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

Meeting Timeboxes

Hello all,


Regarding both the tactical meetings and the governance meetings for a organization brand new to holacracy

  • What would you all recommend for duration of each?
  • What would you recommend for the frequency of each?
  • As per 4.2.3e in the constitution after we create a list of agenda items that we should time restrain  during triage in best efforts to get to all agenda items.  Is this how the governance tensions should be handled as well? Once objections go on the table they can suck up quite a bit of time.
8 Replies
Mieke Byerley

Hi @Max588,


Well this is rather coincidental (or maybe not) a discussion recently was raised around the same sort of questions as you pose, in the LinkedIn group. Here is the link



Hopefully this sting will provide some clarity.


The answer to your third question is "No", Governance process works according to Section 3.3 Governance Meetings, with agenda items being process via the IDM (Intergrative Decision Making) process. The Tactical Meeting works in accordance to Section 4.2 where the Facilitator simply processes agenda items by allowing the agenda item owner to engage others in their roles and duties as desired, until a path for resolving the tension is identified.


Both Meeting formats are time bound but in the Tactical Meeting all Agenda items must be processes, whereas in the Governance Meeting not all Agenda Items may be processed. I explain this in my LinkedIn response if you would like more information.

Mieke Byerley

Hi @MAx588,


I have done some looking around, and found the following information that may be of benefit, remembering there are no hard and fast rules but it is a starting point. 


Many experts seem to agree and accept that the optimum length of a meeting is 45 minutes. 

  • We humans seem to focus best in 45-minute increments (bit like Classroom sessions).
  • The highest concentration focus in humans lasts 20-minutes; hence you often see the use of a coffee/oblation break used in the middle of the meeting (to stretch legs and refresh etc) giving you 2 x 20 minute blocks in any 45 minute scheduled meeting.
  • If the meeting must last longer, split it into 45-minute periods separated by substantial breaks. 
  • Oddly enough, it also represents about one-half a human REM sleep cycle, which may explain a few things


There also seems a consensus that the best day and time for meetings is considered to be Tuesday Afternoons. 

  • Not only has everyone had time to recover from the weekend, few people have started the downhill productivity slide toward Friday.
  • The later hour encourages attendees to handle their business efficiently so they can go home on time. 
  • Late afternoons may also work better for customers, since they have fewer conflicts.

Just a note: Remember, people with young children may have to leave earlier than most.


Frequency is a more illusive one to pin down but I think, let yourself be guided by the Purpose of the Meeting and the nature of your business. Operational aspects will require more frequent course alterations/corrections etc, in response to the daily needs, outputs, and delivery so making these maybe a weekly occurrence initially, is a good starting point. Interestingly many Trades start their day with a team site meeting, which might be a good indicator too. Governance is a different beast altogether and as a new Holacracy company, will require a much more frequent schedule as opposed to a more veteran company. This one will depend largely on what the load and time frame of alignment to adoption of Holacracy will be initially, then should taper of into a more rhythmic natural cycle for your company.

Massimo Giliberti

Thanks for the insight Mieke! Super helpful!


We currently do a quick 15 standup meeting (scrum inspired) daily to give project updates and possibly process a couple tensions which seems to work out.  I would love to make it more structured so the facilitator role wouldn't be so highly leveraged to help alleviate the generic "i did work yesterday" replies.


As for the meetings we are super new to all this (only 2 tactical and 1 governance under our belt so far) and we have tons to process but i think we are on a very good progress curve.  We will surely do as you recommended and play it by ear and keep the 45 min tricks in mind you mentioned.


Thanks again!


We use Holacracy in a production kitchen setting. Every morning, all the cooks meet for 15 minutes around a whiteboard that has all of the tasks for the day. The Expo role acts as the facilitator and does a quick tactical meeting. We do check-ins, tensions/announcements, and then go over tasks for the day. It's highly structured and quick. 

Massimo Giliberti
Originally Posted by Adrienne:

We use Holacracy in a production kitchen setting. Every morning, all the cooks meet for 15 minutes around a whiteboard that has all of the tasks for the day. The Expo role acts as the facilitator and does a quick tactical meeting. We do check-ins, tensions/announcements, and then go over tasks for the day. It's highly structured and quick. 

I'm curious, how you determine the tasks of the day?  Does each role determine what those tasks (next action) will be?


We are on a pretty strict production schedule. We have a new menu each week that goes up on Thursdays and has to be finished by Wednesday mid-day. We have a multi-filled role that deals with planning when each item gets made during the week. At the end of the day each day, the Expo that was on duty re-does the task list with 2 things. 1. Things that didn't get completed that day and 2. the other stuff that was planned for the next day by the planners. It's probably not fully kosher as far as Holacracy goes, but it works for us. Although, everyone in the kitchen is showing up in the Cook role unless they're the Expo. Then they're showing up in Expo/Cook. 1 Expo per shift. 

Al Venus

I am a facilitator for our circle of IT infrastructure people. I let anyone add an item to triage at any time, the clock is a moving target. If someone has 10 items and only 15 minutes left, I'll ask them to pick the most important item and make it brief. If they start to ramble I ask, "What do you need" or "What action do you require". I'll then move to another person in the group to process their item. Everyone gets a turn, all items may not be covered in the allotted time but the important issues are addressed. As we have progressed in our practice, people come prepared with short concise items that can be addresses quickly.


This is the approach I take when facilitating our meetings:

1. Frame the checklist, metrics, and projects sections to remind peeps the goal is to expose information and if they have questions to jot them down so that we can add them to the agenda. 

2. Remind peeps of the goal to be quick and concise if they begin to ramble

3. After building agenda I look at remaining time and divide by the total issues then share with everyone that we have n minutes per issue if we wish to go through them all. 

4. We then time-box issues using our countdown timer (clearly visible). The helps force people into fast-brain and incremental progress mode


This generally works pretty well. On average, we process an issue every 2 minutes.