12 Holonomic Processes

Dr. Kenneth D. Mackenzie's
The Practitioner's Guide to Organizing Organizations (PGOO)

holonomic processes Holonomic processes determine how well an organization is organized.

"When it comes to understanding Organizational and Leadership theory, our colleague, Professor Ken Mackenzie, is one of the thought leaders in the world," according to top family business expert Don Schwerzler "Understanding how smart "governance" practices influence the decision-making process in a family business is crucial to the growth of the family business - and to the professionalization of the management style of a family business."

"If a family business fails to professionalize the management style of the business and fails to formalize the communication system for the family, the successful transition from one generation to the next becomes much more difficult," notes Schwerzler.

Schwerzler has been studying and advising family business entreprenuers for more than 40 years and he is the founder of the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute. Professor Ken Mackenzie's research and experience have uncovered 12 Holonomic Processes that combine and interact to produce the six Desired Organizational Characteristics.

Each of the holonomic processes is a verbal phrase signifying that the process is continually operating to help the organization adapt to change.

The description of each of the holonomic processes is not in the form of a checklist, as is the case for the six Desired Organizational Characteristics. Rather, each holonomic process is described in terms of its meaning in order to capture the operational flavor of these key processes. The actual means and procedures vary with the organization. What is important here is to communicate the general sense of each of the 12 holonomic processes.

The Twelve Holonomic Processes

Is your business well-organized for improvement and success?

The Practitioner's Guide for Organizing an Organization

is a powerful new model that takes into account
both processes and people.
  • PGOO shows how to identify the most pressing problems to solve
  • PGOO introduces the ODS_OL Assessment process - an electronic assessment tool that is highly effective, easy to use, systematic and data-based
  • PGOO explains how to produce a better-organized organization

HP 1. Establishing and Maintaining Clear Strategic Direction

Establishing means defining:

  • The organizational philosophy, vision, and mission statement,
  • The goals for each mission,
  • The strategies for achieving the goals,
  • The long-range strategic, tactical, and annual operating plans for implementing the strategies, and
  • Establishing organization-wide policies, guidelines, and practices.

Maintaining means:

  • Performing a reality check based upon utilization of operating results and
  • Making necessary adjustments.

Clear strategic direction is established and maintained across the organization as a whole, and for each of its units and Associates.

HP 2. Defining and Updating the Organizational Logic

Defining means specifying:

  • The tasks,
  • The task resources and their characteristics-in-use,
  • The deployed Technological Support Systems, and
  • The interdependencies among and between all of the above, and the positions.

Updating means adjusting:

  • The Organizational Logic and
  • The deployed technologies

as needed to keep them congruent with operating results.

HP 3. Ensuring Best Decision-Making

A best decision meets seven criteria:

  1. Due diligence indicates that it is workable
  2. The organization benefits
  3. As many other stakeholders benefit as possible
  4. The harm to any stakeholder is minimized
  5. It is the right thing to do (ethically)
  6. It is congruent with the Strategic Direction
  7. It is best overall for the organization.

Executives and managers, who are themselves Associates, through personal example, rewards, and sanctions, work continually to ensure that all Associates make best decisions.

HP 4. Adapting to Ensure Position Clarity

A position is clear when:

  • The Position Logic is well-defined
  • The Position-Specific Technological Support System is well understood
  • The position rewards systems are well-defined
  • The interdependencies with other positions are known, and
  • The Associate understands and is capable of performing the tasks of the position.

Adapting to Ensure Position Clarity includes the processes of changing each of the above as conditions change.

HP 5. Ensuring Systematic Planning that Is Workable, Involved and Understood

Systematic planning means that, as environmental or internal operating conditions change, the planning process involves all of the elements of the ABCE model.

Workable plans are plans which can be implemented with a "good stretch effort."

Involved means that all Associates, at the levels appropriate to their positions, are part of systematic planning.

Understood means that all Associates comprehend the overall plan and their specific roles within it as it is implemented.

Ensuring means:

  • The organization has processes in place for updating and using all aspects of the ABCE model, and
  • These processes are deployed throughout the organization.

