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

Optional accountability

This morning in our governance, there is a proposal to add an optional accountability. The reason was that such action may or may not be needed depend on the situation that the role filler should judge by them selves.

Is it okay to have this? The original proposal doesn't have this optional wording but it received an objection and then settled by using the word. I can't find anything that says otherwise in constitution, but maybe anyone has encounter such issue before? 

The proposer and objector was filling the same role. 

6 Replies
Tom Mulder

Hi Fajar, in a certain way all Accountabilities are optional as the Role filler himself defines how to energize his/her Roles and Accountabilities.

Governance is there to create clarity so if this Role is the one to take the ongoing action then this can be added as an Accountability for this Role. This makes clear to everybody who is accountable for it.

F.E. a Role can have the Accountability: Sending end of Year thank you cards to all customers. This Accountability will only be energized during a small period of the year.

In your example I wonder what the Objection was. If somebody has an Accountability by default he or she decides how and when to energize this Accountability. So it is not about the action but about making clear who has the accountability if this is needed.

Hope this helps.

Cheers, Tom

Chris Cowan

In addition to what Tom said above, you could also define the optional nature explicitly. For example, "Doing X...if needed." 

Or, if the issue is that the objector doesn't want the role-filler to misinterpret the accountability as something to be done all the time, then you could use, "Doing X...upon request" or "Doing X...[when this certain condition occurs]." 

Xavier Boëmare

My thoughts on this:

Accountabilities are what I can expect from a role : If this is optional, then do I really expect anything ? It could still be done if it serves the purpose of the role, but then it would be up to the role filler. That's the definition of optional for me in that case.

Chris, what do you think of this reasoning ?


Chris Cowan

[@mention:491495232183315418]: yeah that's a good point. If by "optional" they mean, "Hey, consider doing this because I think it could help your purpose, but I don't really expect you to do it," then it might be an invalid proposal (though these are very rare). 

In this case, since the proposer thinks the accountability "may be needed," it's probably based on a tension of at least, "Hey, someone should be paying attention to this," which is really all an accountability is; an allocation of conscious attention. 

Karilen Mays

If you have an accountability that says... "Optionally responding to community of practice posts" then I agree it is both redundant and doesn't do anything except confuse the issue since one always reviews accountabilities, acts if appropriate, and then prioritizes those potential actions.

If it is optional, then it is occasional and therefore simply an accountability. I think it important to keep the focus on each individuals interpretation of the constitution and governance, not something like "it makes sense if it serves the purpose of the role" because in a way that sounds like a new rule... hope that helps. Good conversation Fajar and Xavier!

Xavier Boëmare

Thank you all for your inputs !