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

Peer review

Hi, I work for a traditional top down organization and am very intrigued with the notion of holacracy. I am not a manager so I don't have say in my organization, and when I tried to propose a change recently, my manager and his boss both dismissed my proposal as trying to "get my way." What I would like to know is whether my interpretation of the book Holacracy is accurate for the situation I am experiencing at work.

In the organization that I work for, the writer does, and I think should, have final say in deciding which, if any, of the peer reviewer's changes get implemented. But at the same time, there is one person who I have peer reviewed many times in the past where none of the important changes that I have suggested have been made--we just think so differently that her decisions and my recommendations for improvement don't mix well. I feel that by doing the peer review, I am wasting precious company time by doing something that in my judgment doesn't accomplish what I have been asked to accomplish, and I am asking for the right to say no to the assignment. Am I correct in assuming that holacracy would grant me the right to say no to the task?

My boss's argument is that he wants the flexibility to assign the peer review to whoever has time and he doesn't want the restriction based on who works well with who. But if, in my judgment, we don't think enough alike for my peer review to accomplish what peer review is supposed to accomplish, then I don't see how my spending time on something that isn't going to accomplish anything helps solve the flexibility problem. In fact, I see a lot of potential for my proposal (for the peer reviewer to have the right to say no) to add a lot of value to the company because then it will expose any problems with people who never get peer reviewed because peer reviewing their work is a waste of time for too many people. It might even make such people change how they respond to peer review.

Thank you for any answer you might have time to give.

2 Replies
Matt Davis

I can say that if you were using Holacracy, you'd likely have clear roles for Peer Reviewer and Writer and Editor and you'd have a clearly defined purpose and set of accountabilities to help guide the circumstance.  

If a Writer had an accountability of "Considering and incorporating feedback from Peer Reviewer" then it would eliminate some of the back and forth in deciding what is right for the situation. Perhaps Editor has final say. Or maybe the Writer has no accountability to incorporate, only to consider. Some of this dynamic is already at play in the situation you described, it is just much more informal and likely to change depending on mood and perceived authority. 

Basically what you're describing is what we call a tension. A tension can be taken to governance and tactical meetings to be resolved.  If the roles and accountabilities as they stand are giving rise to tensions, then they can be changed until you find the right solution.

In my opinion that's the smartest thing about Holacracy. The process allows a team to "home in" on the correct answer simply by processing tensions through a clearly defined process. 

Hope this helps! 


Thanks! What you say makes sense, it's just a bit hard to picture because I have never experienced it . I would love to, though. It sounds liberating and empowering.


I am already trying to plant some holacracy seeds with my boss, as I wrote up a proposal that includes the integrative decision making process. I think it is the most likely part of holacracy to pique his interest because he hates it when people, myself included, tend to bring up side issues when we are trying to solve a problem. He is a big advocate for solving one problem at a time and I think the integrative decision making process would help with that.