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

Multiple Circles - Same Work

Hello, friends!

I’m working on some stuff to help our call center figure out how to better respect Circle boundaries (e.g, not unnecessarily micromanaging Sub-Circles) while still getting all the work done properly across the call center. It’s an especially tough issue because our call center consists of ~400 people and dozens of separate Circles that all need to be doing roughly the same thing (we've tried having very few Circles with a loooot of people in each Role, and that went worse).

The ideal answer on paper is easy - Create an Accountability on the Circle and hold the LL to that Accountability and they will do the same down the chain. Unfortunately, that message is being met with, "Our situation is unique, so that won't work."

Thus, I ask - Do any of you work at an organization (or have experience rolling Holacracy out to such an organization) where you have some department that consists of several different Circles all doing virtually the exact same work and it is going very well? If so, how do you handle making sure expectations are roughly the same and followed across all the Circles?

Thank you!

6 Replies
Mary Pruce

Our business only has one call center circle for roughly 40 people.  Many are in multi-filled roles using representation. Constitution 2.3.2. They are able to process tensions that way because if there is something their representation doesn't share we try to accommodate the person and their shift to process on their own.  Most of the time that isn't the case and the rep can carry the tension well.  The downside is they aren't as exposed to the meeting process and education about Holacracy as others and so tensions are much more simple and indicative of new practice.  And also, to be honest, they're only going to learn and use the system aso it is useful and productive for them.  

One thing I'm playing with is to create a regularly scheduled circle mini meeting to gather tensions and process issues per shift per role since we're a shift based call center.

Hope this helps

Bernard Marie Chiquet

Hey Paul & Mary, I have quite the same experience as Mary's, with a client having also a 40 people call center, with the same representation mechanism.

Some years ago, we've had the case of 6 circles (having also sub-circles) doing the same work (during an implementation of a 450 people pilot in a 13 000 people company) and there was left to self-organizing - It did quite well but the experience lasted only 7 to 9 months before the parent corporation decided to stop Holacracy.

I would be happy to brainstorm with you, I am thinking of creating a sample circle that would serve as a model of all circles via a policy to be drafted. May be you've already tried that one!

With all my heart...

Brian Robertson
Hi Paul - I’m happy to help you think through possible strategies for this; I’d just need to ask some questions first to better understand the context. Drop me an e-mail if you’d like to schedule a chat.

- Brian

> On Sep 13, 2016, at 3:33 AM, HolacracyOne <alerts@hoop.la <mailto:alerts@hoop.la>> wrote:
Paul Walker

Thanks for the input, everyone! I am mostly looking for specific examples of this at other companies so I have some more concrete references, but other perspectives can always help. I might reach out to some of you at some point as I work on this further.

Thank you!

Koen Veltman

Hi Paul,

great question!

my suggestion (of what I have seen work in Holacratic and non-Holacratic organizations) is to create pull instead of a push.

in a simplistic view on the world:
- with "push" you "force" a standard on the organization. every circle in the organization should have these roles. that hardly works out. 
- with "pull" you allow differentiation and at the same time create accountability/ a process to surface best practices. whether there is a role that goes around circles to gather best practices or each subcircle has a representative in a best-practices circle could both work. you could even put out a "price/reward" for the circle or person that comes with the best shared best practice. 

in short: with pull you create meaningful alignment. you allow circles to differentiate AND create a process that gives them incentives to align around things that have proven to work.

Paul Walker

Thanks, Koen! Exactly what we're been thinking, but worded in a smarter way. Much appreciated!