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

Policy overruling Consitution?

Hi CoP!

We have a case in our organisation that we have a policy that seems to contradict the constitution and I'm wondering if that's even possible? Can policies overrule the constitution?

According to article 2.5.1, only Core Circle Members can be elected as Facilitator:

2.5.1 Elections & Eligibility

The Facilitator of each Circle will facilitate regular elections to elect a Core Circle Member of the Circle into each of its Elected Roles, using the process and rules defined in Article III.

All Core Circle Members are eligible for election and each may hold multiple Elected Roles, except for the Lead Link of a Circle, who may not be elected as its Facilitator or Rep Link.

Our policy says: 

In all circles, all members of the company may be elected as Facilitator, even if at the time of election they are not currently a Core Circle Member. If a person is elected who is not currently filling the Role of Qualified Facilitator, this person is obliged to complete the Facilitator training as organized by People & Workspace within 10 weeks after the election. Until the Facilitator training is completed, People & Workspace is permitted to send a Qualified Facilitator to all Tactical and Governance Meetings of the Circle to support the Facilitation of the elected Facilitator.

If the Facilitation Training is not completed after 10 weeks, the election is void. Until the re-election has taken place People & Workspace is permitted to send a Qualified Facilitator to all Tactical and Governance Meetings of the Circle who will act as temporary Facilitator of the Circle.

Is this valid? And if not, would it be valid if we had a policy stating that all role fillers of the Qualified Facilitator role automatically become Core Circle Members of all circles or something?




4 Replies
Cobus Bothma

Hi Lisi, I have read the latest Holacracy-Constitution-v4.1 again just to be sure. I don't believe there to be any contradiction and I think your policy is fine. In our business, I energise the Lead Link role in one circle, and I energise the Facilitator role in another, the same with many people in our business. We did this because we initially did not have enough qualified Facilitators. We have no policies for this either and have had no issues.  

As soon as someone who is not a circle member gets elected to energise the Facilitator role, they become a core circle member. Please see ARTICLE V - Adoption Matters of the constitution. 

Btw, for the policy to apply to all circles it will need to be established at the General Company Circle. 



Paul Walker

Yo, Lisi!

That Policy of yours is totally fine. At Zappos, we have a nearly identical Policy:

"All Certified Facilitators are eligible for election for Facilitator for all circles (unless they are the lead link of that circle) even if they are not a role holder in that circle."

Someone has to go through a lot of training to become a "Certified" Facilitator, so it's similar to all the training your Policy requires (but for us, someone must be certified before they can be elected).

There is a lot of grey area in what can and can't be changed Constitutionally with Policies. For the most part, things you can't change explicitly state so. Most other things are ripe for the changing! Below are some examples of things you can't change with Policies, because the Constitution explicitly forbids it:

"2.2.3 Amending the Lead Link Role
A Circle may not add Accountabilities or other functions to its own Lead Link Role, or modify the Role’s Purpose, or remove the Role entirely."

"2.5.3 Amending Elected Roles
... Further, no Circle may amend or remove any Purpose, Domain, Accountabilities, or authorities granted to an Elected Role by this Constitution, nor remove an Elected Role entirely."

"3.2.1 Making Proposals
... A Circle may adopt Policies to further constrain when or how Proposals may be made or processed outside of a Governance Meeting. However, no Policy may limit the right to stop asynchronous processing by escalating to a Governance Meeting."

Hopefully this helps, Lisi!


Thanks for the feedback!!

Xavier Boëmare


Old topic, but didn't want to add a new one with exact same name.

I'm confused. I'm actually reasoning in the opposite way of Paul : I would only override the constitution when it's allowed by the constitution itself (so it's not really overruling then :-)) : so basically when it's written "unless alternate terms are defined in the Policy" or equivalent. I would not touch anything else.

So is it right to say that no policy can override the constitution unless specified in the constitution itself ? Or is it more subtle ? And if so, what are the exact rules ?

About Lisi initial issue, I might have done differently : As the LL or RL can invite a partner outside of the circle to attend the governance meeting, that this partner, for the time being, becomes core member (art 3.3.1), the partner becomes then eligible for the election.