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

"assigning" Next Actions and Projects to absent role holders in the tactical meeting

Maybe trivial:

During triaging tensions in the Tactical a Project is requested for a role who is not represented by a partner in the meeting due to other commitments of the individual.

4.2.4 states:
If a Defined Role of the Circle is entirely or partially unrepresented at a Tactical Meeting due to someone’s absence, the Circle’s Lead Link may act within that Role to cover the gap.

So should the Project be assigned to the LL or to the absent partner who energizes the role that holds the corresponding accountability?

As the partner is not present in the meeting, he cannot actually "accept" the Project as stipulated under 4.2.3 e) that states:
"If any Next-Actions or Projects are accepted during this discussion, the Secretary ...."

So the actual question is: How is the "acceptance" of a NA or Project best received by an absent holder of a role?

Thank you for your insights.

5 Replies
Juliane Martina Röll

We assign the project to the specific Role, not to the LeadLink, as the Lead Link is acting in the Role of the absent person, and not as the Lead Link.

(Generally, Projects are assigned to Roles not "partners".)

Acceptance is implied, or given by the LeadLink.

If the proper Role holder, looking at the Tactical Outputs, has a tension with the project that was assigned to them, well, that's a tension.

Does this help?

Hansjuerg Huerzeler

Hello Martina!

Thank you. You are going straight to the point: "Implied acceptance".

Navigating through a power shift phase, I observe many such implied acceptance situations that somehow support the continuation of the shadow power structure.
With the LL acting as "the boss" who commands.

Any thoughts on how do address this?

As I see it, the action of the Lead Link role substituting for the absent role is no different, mechanically, than the Lead Link accepting the request from outside the circle. As Martina states, the lead link accepts the project for the role but this does not mean the Lead Link orders the role to execute the project. There are some things that the absent role holder is obligated to do under the constitution 

4.1.2 Duty of Processing


You have a duty to promptly process messages and requests from your fellow Circle Members, as follows:


(a) Requests for Processing: Other Circle Members may ask you to process any Accountability or Project on a Role you fill in the Circle. If you have no Next-Actions tracked for it, you must identify and capture a Next-Action if there are any reasonable ones you could take. If there are not, you must instead share what you’re waiting on. That must be either a Next-Action or Project tracked by another Role, or a specific event or condition that must happen before you can take further Next-Actions.

(b) Requests for Projects & Next-Actions: Other Circle Members may ask you to take on a specific Next-Action or Project in one of your Roles in the Circle. If you deem it a reasonable Next-Action or Project to take on, you must accept it and track it. If not, then you must either explain your reasoning, or capture and communicate a different Next-Action or Project that you believe will meet the requester’s objective.
So, i feel, no shadow power issue arises. Under the constitution you are obligated to consider project requests but how you wish to conduct your attention and resources is within your authority.

1.2.5 Directing Attention & Resources


Whenever you have time available to act in your Role, you are responsible for considering the potential Next-Actions you could efficiently and effectively do at that point in time, and executing whichever you believe would add the most value to the Organization from among that subset.
I hope this is helpful.
Hansjuerg Huerzeler

Great comments - thank you all.

Gerald Mitterer

Hi Hansjuerg,

Adding to the comments above: if you think that this specific constitutional rule of Lead Link accepting projects for absent circle members is reproducing shadow power structures, worst case you might also think of changing this "default" setting via a policy. But I guess that a joint reflection among circle members to reflect on dynamics experienced fostering/hindering a transition to Holacracy would be a smarter first move.

We did similar exercises with clients and made good experiences with tracking outputs in a public "Implementation Impediment Backlog" (with three columns: identified, work in progress, solved). Surfacing them raises a different level of collective awareness and helps to break often implicit/unconscious patterns. 

- Gerald