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

Hi [@mention:449833773730792463], thanks for your quick reply and suggestions regarding incorporating some kind of simulation of operational “work” that can be distributed to relevant roles and make tensions surface – see how “Captain Sonar” does this quite effectively, albeit in order to punish an opponent which is something I’d rather avoid. “Pandemic’s” focus on the Other being the obstacle of the game itself (curing diseases) is somewhat more peaceful, in my opinion.

Also, nice to see fellow Pandemic and D&D fans!

Can I ask, regarding your 5-day training that includes 2 – 3 days of simulation, do I understand correctly that the signed-up organization’s representative (ratifier?) brings in her knowledge of her own organization – e.g., its current structure and known tensions – which is then used for the simulation?

When I was wrapping my head around Holacracy over the summer, for a class at school, I ran a governance meeting elicitation exercise for newcomers wherein they were initially given named roles with no explicit accountabilities, purpose or domains at a fictional tech company. During this first 30min phase they were tasked to come up with 2 – 3 emergent tech ideas for any kind of industry for which they would deliver a 5min pitch at a fictional tech-fair hoping to attract investors.

During phase 2 the members were told they had successfully attracted an interested investor who wants to do a bit of match-making before jumping on board. This investor asks the members of the tech organization to meet for 60mins to devise how they would do the phase 1 exercise again knowing some tensions that might have had surfaced earlier. They would be asked to utilize a specific meeting-process manual: Holacracy governance meeting process.

The members elected two of them for the additional roles of facilitator and secretary who held the manual and went through each step reading out loud each page similar to when people are learning a board game together. This was my main hypothesis: can the rules of Holacracy be learned this way or not? (spoiler alert: it cannot, unsurprisingly, really).

Here’s a breakdown of the insights I gained from observing and getting feedback:

1. Check-in Round: worked like a charm.

2. Administrative Concerns: no issues.

3. Agenda Building …

  • Even though the manual given to them specifically states what a tension is in Holacracy terms, the member filling the participator role did not convey this particularly well so there were fuzzy distinctions of the term for each member. This proved to be pretty problematic, since the subsequent steps were skewed because of this main misunderstanding of tensions as opportunities for improvements.

4. Integrative Decision-Making …

  • Because members were collectively trying to understand and interpret the meeting process, where not even the facilitator was knowledgable beforehand, consensus and groupthink kept creeping in, for example making the proposer nervous of making proposals and trying to incorporate everyone’s Reactions in the Amend & Clarify round.
  • Facilitator was not ruthless enough when protecting the process (presumably because he was not familiar enough with the process) which let consensus and fake-quarterbacking creep in.
  • At some point, I couldn’t help myself and butted in a bit reminding the facilitator and secretary of the valid outputs of the governance, and the empty list of Governance Records. There the lightbulb went off and members started creating and amending roles very quickly and efficiently – albeit out of process.

5. Closing round: acted as a feedback session where participants shared their thoughts of the process in general.

Above notes confirmed some aspects, such as …

  • the importance of the facilitator being knowledgable beforehand and not learning the rules at the same time of other participants. How, do you think, does that play out in a board game / simulation? Moreover, if the game is digital, is Holacracy’s framework and the facilitator written into the program itself instead of a player stewarding that role? See this non-working prototype of such a chatbot-of-sorts I created as an exercise (pardon the messy layout).
  • participants saw real learning potential in repeated sessions and wanted to process the leftover agenda items even though the time was up.
  • were frustrated with the slow pace of learning a meeting process where phase 1 somehow incorporated more of a “true” emergent behaviour.
  • Long-term processes vs short-term processes contrasts.

I’ll be sharing my process as it comes a long when developing my project, specifically when figuring out context and opportunities for narrative interventions that enable tension-surfacing for the fictional organization (and hopefully overcoming my bias and assumptions that a simulation in a desk-job context would be too boring and not fantastical enough for user to engage in their own time).

Phew … [@mention:528792613988609658] a.k.a. “The Essay Writer” : O