HP 6. Integrating Associate Selection, Development and Flow with the Strategic Direction

The traditional view of an employee assumed that he or she held a traditional job and needed to know only what was necessary to carry out assigned tasks. Eras of fundamental change require a new type of Associate. The new Associate requires broader knowledge than the traditional employee in order to perform satisfactorily. He or she needs to be trained and developed and employed as a resource in order to remain productive and help to achieve the Strategic Direction of the organization.

What the new Associate needs to know goes beyond just the narrower tasks defined by his or her position requirements. The new Associate must also understand how he or she fits in the organization and more about the interdependencies in which he or she may be involved. The new Associate takes responsibility for his or her unit and the organization as a whole and ensures that best decision-making occurs.

Integrating means:

  • The hiring and selecting, orientation, and continual training and development of all Associates is linked to the Strategic Direction and to
  • The deployed Technological Support Systems.

The humane use of human beings is strategic and thus proactive. The quality of all Associates is enhanced to support the Strategic Direction.

HP 7. Nurturing and Rewarding Opportunistic and Innovative Problem Solving

Rapid change creates needs to identify and act upon opportunities as well as innovate new solutions. Recognition of problems and opportunities which "cut across" existing organizational lines is crucial. This Holonomic Process encourages and rewards all Associates to seek out opportunities that benefit the organization and to engage in innovative problem solving.


  • New product teams
  • Quality improvement teams
  • Process management teams

HP 8. Ensuring Healthy Problem Solving throughout the Organization

Healthy Problem Solving includes processes for:

  • Review and resolution of conflict,
  • Enhancing the quality of forums/meetings,
  • Encouraging personal growth, empowerment, and
  • Openness to change.

Organizational problem solving is unhealthy when:

  • Who is right is more important than what is right
  • Politics are used to make a decision
  • Conflict is personalized
  • Information sharing is distorted and manipulated and when
  • The object is to assign blame, enhance one's position at the expense of others, or avoid responsibility.

HP 9. Setting Tough and Realistic Performance Standards

Setting performance standards that:

  • Are attainable by extra effort throughout the whole organization (including all Associates), and
  • Link rewards and personal stakes of all Associates to the success of the organization.

HP 10. Operating Equitable and Effective Rewards Systems

Organizational rewards systems are defined by the intention that Associates who produce should share in the organization's results which they help to create by being given financial rewards and opportunities for non-monetary benefits such as improved quality of work life, career growth, and earned recognition.

There are two sides to any Organizational Rewards System: (I) a commitment by the organization to offer competitive total compensation and to reward superior performance in such a way that it is tied to organizational success, and (2) the Associate's understanding of the organizational rewards and the responsibilities for personal performance and for the performance of his or her team and other Associates or units with which the tasks are interdependent.

Equitable means that the rewards systems are fair, legitimate, and promote compatibility of interest.

Effective means the rewards systems serve to motivate Associates to contribute to the organization's success.

HP 11. Ensuring Compatibility of Interest

The idea is to make sure that all ships rise and fall with the tide. It does not mean equal amounts for all Associates but just that they are proportional. This is based on the notion of enlightened greed which means that you succeed by helping others succeed when they help you succeed. Enlightened greed is mutually supporting whereas greed alone is destructive. Ensuring compatibility of interests builds the organizational commons that creates a community among the Associates of an organization.

HP 12. Encouraging and Rewarding Ethical Behavior for All Associates.

Ethics are the "rules of the road" that unite the members of a community. Ethics serve to balance the good of the organization and the interests of its members. Ethics govern the organizational commons. Ethics are necessary to manage cross functional problems and holistic change and bring in the social and human dimensions to supplement technical and financial factors.

Ethical behavior simplifies decision-making, prevents later problems, and is strongly motivational. The main idea is to support one's Associates, by personal example and rewards, to do what is the right thing to do all the time.

These Holonomic Processes should be operating everywhere in the organization if it hopes to have the six Desired Organizational Characteristics.

Is your business well-organized for improvement and success?

The Practitioner's Guide for Organizing an Organization

is a powerful new model that takes into account
both processes and people.
  • PGOO shows how to identify the most pressing problems to solve
  • PGOO introduces the ODS_OL Assessment process - an electronic assessment tool that is highly effective, easy to use, systematic and data-based
  • PGOO explains how to produce a better-organized organization

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