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

Article 4.1 and "Circle Members"

The first section of the Article for Operational Process states "When filling a Role in a Circle, you have the following duties to your fellow Circle Members...". Furthermore, 4.1.4 refers to conveying duties to "someone else" (I believe referring to those outside the circle) through Links, specifically Lead Link, Rep Link or Cross Link.

Is it truly the intent of this section to limit these duties (transparency, processing, and prioritization) to only within circles?

I'm looking for feedback from larger organizations.  My interest is understanding:

  1. How have others been enacting this part of the constitution? 
  2. What kind of interactions outside of a circle is expected?


For context:

Here at Mylo, we've been operating with Holacracy for about a year, and I just started training to be a facilitator a few weeks ago.  When I initially read the constitution a year ago, I assumed that Article Four was referring to anyone within the organization.  In that time, I've been practicing as if my duty is to share projects, next-action, and priorities with anyone who asks, as well as process requests appropriate to any of my roles regardless of where that request comes from.  However, upon closer reading, it seems as if I can exclude those from outside my circle and direct them to an appropriate Link instead.

Curious about other opinions on this topic.


2 Replies
Nico Trinkhaus

Hi Angela,

I can't tell how it should or shouldn't be done, but can share the experience from my organization.

We've adopted Holacracy 2 years ago and have 20 partners (to give context). For long, we interpreted it in the same way you do (duty applies to all, not just to fellow circle members).

Only later we found out that this restriction actually exists in the constitution. Since then we've tried to pay more attention to this and indeed it gave us some more clarity.

1) Partners were more likely to reject a project that they didn't feel is really helping them to achieve the purpose which led to evolution

2) It became much more clear which roles *really* belong to which circle and resolving the tensions thereof benefited the circles as well.


I recognize that the condition that the duties of 4.1 only apply to members is quite often overlooked. The reason i think is that teams and people are not used to managing circle or role boundaries. However I have experienced that organizations with several circles, holding that boundary is fundamental for attaining clarity on what requests you should be prioritizing, just as it is essential to be conscious of what is in your role and when you taking on a project as individual action.