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

Hi Fajar,

 Your issue is recognizable from many examples I have seen.

I think key here is: total clarity about the ‘process’, keeping the process and remaining neutral as a facilitator.

So all circle members learn it is not about ‘good arguments’ and the facilitator is there to facilitate the process (with which people can facilitate themselves) and to rigidly crush out-of-process interactions.

 Tips for facilitation:

  1. Be clear about how much time you are going to allow as a facilitator for each agenda item (easy: allotted time, divided by the amount of agenda items, and a couple of minutes extra for check-out). Of course this may change during the meeting as new agenda items are added, so don’t forget to give an update if relevant (‘hi all, just for your awareness: some new agenda items have been added, so now we have 10 items for 30 minutes so that is 3 minutes on average’).
  2. Cut people off when necessary. So always ask people ‘what do you need’ and if they only provide information (and do not answer your question) you can facilitate them by saying ‘sounds like you need to share information. Great! Just be aware that you have only 3 minutes in this meeting to do so. So you can try your best and be real quick and use your 3 minutes for that. OR you can use the 3 minutes to figure out: what would be a good other moment/time/medium/etc to share this information and request/capture a next action like ‘plan a meeting’ or something like that. It is up to you – just be aware that in all cases I am going to move to the next agenda item after 3 minutes. So, with these options in mind: what do you need right now?’. And then of course move to the next agenda item no matter what.
  3. Important here is to stay NEUTRAL as a facilitator. You write “I tried proposing to create a discussion some other time…”. I think you are working to hard there trying to solve the problem for her and losing your neutral position. Instead I would just, lightly, suggest what options there (the 5 pathways!) are and then leave it entirely to the agenda-item-owner to take care of what she needs. It sounds maybe unfriendly but: you as a facilitator really do not care about her problem or her arguments. You are however willing to help her, within the rules, progressing one first step in the right direction in what she needs and you do that … by keeping her & everybody else in process. By asking: what do you need. And clarifying THEIR 5 pathways.
  4. If this is fairly new for a circle, you provide some framing in a time out at the beginning of the meeting. That might make it easier for people not to take it personally when they are cut off. And make them more familiar with their options, their 5 pathways. This is why, visibly, using the tactical meeting process card really is good practice.