The #HolacracyFad: Bigger questions to ask in the eve of this craze´s demise

The #HolacracyFad is over, or at least it is finally coming to an end. To me, the demise of this fad is a relief, as it is to most of you, I suppose. But there are bigger questions that the #HolacracyFad should be raising within our community. These issues affect us all. And now is the best time to look at these questions, in earnest.

Niels Pflaeging
3 min readMar 14, 2018

Let us look at the broader implications of the #HolacracyFad. What does the willingness of the community to blindly submit to this craze say about our principles, our theories, as well as about our individual values? What does the story of the #HolacracyFad during the last ten years say about us, as a community?

I will summarize the development this way:

  1. So many were flocking into clearly overpriced and ridiculous courses. (Which is not a problem, but one symptom of the problem)
  2. So many were fooling themselves about what holacracy actually is and does: The cry for “self-organization through holacracy” quickly turned into more than a cry — it turned into screaming. And this screaming, after a while, flooded over into business media, as well.
  3. We saw a community so enthused by the fad that it got pretty much forbidden to openly criticize or question the fad. Critics were silenced by shitstorms, incentivized to withdraw from the debate.

And let us not forget:

The organizational method called holacracy was never (!) harmless.

Now, should that not be a warning to all of us? And a signal that we must urgently change, as a community? I believe it is time to think about principles, within our community. To discuss morality, and debate codes of conduct. Now you might ask: Am I really responsible for this — am I even part of that community? The clear answer is: As you are reading this article, you are clearly part of “the community”.

The demise of the #HolacracyFad is an opportunity that we should not let lightly pass. Otherwise, the next craze is just around the corner!


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Niels is the author of the bestseller Organize for Complexity. How to get life back into work to build the high-performance organization, a highly visualized, dense and entertaining book on leadership, change and learning in the knowledge age. He is also author, together with Silke Hermann, of the forthcoming book Complexitools. Niels is a leadership philosopher, a management exorcist, an international speaker, author, and globally working advisor on leadership. Niels is founder of the international open innovation movement BetaCodex Network, and he was a director with the Beyond Budgeting Round Table for five years. For more about his work, visit, join the BetaCodex Network here on LinkedIn. Niels tweets at



Niels Pflaeging

Leadership philosopher, management exorcist, speaker, author, advisor, publisher, founder. Red42 co-founder. New book: Essays on Beta, Vol. 1