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

Are Strategies and Priorities an implicit domain of the Lead Link?

Domain ambiguity

2.2.2 Defines Priorities & Strategies

A Circle’s Lead Link may define relative priorities for the Circle. In addition, the Lead Link may define a more general“Strategy” for the Circle, or multiple Strategies, which are heuristics that guide the Circle’s Roles in self-identifying priorities on an ongoing basis.

It is my interpretation that the above paragraph of the Constitution creates, by making explicit of "who may do what", an implicit "Priorities and Strategies of the Circle" domain and delegates it to the Lead Link.

However the "APPENDIX A - DEFINITION OF CORE ROLES" makes no mention of such domain.

In the practice, I feel like "Priorities & Strategies" are treated like a domain.

Accountability ambiguity

Moreover the  "APPENDIX A - DEFINITION OF CORE ROLES" describes an accountability of the Lead Link : "Establishing priorities and Strategies for the Circle" whereas 2.2.2 expresses an allowance ("may").

I see a difference between what "one may do" and "one is expected to do". 

In the practice, I feel like "Priorities & Strategies" are treated like an accountability.



9 Replies
Chris Cowan

[@mention:586501884352325570] Yes, good question. Understanding priorities really require connecting two sections of the constitution. First, as you point out, is the one about the Lead Link having an accountability for defining them. 

The second part you need is 4.1.3(c), which is about the duties every partner has. It says, "(c) Circle Needs Over Individual Goals: You must integrate and align with any official prioritizations or Strategies of the Circle, such as those specified by the Circle’s Lead Link, when assessing how to deploy your time, attention, and other resources to your work within the Circle.

Combining these two sections means that the Lead Link doesn't technically have a domain on setting priorities, but the Lead Link's prioritization is the ONLY ONE a partner must align with. So, technically anyone could give anyone else a prioritization, but technically you have absolutely no obligation to listen to it. 

In practice, however, it's effectively like a domain which is why it seems that way.  Metrics work the same way. The Lead Link doesn't have a domain on them, but 4.1.1(b) and 4.2.1(b) and 4.2.3(c) all state that you only have to report on the ones assigned by the Lead Link. 

So, it's definitely confusing, but that's how I understand it. In summary, while it's not technically a domain, it effectively acts like one.

Benoit Pointet

Wow thanks [@mention:455886150941203371].

Combining these two sections means that the Lead Link doesn't technically have a domain on setting priorities, but the Lead Link's prioritization is the ONLY ONE a partner must align with. 

Can you give a detailed reasoning? Imho "such as those specified by the Circle’s Lead Link" provides an example and does by no mean lean towards "Lead Link's prioritization is the ONLY ONE a partner must align with".

Chris Cowan

[@mention:586501884352325570] Well, I think the phrase "such as" is used because that authority could be delegated to another role, i.e. removed from the Lead Link. 

Chris Cowan

[@mention:586501884352325570] Great! I already added a comment on it and I agree.  


The experience I've had is that since the Lead Link holds the role of the circle...the super circle created a role that became a circle and the LL holds that role. The super circle articulate the purpose (raison d'etre) for that circle, and that is used to prioritize the output of that circle. Given that the LL is fully accountable for all outcomes of that circle on behalf of the Super Circle, it functions pretty well to have them hold the functional responsibility of prioritization. 
In practice, prioritization is held by the people doing the work until their work is no longer fulfilling the purpose of the circle (the LL's purpose). Once a role is not delivering what is expected, the LL takes a more active role in that roles outputs...which often includes prioritization. 

Rachel Hunt

I appreciate all the comments above, but I would ask this: What tension are you trying to resolve? It seems to me that you would only need the answer to this question if: A. someone other than the lead link is setting priorities and no one knows if they are required to follow them
or B. the lead link is failing to set priorities that someone else thinks are necessary.
In both cases, I would think that this should be easily resolvable by bringing the tension to the circle. 
What am I missing here?

Benoit Pointet

FTR I closed the github issue, after exchanges in the issue thread with [@mention:449974511354699742] . 5.0 changes the game a bit.

[@mention:580449087370309526] , to my original tensions and the context of their occurence:

As a Lead Link, I need to have clear understanding of my role, in its authorities and accountabilities. As hinted in my initial post, "setting priorities and strategies" is an ambiguous authority – is it a clear domain of the Lead Link? – and an "ambiguous accountability" – is it something others can truly expect of the Lead Link? – in version 4.1 of the Constitution.

As a Holacracy Coach, I need to accompany client organisations (including the one I work for) in their interpretation and use of these levers. Ambiguity hurts here also.

Rachel Hunt

 Thanks for clarifying your tension. I'm not an expert and these are just my personal thoughts. I can certainly understand why you would want to thoroughly understand your role, especially as a coach.  

As I see it, priorities and strategies are actually answers to questions. When someone becomes confused about the way they should make decisions within their role such that they support the purpose of the organization, or if there is a tension that decisions could be better aligned with the purpose of the organization, those questions are answered with priorities and strategies, usually (but perhaps not always) set by the lead link.

Also, I think that priorities and strategies could sometimes be interpreted as personal guidelines that each role determines for themselves in fulfilling their purpose, only to be changed if there is a tension associated with them. 
It occurs to me that the idea of setting priorities and strategies absent any tension could be a legacy of top down thinking.

Perhaps the constitution is vague on this point because it kind of depends on the situation. 

It makes sense for the lead link (as responsible for the whole circle) to be responsible for priorities and strategies within that circle. But there may be situations where others need to take that responsibility. Also, roles within the circle are supposed to have authority to do things their own way as long as the purpose of their role is filled, so giving the lead link absolute authority over strategies could be in violation of that IF there is no tension to resolve. 

I'm curious to know what others think about this.