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

Objection cases which can be tested as valid when it's not, and vice versa

Hi, all:

I have several cases of objections, where I'm not very clear on which test questions will rule them out as valid or invalid:

1. Objections with resource allocation as arguments, such as not enough time, or not enough people.  Which test question will rule them out as invalid ? And how ?

2. Objections because the proposal will not have the intended effect or does not change anything. Take for example a proposal to add accountability to a role to "Approve request for X". This proposal will not have the intended effect because none of the other roles have any obligation to ask for approval.  When tested this objection may become invalid:

  • This condition does not move anything backwards (even though it doesn't move anything forward too), 
  • Because nothing changes, with the proposal dropped we still have the same condition
  • It is safe enough to try, although there will definitely be no change.

Because of these arguments, the proposal will become invalid, and the proposal will go through, even though it won't change anything. It seems like it should be a valid objection. Which of the condition above is wrong so that it will make the objection valid ? Is adding a useless accountability considered "moving us backwards" ?

3. Objection because the proposal is proposing something that is impossible, such as adding an accountability to "ensure sales target is met". Reaching sales target is a combination of different things including things that are beyond our control. Is this objection valid because it causes us to move backward, from a condition where we were not asking for the impossible to a condition where we are ?






5 Replies
Bernard Marie Chiquet

1. Objections with resource allocation as arguments, such as not enough time, or not enough people.  Which test question will rule them out as invalid ? And how ?

Hey, this is a tough one. You cannot test it with the usual test questions. This is for me the sign the Objector did not get what governance is about. The way I usually do in by giving some coaching here so that they have the opportunity to learn deeper what is governance and then I would simply get back to the Objector and ask again. I would do that either during the Objection Round or during Integration.



Concerning 1., the person don't understand what Governance is, so there is the need of a coaching. For example, an accountability says absolutely nothing about how much time you will spend on it, or how you will do it. If it is the role creation, and the person says he/she does not have time, well, we are in Governance, we are not talking about who is gonna to energize that role, it will be the Lead Link problem after in operations (or other if you delegate the accountability). So there is just a point of coaching needed, and if you don't arrive, the simplest is to integrate it.


2. As long as the proposal solve the tension of the Proposer, what's the point ? Would it moves us backwards ? We are strictly focus on the tension of the Proposer, and if the Proposer propose that, and that it solve his/her tension, it is perfect. We don't want something perfect, because we know we can change everything at every time. After I don't have the entire context, so I may be wrong. But if the Proposal is valid, that the Proposer does have a concret tension, concret example and that it does limit one of its role, and that you don't see any reasons why it would cause harm or move us backward, I don't see the problem.


3. First, I would say “ensuring”, and it is not really a durable action, but after it is my interpretation.

So it would be an explicit expectation from a role, that needs role x to meet sales targets ? After it is up to you if you consider that it would moves us backwards. But if the objection pass the test, I would just integrate it, and focusing on the tension, the concrete case to propose something that will continue to solve the tension of the Proposer and of the Objector.

Sorry if there is some mistakes,

Hope that help,

Have a nice day,

Karilen Mays

Dien, I wish you could come to one of our practitioner trainings. We cover a lot that you can't get from the constitution, including tricky objections which are often due to the fact that objections are a new distinction that we aren't used to.

For a resource allocation objection, you likely need to take a time out to explain the rules; even then if the person still wants to object, the facilitator has no authority to judge the objection or stop the objection.

Like Louis suggested, if coaching doesn't achieve the desired effect then you may end up integrating the objection, worse case scenario...

In fact re all of your questions, we practice in the practitioner training. Just failing to move the tension forward in some other way, or in any way is not actually an objection; there has to be an argument for harm. (My thought: who are we to know if the proposal won't do anything unless the proposer says this?)

If you just follow the process you could catch the majority of invalid objections, and even if you do not, usually the worst case is solving two tensions at once. 

For tricky integration situations, we cover those rules in our coach training...

Hope that helps!


Gerald Mitterer

Hey Dien,

just a quick additional comment on your first question:

1. Objections with resource allocation as arguments, such as not enough time, or not enough people.  Which test question will rule them out as invalid ? And how ?

I found it really helpful to add the following coaching: Why are resources not an issue in Governance? If we allowed resource objections (that could include scarcity of resources, lack of competence to energize that role etc.) we would immediately start to build the organization around people and not around the work that's needed to best express the organizational purpose. With Governance we are trying to figure out what would ideally be needed. If we don't have the people to fill these roles, well that's our reality and it probably creates another tension. At least we have more transparency on what is needed and have the opportunity to process it...


- Gerald

Stephen Michel

Hi Dien,

I believe you can rule out all three as "not valid Governance output" (criteria e in 3.2.4, below):

"(e) Processing or adopting the Proposal breaks the rules defined in this Constitution, or prompts the Circle or its members to act outside of the authority granted under this Constitution. For example, Next-Actions, Projects, and specific operational decisions are typically not valid Governance outputs per the terms of Section 3.1, so anyone involved could raise an Objection that a Proposal to enact these outputs would violate the rules of the Constitution."

I think this video, particularly the part at 54:05 (you might need more context. If so, context *ends* at 44:15, I didn't find where it starts) should help