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

"Are you trying to help...the Circle?"

I proposed a circle policy that our tactical meetings should be scheduled for 30 minutes. Another circle member objected that it would cause harm by:

"We'd lose people who are fully booked who would skip out after a half hour, and it would force an urgency in a circle that just expanded by absorbing another circle - it would be a more gentle on-boarding to our circle for newer members."

She confirmed that it would cause harm & wasn't safe enough to try, but when I asked her, "Does this limit one of your roles? Or are you trying to help another role or the whole circle?" -- she answered "the whole circle".

She was frustrated, and other circle members confused about why that invalidated the tension. It's really clear to me why "helping another role" would be invalidating, but why "helping the whole circle" on something that is shared like the tactical  meeting format?

11 Replies
Dien Kwik
02/23/2016

Hi, Fred:

I believe the reason for this isnthat there is already a role that is reaponsible for the whole circle -> the Lead Link.

The objector can bring it to the lead link to introduce a new tension to fix this if the Lead Link believes it is harming or moving the circle backwards.  The Lead Link can ofcourse do this immediately after hearing that the objection was dropped because it was 't limiting the objector's role.

I also often  wonder about this myself,because there is somehow this selfish hints to it, and we all want people who thinks about the whole circle ahead of their own roles actually.

Anyways, that's the way I understand it

 

 

 

Fred Magovern
02/24/2016

Thanks Dien. When I brought up the possibility of raising this tension/proposal in the most recent coaching hour with Oliver, he pointed out that any circle member would have grounds to raise this, not just the Lead Link.

If that's true, I'm wondering why it would only be the Lead Link that could object from within their role.

Really hoping others chime in too!  

Olivier Compagne
02/24/2016

Fred, 

It all depends on the tension, that's the key. The Lead Link may raise an objection on behalf of the whole circle. Another circle member may only raise an objection based on a tension sensed from one of their roles.

That circle member may be sensing a tension from their role and this tension may *also* be sensed by other circle members in other roles, including the Lead Link. But it's irrelevant for the purpose of testing the objection. 

Perhaps the test question could be improved — it's meant to ask an either/or question, where the options are mutually exclusive. And in this case, it's admittedly not very clear:

"Does this limit one of your roles? Or are you trying to help another role or the whole circle?"

A better way to ask the question would be:

"Would the proposal limit one of your roles? Or are you just trying to help another role or the circle in general?"

By definition, if you're helping one of your roles you're also helping the circle. The key is whether you are just trying to help the circle in general, but your role(s) wouldn't be impacted by the proposal. If so, then it's not a valid objection.

On the other hand, if the proposal would limit one of your roles, then you pass this testing criteria, even though you might also be helping other roles and the circle by raising that objection.

Hopefully that makes more sense!

PS: by the way the variant of the question above is the version we're currently working on to update the language of the meeting cards. I would suggest yet another tweak: "Would the proposal limit one of your roles? Or are you simply trying to help another role or the circle in general?"

Paul Codd
02/25/2016

I'm part of a team considering using Holacracy and have a query prompted by this discussion. When teams are just starting out with Holacracy it is likely that their governance records are pretty far from optimum. In that case, some people who are used to holding larger spaces, for example ex-managers will perhaps be able to sense tensions that are very useful to process but that fall somewhere in the many gaps in the current governance records. For example these might require 3 or 4 governance steps to do address these tensions. For example, create a new role, remove an accountability from another role, give it to the new role, and create a policy applying to the whole circle.

I gather from this thread that anyone can sense and process tensions on behalf of the whole circle, although only the lead link can object on behalf of the whole circle. Is there an expectation that the person with the tension goes to the LL first to see if they want to take it to governance? If the LL doesn't sense the same tension, but the other person (who's own roles are not directly affected) still does sense it, does it die there, or can the other person still process it in governance?

Fred Magovern
02/25/2016

@Oliver: So I'm pretty sure she was objecting on behalf of the circle as a whole and circle members (not roles per say, including hers), so her objection likely would've borne out as invalid. Would the Lead Link be able to object on behalf of the circle though since their purpose is "The Lead Link holds the Purpose of the overall Circle"? In other words, is objecting on behalf of the circle the same thing as objecting for their role as the Lead Link?


 
@Paul:
 

For example these might require 3 or 4 governance steps to do address these tensions. For example, create a new role, remove an accountability from another role, give it to the new role, and create a policy applying to the whole circle.

In case you don't know, a proposal in governance can include multiple parts, so all of these changes could be accomplished in a single proposal.
 
I gather from this thread that anyone can sense and process tensions on behalf of the whole circle, although only the lead link can object on behalf of the whole circle.
 
I don't think that's the case - circle members can only process tensions and object on behalf of one of their roles. The question I have is (see above) "is the Lead Link objecting on behalf of the circle the same as objecting on behalf of their role?"
Olivier Compagne
02/25/2016
Fred Magovern posted:

Would the Lead Link be able to object on behalf of the circle though since their purpose is "The Lead Link holds the Purpose of the overall Circle"? In other words, is objecting on behalf of the circle the same thing as objecting for their role as the Lead Link?

Yep, exactly

Paul Codd
03/05/2016
Fred Magovern posted:

Thanks Dien. When I brought up the possibility of raising this tension/proposal in the most recent coaching hour with Oliver, he pointed out that any circle member would have grounds to raise this, not just the Lead Link.

