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

Reply to Project Updates

By Geoff Topic posted 05/17/2018


It is very possible that the projects are not assigned to the right people but I would sense into your tension about the project updates portion of the meeting. Use coaching and facilitation to frame the projects section better and dig into the tension by questioning, to learn with your colleagues how to make changes.

Most people have been in a (non-Holacracy) meeting where project updates go on and on, the person talking seems unaware of others disinterest, information is repeated, unnecessary information is shared, and everyone tunes out. Most people don't like those meetings and don't want their meetings to be like that. It is however hard to see that when you're the one talking. 

I would start with getting information about how others feel the project round is going. You may surface information that enlightens you to the fact that it's not dysfunctional colleagues but learning that is needed. Responding by tightening the rules to say only the project holder can speak would likely feel too rigid not because it's a bad strategy but because you don't have all the information. You can add an item to the agenda and say, "In my role of X I'm feeling tension about our project updates section. I'd like to request information. Do you feel there is anything we could do to make that section work better for you?" You may find that others have a similar tension or surface information about why it's going the way it is. If you're the lead link they may be trying to report to you, to please you. In our organization, we found that people felt pressure to have something to say so we had to do specific practice in training to make it safe to say, "no updates". People in our organization wouldn't record projects because they didn't want to see them and be asked for updates so they avoided recording. I thought it was resistance to the software but it was discomfort with being asked for updates each meeting. 

Once you have a deeper sense of what is going on you can see how you can coach in and outside of meetings to move toward more efficient project updates section.

The facilitator can frame in the moment, "We are going to keep our project updates brief share just what is new since last meeting. Feel free to say no updates if you feel the group is sufficiently in the know." 

Other framing:

- Just share what you think your colleagues need to know for their purpose.

- Just share what others have requested to keep updated on.

- Try to avoid sharing things we may have heard before unless specifically asked.

It is highly unlikely your team wants to sit through a long unproductive project update section but it is possible that this practice of multiple people speaking to give updates help some people see a picture of what work is happening where. You won't know until you ask. 

If you have a tension about where a project lies, add it to the agenda, "I'm looking to get clarity into x project, it is held by y role and I heard a lot of updates from z role. I'm wondering if there are two projects? X that was waiting for some project held by z? Or I wonder if maybe it is recorded inaccurately? Does anyone have any clarity into this?"

This is a learning process and I encourage you to lean into it, try to support others with coaching, training, and facilitation rather than controlling with rigidity. Look for learning from struggles.