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

Cross Link from external entity to act as Cross Link to the entity as well

Hi, all:

In one of our circles, we have a cross link from an external company, which is not running Holacracy.  This cross link acts as a "Rep Link" from the external entity.

Now, we can not put another person as Cross Link to the external entity as they are not running Holacracy and are foreign to the concept of double linking. 

In this case, do we just create the cross link to the external entity anyway, and then just assign the cross link from the external entity to fill the cross link to the external entity role ?

Or can we add accountabilities on the one cross link role (cross link from the external entity) to also resolve tensions for our circle in the external entity ?

Thanks in advance,




6 Replies

Hi Dien,


You don't need to create both cross links. One cross link from the external entity is sufficient.

So you can create the role within your circle called “Cross Link from entity” and then add accountabilities on it as tension arises. This Cross Link will represent the whole external entity.

However, they cannot process tensions from your circle to their organization, it is only a one way - for that, you would need to do it differently as they don't practice Holacracy, you can't create another cross link.

Bernard Marie Chiquet

To add on Margaux's answer, I would add that you may create a policy per governance for inviting such Cross Link and specifying in this policy that such Cross Link should agree to enact any Accountabilities placed on the Cross Link Role as if such Accountabilities were directly on such Linked Entity.

Dien Kwik

Thanks, Margaux, Bernard:

Bernard, if I create a policy that says that the cross link will enact any accountabilities as if it were from the source, can the cross link then take actions on behalf of our circle in the source (external entity) ?

An extreme example may be a cross link from an external supplier A invited to our circle B, and after creating the above policy, we then add an accountability to, say, negotiate the best pricing from suppliers. Will this cross link then be expected to now negotiate with its own company A for the best price if it's needed to fulfill his accountability?

That one was an extreme example. In reality, what we wanted to achieve was for the cross link to also help us remove barriers in the source (external) entity, in addition to resolving their tensions in our organization. For example to help speed up lead time, to resolve conflicts, to build the same understanding of what we want to achieve at the source entity, etc.

Can I add these types of accountabilities and expect them from a cross link ?













Bernard Marie Chiquet


Let me illustrate this with a specific example - We're experiencing that Cross Link between HolacracyOne and iGi (even if iGi is powered by Holacracy since 2010, I think the same reasoning applies for a Linked Entity that would not be using Holacracy).

In H1 GCC, there is a Policy that invites Cross Links from Licensees - see  https://glassfrog.holacracy.org/policies/1389 - Note that such policy allows for adding accountabilities per governance on the Cross Link Role (this has already happened several times, see our Cross Link Role https://glassfrog.holacracy.org/roles/22016)

Note also that the policy specifies "This Cross Link shall be established upon request of the Licensee and acceptance of these additional terms" which means this Cross Link with such "add an accountability" function, has to be accepted on the first place by the Source Entity being invited to link.

Now, the Linked Entity is still a sovereign entity - the Cross Link Role may object during governance to any proposal adding an accountability that would causes harm to the Linked Entity. 

Hope this helps.

Dien Kwik

Hi, Bernard:

Thanks a lot for the example.

So, we can add any accountabilities to the Cross Link role, just like with any other role, including, say, to represent our circle in the linked entity and resolve our problems there, as long as the role filler for the Cross Link role does not see any harm in doing so, and even then, we'll go to integration and find the best solution there. Cool !

I've seen in github the suggestion to just have rep links as opposed to having different kinds of links. Can you add accountabilities to Rep Links, like you can with Cross Links ?




Bernard Marie Chiquet

Hi Dien,

Yes you may add any accountability on Rep Link per governance. The only Core Role I know, you can't add anything is the Lead Link Role.

Have a good weekend.

Bernard Marie CHIQUET