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

Project / Duty To Process

Hey Folks -


Okay I have another totally real er I mean hypothetical case I'd like some input on, regarding a Project that a... circle member accepted.many moons ago.  I think this... circle member ... accepted the Project in agreement that there was strong alignment with role purposes and accountabilities, and more so even a look at the team souls and thinking that there wasn't another individual on the team likely to understand the complexities and requirements.


BUT, this ... person ... has repeatedly bumped up against their own skill/experience limitations and the enormity of the Project in question and the ongoing under-resourcing of my er, the department at hand.  This Project has high importance but a comparatively low urgency in relation to everyday and normal-for-department project work.

SO.  When it comes to 4.1.2.b and related obligations and responsibilities of partners, how/when can a Project get re-assigned? Removed? Resources re-allocated?  If a partner accepts a Project, but simply cannot complete it given lack of resource (skill, experience, funding, time) - does it just become an albatross wearing someone down to report no update at every tactical meeting until the end of time?


Does 'duty to process' and accept a project trump other action?  I see 4.1.3.a giving some potential value in the last sentence - but don't think I've got a full picture.

"Processing does not mean executing upon captured Next-Actions and Projects, which is not covered by this prioritization rule."

8 Replies
Keith Jarvis

So sad, no response. 

C'mon people, help me out...


Dennis Ross

Hi Keith,


Ideally, the role-holder that accepted the project would recognize the need for additional resources and work with the appropriate role/roles (most likely the Lead Link) to get the additional resources needed to complete the project.


The role-holder should also be able to recognize the importance of the project and prioritize their work accordingly.  If there is disagreement between the project owner and the original role with the tension, then the tension-holder should start by making a pitch to the project owner to shift the priority of the project.  If this doesn't work, then the tension-holder should ask the Lead Link to evaluate the project and to determine if he/she should ask the project-holder re-prioritize their work to support the project.


Both of these issues could be handle by going role-to-role, or could be added to the agenda of a Tactical meeting.


I hope this helps.


- Dennis



Juliane Martina Röll

Additionally to what Dennis said: It is also possible to ask the Lead Link to reallocate the Role to more people (or someone else entirely), or to supply the Role with more resources so that it can do its work.

Ruben @ Springest

Side note: your question is pretty long, woul've gotten more response quicker probably if shorter and less prozaic


Some other ideas that come to mind on top of talking to the LL to check role fit or resources:

  • Request a better outcome (eg. smaller) for the project
  • Request an estimate on when it's will be done (answering that is also a duty)
  • Request why it cannot be done sooner (also a duty, i.e. what will you do in the meantime)
  • Request that LL clarifies current strategy, maybe that's unclear (with maybe I mean that almost always it is )
Rebecca Brover

Here are a few other ideas for the mix since the lack of movement on the project is clearly surfacing a tension for you.

  • Offer a trade - what you can you or another role take off the plate of the project holder to allow it to rise in priority for them.
  • Unless there is domain protection keeping you from it, lobby with the roles responsible for the allocation of resources for what the project needs.
  • If this is truly a huge project, there may be some ambiguity about next-actions within the project. Can you break it out into sub-projects that are more readily accepted by other roles that align with those pieces or as individual actions by partners with the specific expertise needed.

I hope that helps a little. I can certainly understand the effect on the psyche of having to report "no update" on a project that will repeatedly surface tension.

Ruben @ Springest

Have to disagree with Rebecca's suggestion of offering a trade. IMHO this is exactly what Holacracy tries to prevent: politics. There are a lot of routes to take and going "outside of the system" feels like the wrong one to me Main reason being it covers up tension btw.

Rebecca Brover

I can certainly see Ruben's point and agree politics should be avoided as they do not align with the system. What I refer to is a sincere offer to remove a barrier to completion. In both organizations where I have operated in Holacracy, we have processed the tension of feeling overwhelmed, needing more time in the day, or not being able to prioritize an important project because the specific expertise needed for completion was held by a busy partner with non-emotional offers to help. It's the same thing that would happen if someone is out sick and the lead link surfaces a tension about too much to cover since temporarily unfilled roles. They ask for help and others step in as partners to process the tension.


I hope that clarifies my perspective a little. 

Jeff Kreh

It seems to me that the accountability is not to do it, but to ensure that it gets done. This may be what Rebecca has in mind. If memory serves, there's even something in the Constitution about helping each other when such help does not interfere with one's already accepted priorities. This could lead to incorrect political behavior or undefined expectations, so tread gently...