Holacracy Community of Practice Archive, 2015-2019 Community Holacracy Web Site


One element of answer I have to offer is that the organization can only govern its own people processes, not the people themselves. The domain of "Partner Relationships" really means "how the organization will relate to the partners".

A relationship is a two-sided affair; you cannot control the other person, but you can control yourself and how you agree to engage in a relationship. If the other party doesn't want to engage in a relationship with you under some terms that are for you non-negotiable, then it's a sign that you shouldn't enter or sustain the relationship. 

I understand the relationship between the organization and its partner in the same way. So it's completely fair for the organization to make decisions (e.g. policies) as to how it's going to relate to its partners. These decisions then become conditions that the partners have to agree to if they want to stay in relationship with the organization. (And of course as in any relationship, if the organization has any interest in keeping those relationships healthy, it's generally a good idea to check with the partners first before implementing any radical change, vs. imposing a change...)

I know there is more nuance to your question than what I'm answering — e.g., what is appropriate to decide via governance vs. via a partnership agreement outside of governance, etc. But at least, in the specific example of H1's Partnership Structure policy that you use, I think this distinction is helpful.