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

Domains and Policies

I direct a small preschool. We have been 11 months using Holacracy and we are still working out lots of kinks but obviously moving policies over from their traditional to Holacracy is a big change, I am trying to figure out how to handle some domains and policies. My big question is can a policy within a domain be changed through governance or once it is a domain is it the full authority of the role.

Right now we put both a policy in the anchor circle and a domain in a role for the same thing and I'm not sure how to correct it. There are three documents that this is a challenge for.

1. Curriculum Guide, this is the easy one, it's a domain of the curriculum coordinator and probably doesn't need to be a policy of the anchor circle and could just be removed there. Also it's mostly a collection or resources and ideas so there isn't any "demanding of action". That's the easy one, is my thinking right there?

2. Parent Handbook, this is a collection of policies and information given to families. We currently have it as a policy of "All activities and functions" of the anchor circle as it sets school wide policy but also have it as the domain of the enrollment coordinator. I think we were hoping the enrollment coordinator role could make changes as she sees fit and changes could be made in governance. I'm not clear if that could happen or if it should revert to just being a policy of the anchor circle not a domain for the enrollment coordinator role.

3. Staff Handbook, is the same challenge it is a collection of policies in the holacracy term of like defining how domains can be used and information given to teachers. I know we want to be able to change it in governance but there are also sections that some other roles have traditionally made changes to. 

Just as I feel like we are getting organized I find more things that linger from the old structure. Thanks for your support.

17 Replies
Jeff Kreh
07/20/2017

[@mention:493184366878843164], we're in similar boats. As cofounder and president/@visionBearer of a private college for prison inmates, I've enjoyed the tension of aligning old or industry standard policies to a holacratic organization. I'm sure you already know this, but it's helped us to have all policies that haven't yet translated still in force. PM me if you'd like to help us explore how private education can better understand, benefit from, and help explain Holacracy.

awo
07/23/2017

Jenn sounds like you're coming up against the specific meaning of Policy in Holacracy, vs the way it's used in most organisations.

Yes, from what you say I think you want it to be the case that the Curriculum Guide document cannot be edited without permission from the Curriculum Co-ordinator - so you are using a domain here to set up this restriction on edit rights for this important document.  I think (from the info I have) that you are right, it doesn't sound like a Policy - sounds more like something to publish as a note.

When it comes to the Parent Handbook and Staff Handbook, is the same thing true? Are you hoping to restrict edit rights? Or are the things in these documents that you want to be binding all the time on everyone?

Jenn
07/24/2017

The parent and staff handbooks hold more policies, as holacracy defines it, like our hours of operation and holidays were the things that came up in recent governance conversation. Since the way it currently is the handbooks are policies of the anchor circle they were changed through governance which I think is good. I think they do needed restricted edit rights, only through governance would probably be preferred. These documents are binding to everyone. I'm still trying to get my head around it. Thanks for helping me delve into the core of it. 

 

awo
07/25/2017

It sounds to me, from what you're saying, that having them as policies is safe to try for now. Maybe over time this will change

(EG: perhaps there are many smaller holacracy policies, like Hours of Operation and Holidays - and the key information from these gets collated by a role into Handbooks which are issued to new parents and staff)

Chris Cowan
07/26/2017

Jenn, great questions! 

Policies related to hours of operation, or other expectations of the people which are typically captured in an employee handbook, aren't a great fit for the organization's governance because the organization doesn't own/control the people, it only owns/controls the roles. 

Of course, you need to capture certain expectations of the relationship between the people and the organization (working hours, compensation, travel policies, etc.), so those are best documented in a "relationship contract," of some sort. 

There's a lot to say about that, so if you're interested, watch this short video (25 mins) of Brian walking through some new thinking around how to handle people stuff like this (especially starting around 9:08 when he talks about "Relationship Contracts").  

Here is a link to the file

Additionally, I just published something called Understanding Policies, which might be interesting to you. 

Hope that helps!!

awo
07/26/2017

> Policies related to hours of operation....aren't a great fit for the organization's governance because the organization doesn't own/control the people, it only owns/controls the roles. 

Just to acknowledge that I know the theory here is that these things don't fit in governance etc - but actually what we find in our practice is: Governance is a pretty good tool for this kind of stuff. Makes it visible to everyone. Makes it editable through a robust process. We (or at least, in our organisation, *I*) know that this is wrong in theory - but pragmatically, in practice, it is useful, helpful and safe to try.