Does this mean that anyone can raise a tension on behalf of the whole circle (even if it's not from one of their current roles) but only the LL can object to it on behalf of the circle as a whole?  If so, is this the case for Governance as well as Tactical meetings?

circle members can only process tensions and object on behalf of one of their roles.

If this is the case, and tensions/proposals are only valid if they are being sensed by an existing role, in cases such as new Holacracy implementations where governance records may be far from optimum, or where the operating environment has changed radically and quickly, meaning internal governance has been rendered inadequate, this restriction may significantly delay the process of quickly finding a new equilibrium. Unless I already have the authority I can't contribute to the circle's ability to discover the need for changes to the way authority is structured. Surely that can't be the way it works? What if I'm sensing the low voltage light and the plane's headed for a potential crash?

Olivier Compagne
03/05/2016
Paul Codd posted:

Does this mean that anyone can raise a tension on behalf of the whole circle (even if it's not from one of their current roles) but only the LL can object to it on behalf of the circle as a whole?  If so, is this the case for Governance as well as Tactical meetings?

No you can only process a tension in governance on behalf of one of your role. It has to be something limiting one of your roles in some way. In Fred's example, the tension is about the tactical meeting timebox, so it's reasonable to think that any circle member could process it — since every circle member shows up at tactical meetings, they are all impacted by changes made to the process.

There is no objective right or wrong answer as to whether a proposal or an objection is valid: the Facilitator has to test it to find out. If I facilitated, I would ask the objector whether it's impacting her in one of her roles.

If she said something like:

"It impacts all of my roles because I show up at tactical meetings every week. I need more than 30 min to process my items, and I need to make sure others have time to process their items too because I rely on their roles for a bunch of things and need to feel confident they're processing everything they need."


Then she gave me a reasonable argument for why it impacts her roles, and I would chart the objection as valid. 

However if she said something like:

"Well it doesn't impact my roles in any way, 30 minutes are enough for me to process my items generally. However, I worry that others may need more time and I want to make sure that they're not feeling rushed."


I might dig a little bit to find out what exactly is her concern about others feeling rushed. If it's really just a general concern for their well-being, then she would have just told me she's not objecting on behalf of her roles, but rather out of concern for the impact it might have on others. That would not be a valid objection. I would further coach her (and the circle) that if others indeed do have an issue with the 30 min timebox, they should raise an objection.

Makes sense?

Now if you are in the Lead Link role, your role represents the entire circle so you can process any tension that impacts the circle (whether you're proposing or objecting). 



If this is the case, and tensions/proposals are only valid if they are being sensed by an existing role, in cases such as new Holacracy implementations where governance records may be far from optimum, or where the operating environment has changed radically and quickly, meaning internal governance has been rendered inadequate, this restriction may significantly delay the process of quickly finding a new equilibrium. Unless I already have the authority I can't contribute to the circle's ability to discover the need for changes to the way authority is structured. Surely that can't be the way it works? What if I'm sensing the low voltage light and the plane's headed for a potential crash?

Criteria for valid governance proposals in Constitution 4.1 are in article 3.2.2: Criteria for Valid Proposals. It also says: 

A Proposal is always valid regardless of the preceding criteria if it is made solely to help evolve the Circle’s Governance to more clearly reflect activity that is already happening, or to trigger a new election for any Elected Role.

In other words, if you're already doing some work not currently captured in governance, you can propose changes to governance to reflect that work (e.g. creating a new role).

If you're sensing something else, then you can always go talk to the Lead Link or any other role you think might resonate with this tension, and suggest that they process it. Or even propose processing it on their behalf if you think you know better how to articulate it; if they give you that permission, you're good to go.

If however 1) they don't resonate with the tension you're sensing, and 2) you're not just trying to capture some governance to reflect work that's already being done, then you're right, you will not be able to process that tension directly in governance. This is meant to protect the circle from people having "great ideas" that are not grounded in actual experience from reality.

Hope that clarifies!

Paul Codd
03/06/2016

That clarifies. Thanks Olivier. And it makes good sense. Is there an assumption that anyone can do anything that they think progresses the work of the circle towards its purpose, unless they are explicitly prevented from doing so by governance (by for example a domain or policy held by another role)?

Olivier Compagne
03/06/2016

@Paul: It's not an assumption - there is a rule for that

If you're acting to serve one of your roles, then you can take any action you deem useful to express its purpose or accountability (article 1.3: Authority to Act).

If you're NOT acting to serve one of your roles, then you may still act, but this would be considered an Individual Action, and there are some conditions for you to consider before and after taking action (article 4.3: Individual Action).

Paul Codd
03/07/2016

Thanks Olivier. I actually knew this already, but had forgotten. This is a critical piece of emphasis and makes a clear distinction from what most people are used to. It's easy for people that are not very experienced, like me, to get a little lost by focusing on the rules, regs and roles. Relying on old paradigms to interpret the new system, one looks to roles to see what people are authorised to do, whereas it seems the explicit assumption in Holacracy is that you are authorised to do anything to progress the work of the circle so long as it is not restricted by other people's roles or policies. Even then, under certain urgent circumstances...

This simple realisation has deepened my understanding and appreciation of the system very significantly so thanks again.