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

(Formerly) Higher Management blocks daily business of a new formed circle

Hi there,
A few weeks ago, during a general governance meeting there was a tension to cluster some roles in a new circle. All members accepted the suggestion and saw the benefit. First new changes were made and highly appreciated by many teams.
Now some ("formerly") higher management colleque is totaly against this new circle and starts discussion. Also "demands" that the new formed circle stops working toward new topics.

Did you guys have any best practices how to handle old structural tensions towards general discussons outging from higher management colleques?

4 Replies
Tom Mulder

Just ask what his tension is to this new Circle and from which role he/she is objecting. Most of the time this will show that he/she is not objecting from a role but based on personal feelings as a former manager.

Hope this helps.


That's a great way of validating a tension. I keep you informed!

Joni Overbosch


I would suggest that you try to find out what the tension is, in a open being-curious kind of way. Maybe the former management colleague has a valid tension but has difficulty to process it the new way and falls back in old behaviour. Maybe it's a personal tension but he/she needs help to recognise this and let go. And you could also ask if it is safe enough to try and give it a shot and not kill the idea right away. That's the great thing of this agile model, you can adjust all the time.

As a former higher manager myself I may sometimes show old behaviour and it helps if the questions are open and help me find out what the tension really is about. It's not always easy to let go of control and his/her intention may not be to harm the process but a genuine feeling that the action is not good for the organisation. 

Olivier Compagne

[@mention:566795443642518737] I agree with [@mention:494451095081222324] on the general approach. Often times I see novice Holacracy enthusiasts carrying an "anti-hierarchy" banner and getting upset at previous power holders for not playing the Holacracy game correctly. Unfortunately, it's likely counter productive, and frankly, unfair. I'm not saying it's what you are doing, I just thought I'd mention the point. 

My approach would be to remind that person that the decision was made in a governance meeting, and they can't just demand that the circle stops work. I.e. they have to follow the rules of Holacracy like others. But I would quickly offer them to discuss how they could use Holacracy to meet their need. For example, they could request a governance meeting ASAP to propose removing that circle; why not?  And then use the governance process to sort that out.