Jenn
07/26/2017

Thank you both for your ideas. I do like the idea of hours of operation being in governance especially as a preschool because it is a factor that is changeable if parents wanted us to open earlier or teachers wanted us to close earlier or vise versa. I think the tricky part for us is developing clear governance for all. I would be curious why hours of operation is "wrong in theory" I think a policy that says "Doors remain locked until 7:30am." or "Entry is permitted after 7:30am" is not governing people but property. It's just a lot to tease out of the old handbook style thinking. Thanks for the dialogue and I'm interested in others ideas too!

Jenn

PS. I will check out the contract video.

Jenn
07/26/2017
Chris Cowan posted:  

Here is a link to the file

 

[@mention:455886150941203371] I wasn't able to open the video. 

Chris Cowan
07/27/2017

Jenn, 

Whoops! Hopefully, I fixed the video link. It should work now. 

And yes, you're 100% right..."I think a policy that says "Doors remain locked until 7:30am." or "Entry is permitted after 7:30am" is not governing people but property." That is a great way of doing it. 

Remember, how policies are phrased is extremely important. The letter of the law is just as the spirit. So, even though saying "No one may start working before 7:30am" may seem very similar to, "Doors remain locked until 7:30am" one would be invalid and other valid, even if they have the same intent. 

By hours of operation, I was addressing how organizations typically try to regulate them, which is through things like "Everyone must arrive by their scheduled time" or something like that. 

Chris Cowan
07/27/2017

Hey Awo, just curious, can you share an example? Not looking to challenge you on what to capture in governance or anything, I just want to understand what you're saying and I'd love to have some more info! 

awo
07/27/2017

Happy to share Chris. Here's our policy called Holiday:

We encourage everyone to take the break from work that they need. We recognise that having that time is important for maintaining and increasing energy, creativity and perspective.

Everybody receives public holidays in England as paid holiday.

You can also take up to 30 days paid annual leave (for full-time roles) in the year from 1st September to August 31st. You can roll up to 5 days over that you haven't used from one year to the next. (This rollover limit is to encourage everyone to take their holiday allowance and not just work all year).

In order to use your Annual Leave you must:

- Record the holiday in TeamSeer and in the team calendar.
- Arrange to hand over work that may need attention to someone who agrees that they can cover the work. This includes cover for Holacracy system roles (Lead Link, Rep Link, Cross Link, Facilitator, Secretary) which should be recorded in a centralised place.
- Prepare a handover email and send to your team before you go on holiday.
- Set up an Out Of Office email auto response or commit to handling your emails as normal while on holiday.
- Set yourself as away on the phone answering service.

 

This belongs in a board sub-circle of which everyone is a member. IT impacts everyone, and thus it's important to us that everyone has the right to change if it causes them a tension.

awo
07/27/2017

And you know - what ROLES take holiday? None. PEOPLE take holiday.  However, there are some rules around taking holiday, and we want to make them both explicit and editable.

Chris Cowan
07/31/2017

Thanks Awo! That helps a lot. So everyone is a member of that sub-circle? Like, as a cross-link to themselves? 

awo
08/01/2017

Exactly. 

Vincent
08/02/2017
Chris Cowan posted:

Jenn, great questions! 

Policies related to hours of operation, or other expectations of the people which are typically captured in an employee handbook, aren't a great fit for the organization's governance because the organization doesn't own/control the people, it only owns/controls the roles. 

Of course, you need to capture certain expectations of the relationship between the people and the organization (working hours, compensation, travel policies, etc.), so those are best documented in a "relationship contract," of some sort. 

There's a lot to say about that, so if you're interested, watch this short video (25 mins) of Brian walking through some new thinking around how to handle people stuff like this (especially starting around 9:08 when he talks about "Relationship Contracts").  

Here is a link to the file

Additionally, I just published something called Understanding Policies, which might be interesting to you. 

Hope that helps!!

Hi [@mention:455886150941203371],

Thanks for sharing this ! I read your publication "Understanding Policies" and the related one you give links to within. In "Understanding Policies", I wonder how we could deal with an example you give. 

You write : "Similarly a policy like, “Any role that gets an email request from a customer must submit it to customer service,” would also be invalid on the grounds that I don’t have control over whether or not I get contacted by someone else."

I wonder how we could achieve this result "any role that gets an email request from a customer must submit it to customer service" if we think it's useful and solve a tension, using an appropriate way ? 

Have a good day

Jeff Kreh
08/02/2017

Perhaps "since @customer.Service holds the domain for responding to requests, no role may leave customer requests unforwarded to @customer.Service"

 

Or, better yet, a general company-wide policy might add the accountability to all roles of "forwarding received emails that are relevant to one or more other roles to the appropriate role steward(s) in a timely manner."

Chris Cowan
08/02/2017

I don't have time at the moment for a substantial response, but one way might be through a policy on any company email addresses.