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

How does creating new role make the work done?

When our circle accept a proposal on governance meeting, we created "Manual Tester" role. It's something that our developer thinks can help him to do some test before every release. It has to be done manually on top of unit tests that was written by developer.

However, after creating the role, everyone is still busy doing their own feature, and by the end of the week, a feature got released without manual testing. Lead link assigned the role to himself, but couldn't find time to do the task of testing.

So my question, after creating a new role, how to ensure that the role get energized so the original tension behind the proposal is addressed.

5 Replies
Tom Mulder

Simple answer: NOT. Defining a role only means that you make clear that work needs to be done. Not who is energizing it. This is up to LL and the relative priorities of the person filling the role. If there are insufficient resources or more important priorities then this might happen.

The good thing is that it now becomes clear that:

  • people do not prioritize the Accountabilities of this role (although everybody thinks it is important and therefore feel it as a tension);
  • You do not have enough resources to fill the roles
Angela Spaxman

Adding to Tom's response, could it also be that you do not have the right resources to fill this role? For some people, testing is just so boring that they would resist doing it, while for others it is a easy job quickly done. 


The whole of our boot up phase in Holacracy has been about creating roles and realising - hey - we don't actually have the resources we need to do all the (value-generating) stuff that needs doing!

Governance is about creating a shared map or model of the business. It says "this is all the work that's on the table" so that you can step back and decide which bits are most important.

Andrea Faré

As counterintuitive as it may seem there are no ways in holacracy to "get the work done", meaning there's basically no way to oblige anyone to start doing something (there are although ways to  restrict the way things are done) . All you can do is to make clear what is expected from role fillers and rely on the fact that the way they prioritize their work is the best fit to serve the organization purpose (when in doubts the can always rely on the LL for  prioritizazion of their work).

 In this specific instance it feels like everything else the Lead Link had to do (either in his LL role or any other role he might be filling) was currently perceived by him as something with higher priority with respect to that newly created accountability on the new role:

1) Had the role been assigned to someone else, that person might have prioritized differently --> Did anyone self candidate for that role before the LL self assigned? Did the Lead Link try to assign the role to someone else? 

2) If the Lead Link is spending a lot of time in his LL role and very little in other roles you might have a first sign of warning, as he is probably still doing a lot of stuff implicitly --> Lead Link might need some coaching (he might be controlling stuff he should not be controlling, creating some bottlenecks and overheads the removal of which could create space for fulfilling the new role we are talking about)

3) There is a chance your org is understaffed with respect to the desired tradeoff between quantity, quality and speed of the things it has to do to fulfil its purpose 



Fajar Firdaus

Thank you everyone for your reply, I agree that at least right now we have clarity on which role that we don't have the priority.