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

Reply to Taking Questions

By Geoff Topic posted 05/17/2018

Geoff,  a few thoughts, since tactical meetings should feel open enough and like easy wins often, then I am glad you are inquiring into approaches here, to not unnecessarily /unproductively shut things down...if the person wants to take questions, then it sounds like an invitation for questions or an offer to share more information. This can be really practical in some cases. I see it a lot too. I often check, when someone wants to ask, did you want to field the questions, sometimes the person says no.

As facilitator, I don't think I would not shut it down if that is what the agenda item owner wants. Some of us process information in a way that happens better with questions, and sometimes we say we got what we need, when in reality, we want to know if anyone has questions, so don't be fooled by the person saying they want to share and then inviting questions. I appreciate your instinct to get clear on what is happening and who needs it, though I am not sure what constitutionally would mean that is not a valid use of a tactical meeting to field questions. Certainly if others have questions and the agenda item owner is complete, that is a good time to direct others to the agenda, like you are mentioning.

However, if someone is doing a presentation and it seems like they are looking for consensus or are unclear about the authorities, that could be a good opportunity for putting on more of a coach hat and highlight the authority structure, especially for new people or those out of practice or habituated to doing a lot of presentations for buy in.

I also wonder how extensive the presentations are. Presentations are a big part of a lot of teams, so it can be hard to know when to stop and what is relevant for everyone. Perhaps you can set a time box up front occasionally to help, like we have 4 minutes per item, so be mindful if you want to field questions, that there are only a few minutes per item...then when two minutes left, interrupt presenter, time check of about two minutes to let them know they have only a little time left, and align on possible next actions for those that may have follow ups.

Also talk about this pattern in a more open format if there are regular spaces to reflect on experience or learning, so people can have insights about it being okay to not do presentations and take questions, and let others process their own tensions.

Hope that helps.