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

Reply to Experience in Holacracy

By davidlp Topic posted 02/01/2019

[@mention:577633875651499938] Great question. 

First, Pitch. Meaning, the ex-manager should use the word, "pitch," or otherwise make it clear that they have a strong opinion about this, while also being clear that they aren't mandating or requiring them to agree or do what the ex-manager suggests.

The other key thing on this is to explain why. The ex-manager shouldn't just assert their opinion, they should explain the data or experience they have that leads them to this opinion. 

Finally, consider whether or not the decision or action is easily-reversible (or, "Is it safe enough to try?"). Some decisions aren't worth spending too much time on. Even if they're wrong. That doesn't mean let them walk off a cliff, but more that the ex-manager (or anyone in a similar position) should keep this question in mind. 

So, for example, "Tom, I'd like to pitch you on doing something different here. It's your decision to make, so let me be clear about that, but I tried what you're suggesting with a customer, and they ended up feeling unheard and frustrated with us. We had to spend a lot of time repairing that relationship and we almost lost their business."   

One of the problems I see with new Lead Links is that they pull-back too much. Since they can't "manage" they assume that means they can't share strong opinions, which is probably a good intuition to have because it would be easy for everyone to fall back into old patterns, but it isn't strictly true. What Lead Links actually need to do is add some new phrases to their toolbox. Things like:

  • "I don't have the authority to make this decision for you, but here is what I suggest..." 
  • "I think that's a bad idea. Now, let me be clear, it's your decision to make, but here's why I would go in a different direction..." 
  • "Are you asking for my permission, or just my opinion because you think I have some experience in this area?" 

Again, those are just some examples, but I hope that gives you the gist. Even small little things like saying, "I think..." before sharing an opinion can make a difference. For example, notice the difference between, "That's a bad idea," and, "I think that's a bad idea." 

Second (if needed), Require. Now, there may be some occasions in which a) the decisions are not easily-reversible (i.e. not safe enough to try), AND b) there is a PATTERN of the role-filler failing to integrate that advice. In those cases, the role-filler could be coached by the Lead Link, removed from the role by the Lead Link, or some new governance could be proposed. Two top-of-head examples: 

  • Add an accountability to the role like, "Integrating objections from [X Role] to potential investments for improving development capacity, before committing to those investments." Or whatever the specifics are. The key here is that the ex-manager fills the X role, which provides some sort of advisor function, and that "objections" in this sense is used colloquially.  
  • Adding a policy like this one we have in HolacracyOne: "In any role, before you implement a decision that could have a substantial impact on the organization and where it will be substantially difficult or expensive to undo that impact, you must first share your intent to do so with any partners who you believe could have useful information to inform the decision, or who fill roles likely to be substantially impacted by it. You must then delay your decision for a reasonable timeframe to allow those partners to consider the potential decision and have time to try to address any tensions triggered by it. You must also respond to any clarifying questions they ask, and consider any reactions they share, before you implement the decision."

There may be other concrete ways to appropriately integrate some constraint on one's decision-making, but in general you shouldn't need these. 

I hope that helps!