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

Policy About Vacation

Our Circle recently adopted a policy that sets rules around how vacation can be used.  The Circle owns the domain of "Associate Relationships" (similar to how the People & Partnership circle at H1 has a domain of "Partner Relationships").  There was some discussion (outside of governance) that perhaps it was an invalid policy because it's not a "grant" or "limit" on a domain nor is it controlling the "functions" or "activities" of the Circle (because it applies to the entire company).  The advocate for the policy claims that vacation is part of the "Associate Relationships" domain and the policy is stating how that aspect of the domain can be used by anyone in the business.

 Does the community have any opinions on the topic?

4 Replies

Hi Geoff,


This article may help you: http://wiki.holacracy.org/index.php?title=Policy

A policy cannot “govern people outside of their roles (e.g., "Everybody must say hello in the morning")”.

If you want to govern people, you need some kind of agreement between the company and the people.

I am not that comfortable with that topic I must admit so that's all I can say and I am sure others will jump as well.


Kind regards,




Thanks, [@mention:449693036337664795].  I guess I'm a little confused by the fact that a policy can't govern people outside of their Roles.

This badge app has a policy that states, "A Partner will be granted the Badge..."  That sounds like it is governing people.  People earn badges--not Roles.  Am I misunderstanding it?


A policy cannot gover PEOPLE, but it can govern ROLES, right?

So, vacation policy probably under Associate Relationships Domain  looks like a valid thing to do.


[@mention:549059653907130620] Just thought I'd weigh in to say I appreciate the topic and the confusion.  We often blur (or blow past) this line in order to adopt common-sense policies that govern people in addition to roles.

As much as anything, I think it's in large part because the governance process is really good at helping us to make changeable, tension-based policies, whereas a partner relationship contract is a pain to amend as new issues come up.  If the appropriate role wants to change something about the vacation policy, update documentation regarding our building alarm codes, or define when the ping-pong table cannot be used due to customer meetings, it seems safe enough to do that through policy rather than find some kind of contractual alternative (even though it's typically partners and not roles who are playing ping-pong).