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

Hey Keith,

I think your instinct of concern here is spot-on.  While I think the advice-process approach is a leap forward from conventional management, I think it actually pulls backwards on the paradigm Holacracy aims for.  At least, it does when required as a blanket policy, without some more distinctions (e.g. which decisions require it? There are a hundred decisions I make every day, from tiny to big, and from easy-to-change to stuck-with-for-awhile - which require seeking advice, and why?).

That said, the wisdom behind requiring an advice process still seems very relevant in some contexts in a Holacracy-powered organization.  I just wouldn't require it by default, and instead let tensions drive what's needed.  Perhaps certain roles need an accountability for seeking advice - if so, great, figure that out and add an accountability.  And perhaps there are some decisions that you always want to require getting advice for (or more than just getting advice: integrating objections) - if so, great, define a policy to cover those, based on real tensions.  As just one example of how we've integrated the wisdom/value I see in the advice process, without the pull backwards you're sensing, see this policy of HolacracyOne (and note it came from real tensions, not theory):

In any role, before you implement a major decision that will be significantly difficult or expensive to reverse, you must first share your intent to do so with any role that may reasonably be significantly impacted by the decision. You must then delay your decision for a reasonable timeframe to allow those roles to consider the potential decision, respond to any clarifying questions, and consider any reactions shared. If any role so impacted raises a valid Objection to your intended decision, you must further integrate that Objection before proceeding, unless a relevant Lead Link (or another duly authorized role) issues a prioritization decision that indicates the Objection would be a significantly lower priority for the circle to resolve than the tension behind the proposal.

Finally, let me add a question:  This proposal your colleague is making to require an advice process; where is it coming from?  Is there a real situation that has surfaced a concrete tension for a specific role?  Or is it coming from theory - from the abstract idea that an advice process is a good thing?  If the latter, kill it with the rules for testing proposals - it has no place in a Holacracy-powered company.  If the former, that's awesome - get the concrete example you're trying to solve for on the table, and figure out what policy or accountability would effectively dissolve that one tension.  In other words, keep it evolutionary...

Hope that helps!

- Brian