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


We use retrospectives in H1.Their purpose is unique and doesn't fit the Tactical or Governance meeting structure as you and Eliana stated. 

I would recommend having "a facilitator" with a specific process in mind, which you probably already have. 

Regardless, one important step (or expectation) would be to emphasize that people should be taking notes on tensions to process as a result of the retrospective. Those tensions then could be governance or tactical. This ensures that the retrospective stays focused on its purpose, which is surfacing data (i.e. generating tensions).

Though again, I've seen retrospectives combined with brainstorming, so it can work, just pointing out that processing tensions still needs to be grounded by the individuals who feel them. So, we'll requests projects and next actions of each other, take notes ourselves on tensions we feel, and then basically it's on each person to process their tensions accordingly. This should be all that's needed unless the governance is off somehow. And if the governance does need to be updated...well, of course you do that in a governance meeting. 

My point is, even if (and maybe especially if) you're brainstorming things like a group process, watch out for setting implicit expectations. In my experience, the retrospective surfaces interesting data which informs how I'll decide to energize my roles, meaning I may not see a need to change any governance (my interpretation got updated). But that shouldn't stop someone else from bringing a tension to governance that they want to solve.

So, don't try solving governance issues outside of a governance meeting. And IMHO...the best way to avoid that, is make sure everyone knows that they should be documenting any tensions they feel (to be processed later).

The only exception to this might be if there is clearly a process owner (say a role accountable for "Defining the process for...") in which case the entire retrospective might be geared towards that role as the decision-maker. Kinda like how our Strategy Meeting Process involves several people, but is really just for the Lead Link to figure out what to do about it. In which case, it's more obvious that everyone else in attendance is really just a datapoint to help one specific role.