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

Amending a Proposal and coaching from the Facilitator

In our practice environment we ran in to the following situation: somebody makes a Proposal: Marketing to deliver insight on the Advertisement calendar.

In the reaction round, as Facilitator, you inform that this Proposal is NVGO as it is, because if you want to set an expectation on a Role it needs to be ongoing and that you have to do this by adding an Accountability to the role. (as Facilitator I do not tell anything about the verb and the –ing thing. This to see if the Proposer understands the dynamics).

So in Amend & Clarify now the Proposer amends his Proposal to an Accountability on Marketing that sounds: Deliver insight on the Advertisement calendar.

GlassFrog now gives the message that the Accountability should start with a verb ending on –ing.

** What to do as a Facilitator? **

1) Step in to  the process and breach (in a gentile way) the safe space of the Proposer and explain why this pop ups and how to handle this (In process coaching).

2) Respect the safe space of the Proposer and take a time out before closing the Amend & Clarify round to explain and then go back in process and ask the Proposer if he/she wants to amend their proposal based on the information just received.

3) Let it go and raise an objection about NVGO

4) Suggestions on something we did not think of…..

I did option 2 as this felt right for me. I respected the safe space of the Proposer but was still able to steer towards amending the Proposal into Valid Governance output before closing of the round. This to avoid objections based on NVGO.

Please your respond on how you would handle this (which option do you choose) and why?

5 Replies
Jean-Michel Gode

Hi Tom,
I would keep on the process and act as #3.
During the integration step of the IDM, you'll be able to deliver coaching about NVGO and about the proper way to write accountabilities.
In a more general way, don not hesitate to use the reaction round to deliver coaching...
Hope that helps.

Andrea Faré

It is such a small intervention that I wouldn't really consider it a breach of the process,  It's like making an "observation about grammar" while a student talks, if it was about content or logic than I would agree with you, but stepping in here doesn't alter in any way the thought process of the proposer or modify the meaning of what's written.  I would minimze the issue and tell the proposer right away, "let's add an -ing to your starting verb, this is just an holacracy syntax convention to better convey the feeling of something that is ongoing ". If you don't do anything the pop-up will raise questions in the mind of the proposer, that might interrupt his thought process even more than stepping in to explain. In a separate coaching phase you could then clearly explain while it is important that accountabilities have this "ongoing feeling" to them, i.e. they clearly distinguish them from outputs which belong in other artifacts and phases of holacracy practice (projects and actions).

ADD ON: I might have taken Jean Michel's approach if the popup wasn't there because in that case I (not the tool) would have interrupted the thought process of the proposer.

Gerald Mitterer

Hi Tom,

I struggle more with the NVGO objection you are raising, since this is a very hard judgement and especially for beginner groups and people who are not best at phrasing things this is very challenging. I have made the experience that too rigid coaching adds complexity and raises the bar so that people feel frustrated and step back from processing anything at all . Which is the worst thing that can happen IMO.

So I might actually leave it like that and let the process do its job. If it is not clear enough it will show up down the road after a while. However it's phrased it creates some clarity not there before and is thus a minimum viable next step for me. 


Brian Robertson

Tom:  I'd actually just wait to the right moment/pause during amend & clarify (or take a time-out if I couldn't find one) and then quietly tell the Secretary that it's okay for the Secretary to add the -ing on the end of verbs for the proposer, and ask that they just do it.  I really love it when I have a skilled secretary that just does that without me the facilitator even needing to ask...

Tom Mulder

@Brian, Love your approach. It is just a small thing in wording instead of a wrong Proposal or something out of Process. By just showing the right way and ask the Secretary to change it the Participants get the learning. Nice!