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

Dealing with resistance to Holacracy

Hi .. we have been committed to Holacracy for 6 months now but are struggling with one thing. Our Managers under the old hierarchal way of running things are getting frustrated that tensions raised, and the proposed actions to solve the tensions, are being dismissed by circle members and, as a result, the circle isn't moving forward. So how do you deal with situations where the circle members aren't particularly visionary or dynamic in solving tensions and want to keep the status quo ? Thank you.

6 Replies
Jean-Michel Gode
01/28/2017

Hi Gary,
Just a question. From wich role do "managers" rise this tension of frustration?
Regards.

Gary White
01/28/2017

An example would be the Lead Link of the "Product Owners" circle (we are a multi-product software company). The Lead Link is frustrated he can get the Product Owners to agree to a standardised product management methodology - the PO's want just just do their own thing.

Olivier Compagne
01/29/2017

[@mention:491354494783059362] it would be useful to look into the specifics of the situation to be able to make concrete recommendations.

But from what you're describing, it seems to me that the mechanisms of Holacracy (specifically the governance process) should be enough, if used correctly, to address these issues.

The Lead Link of the Product Owners circle could very well propose a change in the governance of this circle to standardize around a specific methodology, and the product owners would be bound by this methodology if the proposal was accepted. Of course they may raise "Objections" to the proposal, which would be an opportunity to integrate them in the "Integration" phase of the process; this is where the magic happens.

We might, for example, discover that parts of the reason the product owners don't like the new methodology are just a personal preference for the status-quo (which would likely not be valid Objections, and would therefore be dismissed), while parts of it are actually good reasons to take into account for the sake of the organization (which would be valid Objections, and would need to be integrated before the proposal is adopted). 

Of course it's easier said than done. If the participants are new to Holacracy, it will take an experienced Facilitator or coach to facilitate getting to that output. 

Gary White
01/30/2017

Thank you - makes sense.

Koen Veltman
01/30/2017

Hi Gary, 

what about this lead link taking up a product owner role himself? Irrespective of Holacracy role modeling the desired change could create some momentum. Just doing it instead of telling it. 

I know a traditional (non holacratic) senior director that does this. He still enjoys taking up projects to just experience it himself and show what's possible. 

Juliane Martina Röll
01/31/2017
Gary White posted:

An example would be the Lead Link of the "Product Owners" circle (we are a multi-product software company). The Lead Link is frustrated he can get the Product Owners to agree to a standardised product management methodology - the PO's want just just do their own thing.

I'd be curious what the Tension is: seems that the Lead Link is actually operating from another, possibly un- oder under-specified Role around Standardisation or Quality Assurance or so.

If it becomes clear where the Tension is coming from, processing / integration is easier - and then it happens between "equal" roles on the circle, not between "Manager"/LeadLink and Product Owners.