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

Interpretation of the Constitution: 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 Valid Proposals

For a Proposal to be valid (Article 3.2.2 and 3.2.3) the following applies:

·       It should resolve or reduce a Tension sensed by the Proposer;

·       It must help the Proposer to better express his/her roles;

·       The Proposer must be able to describe the Tension and to give an example of an actual past or present situation in which the Proposal would have reduced that Tension.


So as Partner I sense that we as an Company do not live up to our values as we do not enough to be a “Partner friendly employer”. I therefore propose an new Accountability for HR to send all employees a birthday wish on their birthday. This because I know that Partners are complaining that we do not do that.


So I have sensed a Tension that I can describe and also can give examples. But none of my roles cares as it will not help to express my roles better.


Is this a valid Proposal Yes or No? Reason for asking is to get clarity on when Proposals are not valid. So any other suggestions/examples to help me understand are welcome.

5 Replies
Koen Veltman

Hi Tom, not valid governance input IMO. 

Consider this (more extreme) example: I sense that my salary is not enough. And I propose a policy that states "when making a salary proposal it has to be above $3.5M". (Not saying this is valid...). Imagine doing integration and still solving the original tension... 

That's not supposed to come through governance from any person. And hence governance is intended to come from tensions from a role. The route to take it to give these tensions to the "HR" role  and have that role make a proposal on behalf of the organization.


Tom Mulder

[@mention:456449141667144364]. Given your example. You have sensed a tension and with this Proposal it would be solved. You can give examples that peers in other comparable organizations make $ 4M and that already two colleagues have left because of the salary levels in your organization. Then the reason to dismiss would be that it will not help you to better express your roles? 

But what if I state that having a market conform level will show to the market that we are a well respected and  firm organization that cares for his people. Then my roles are impacted and am I able to better express my roles.

In this way I have provided all the reasoning for a valid Proposal. That somebody may have an Objection from a financial point of view I understand. But still the Proposal will be valid. Agree?

So, any additional guidance or insights on when a Proposal is invalid would be appreciated.

Koen Veltman

[@mention:523162737680436711] - key here is to separate Not Valid Governance Input and Non Valid Governance Output. The initial example you gave was not valid input. because governance is only about things you sense from a role. although technically the output can be valid as a policy which I guess is your second post about...

the extravagant example just as an illustration why it is awkward to have these kind of proposals in governance and hence the reason for the non valid governance input clause in the constitution.

re - your statement: "But what if I state that having a market conform level will show to the market that we are a well respected and  firm organization that cares for his people. Then my roles are impacted and am I able to better express my roles." - if you have an HR role that is about attracting new people I can link it to your role. But I would find it hard to make this statement for a "website developer" role. Then you can just trust Holacracy that there are other roles in the organization that care about this from an organizational perspective.



Gerald Mitterer

Hi Tom,

This is very good and common question. In my understanding you are referring to the fact, that somehow "relevant" tensions not grounded in a role but more general in a partners observation (across various roles) are not valid gov input. Actually, the role-based validity criteria came with constitution v3 as far as I recall. 

To my understanding this is still a not well-specified space related to the coupling of partners and the organization. What your proposal is referring to are expectations towards partners (no matter in which role they are acting). IMO the organization itself does not have values, the group of partners might have. Thus it might trigger the need to make explicit what partners can expect of each other apart from role-based accountabilities (such as values and behaviour codes etc.). 

I see several pathways for that. Here's a few: you might create a role that has the accountability to sense into these tensions and process them if needed (eg kind of an elected rep link from the "partner pool" or an HR role). Or you could define a partnership circle (see encode's approach with an association circle here) that specifically holds the purpose of making all the people-related expectations and agreements explicit. Or you could use your partner agreements / contracts to specify what you expect in more detail.

IMO this entire issue is also the trigger for partner pool & partnership circle amendments considered for constitution v5. (see here).

Does that tackle your question?

- Gerald

Tom Mulder

@Gerard. Thanks for your reply and thanks for showing the pathways. Also thanks for showing that this is something that is buzzing around in the Community and might be adopted into the Constitution.

The given examples help me better understand Non valid Proposals and by that Valid Proposals.