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

Circle Accountabilities

Can a circle have an accountability like "Determining budget”?  Our school has a finance role that in the past would bring the budget options to the GCC and then the GCC would vote on it. I imagine in Holacracy determining the budget would become an accountability of the finance role.  We are just onboarding Holacracy. Determining the final budget for the school year, along with other decisions we previously "voted" on, have been accountabilities of the GCC, so we are beginning with that framework. But how will we "decide" what budget to choose in our tactical meeting? It will get raised as a tension and then we would discuss it as a group. Then how do we decide? Do we vote on it as we did before? That doesn't seem aligned with Holacracy.

I'm getting the sense that decisions of this nature can't be a circle's accountability. I'm curious how this all interacts with the lead links job to allocate resources. Would it also be the GCC lead links job to decide on the budget for the year? In looking at Holacracy One's Finance role I didn't see a clear accountability for determining the budget. Who does it in H1?

Thanks all for your support. We are so very thrilled to be onboarding and are just beginning to understand how it will change how we operate. Azaleamountain.org is our school for reference.


5 Replies
Karin Petersen

A more succinct question is "Can circles make operational decisions? Can they have accountabilities in the same sense that roles do?"

Dennis Ross


The accountability to determine budget can reside wherever the Circle/role chooses based on Governance.  A Circle (finance for example) could have the accountability to "- determining budget and presenting to the GCC for consideration"

Approval process for budget could be managed via policy (IDM, Vote, etc.)

Hope this helps.


Dien Kwik

Hi, Karin:

A circle always have accountabilities, which are defined in the super circle's governance.

These accountabilities would normally be distributed to roles within that circle so that the roles can execute them.  Since a Circle is merely a grouping of roles, circles can't by itself execute anything. Anything that is to be executed has to be done by the role fillers of the roles in that circle.

Having said that, you can have roles work together to decide something, as long as it is clear what decision making method you are going to use. This is at least how we do it in our organization. 

In your example, I would perhaps define a policy on the "All functions and activities within the circle" or one of the appropriate domains the circle has that says something like "Budget Decisions shall be made by the following roles by voting: role x, y, z"

The method used can be whatever is more appropriate.  As Dennis indicated above, one option is to use IDM, in which all objections are integrated, instead of voting, just like in governance. With IDM, all concerns or objections are processed and  good enough solutions searched for together.  With voting, the concerns or the choice of the minority group does not get processed, and a "third" alternative is not searched for.


Andrea Faré

At the risk of repeating some of what's already been clearly said above(but sometime rephrasing can help). Holacracy doesn't have all possible necessary anti-bodies to avoid members from polluting the organization with consensus logic, it does have all the required tools to make that choice explicit though, and in some specific "problem domains" consensus might still be a good option.  One thing holacracy does is to encourage the organization to attach accountabilities to roles and perform work according to those accountabilities. A Circle is a role, but it also contains roles which can take responsibility to perform process steps on behalf of the circle, more so when you are breaking down a circle accountability. Now if the process steps required to approve a budget require specific vertical skills that need to be engaged in some sort of sequence you might be looking at a possibly helpful role-ashionship  right there: something you can encode in accountabilities/policies/domains   contained in that circle so  that the final result produces something like: 

Role y  approves the budget according to the best practices published by role x and integrating the objections of roles z,k after submitting it to external consultant Y for review... (just an example with no practical value)

Karin Petersen

Thanks everyone. This is very helpful. It's clarifying to know that its useful for a role in particular to hold the accountability and not just the circle. In our organization the circle holds a lot of accountabilities and I'm excited for those to get transferred to roles.