Before we discover its features, let me briefly step back and give you some context.

How it began

A few months ago, I was in the market for a static website generator for a private project.
Of course, I had already heard about Jekyll, Fabricator and a few others but I wanted to make an “informed buy” so I started to look around and eventually checked out StaticGen,
possibly the biggest listing of static generators.
Now, you know, word of mouth is much more powerful than billions of accurate researches so a colleague of mine, Jean-Christophe, recommended Lektor to me.
I started reading the documentation and after a few minutes I was sold.

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