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

Purpose of the circle member (role-filler)

I realize in coaching of structures that the participants have difficulty integrating the duties and responsibilities of member and role. I wanted to give a clear sentence on these accountabilities.

 I have extracted (here below) what the constitution says about it. In particular 1.2 RESPONSIBILITIES OF ROLE-FILLING and 4.1 DUTIES OF CIRCLE MEMBERS.
 I found that neither the purpose of the circle member nor that of the role-filling are written. This is why I wonder what is the purpose of a circle member who fulfills a role.

 I propose two purpose on top of the accountabilities rights below, I request your feedback :


Purpose of a member who fullfillsa role :

1_  "Enact at your best your role’s purpose and each of your Role’s Accountabilities in order to realize the purpose of the organization.

 2 " Enact at your best your role’s purpose and each of your Role’s Accountabilities taking into account the needs of other in the group and the needs of other roles”


Accountabilities of a member who fullfillsa role :

 Prioritization: You regularly review how to implement the purpose and Accountabilities of your Role, by defining the "Next Actions" and "Projects" useful.

 You look at the relevant Next Actions and then run the one that you think is most valuable to the Organization. You have the authority for this choice related to your Role. You can not control another role.

Tensions: You identify the gaps between your ideal and the current way of expressing the purpose and the Accountability of your Role and then you try to resolve these Tensions using your authority and meetings.


  • (a) process requests from other Members. (Process means registering the Next-Action, not executing it.)
  • (b) participate in a specific tactical or governance meeting if a member requests it
  • (c) Align yourself with Circle Priorities and Strategies

Tracking : You keep up to date a follow-up of all the Projects and Next Actions in your Role Transparency:

(a) Projects and Next Actions: share any Project and / or Next-Action you follow

(b) Relative Priority: express your judgment regarding the relative priority of your Projects or Next Actions

(c) Projections: provide a date when you expect to complete any Project or Next Action. It's not a commitment that binds you.

(d) Fill in the Checklists and Indicators that relate to your roles

5 Replies
Folkert Ringnalda

Responsibilities and duties are like Rights and Obligations.
Article 1.2 clarifies what a role is entitled to do (i.e. processing and tracking tensions, purpose, accountabilities and projects).
When you’re on your own, you don’t have any obligations towards others (because there is no ‘others’). In most organizations this is not the case. A role has been granted to you by another role (or circle). So there are ‘others’ (roles, members, partners). Even within a decentralized context of a for-the-purpose organization there must be some kind of coordinating mechanism. This is where obligations come into play (duties in article 4.1: transparency, processing, prioritization).

It seems to me superfluous to have a purpose ‘enact [..] in order to realize the purpose of the organization’ (because that purpose was the reason that your role was established).
The same goes for ’taking into account the needs of other [..]’. The constitution is all about ’taking into account of others’; not for the sake of others, but for the purpose and based on clear and specific ruleset. 'Taking into account' can have a lot of different meanings, leading to more confusion (instead of solving it).

..on the other hand; If your proposal will reduce the tension behind it (puzzlement around responsibilities and duties of roles and members), go for it.

Keith Jarvis

What we did was essentially describe all in one place those duties and responsibilities and incorporate that and a couple other requirements (basic study of Holacracy, commitment to ongoing study of Holacracy, commitment to a few practices regarding absence coordination and team communication) all into a Partner Agreement, which we require PRIOR to that individual being 'Eligible' to be a Partner. Only individuals who are eligible can be appointed as circle members or to individual Roles.

Olivier Compagne

[@mention:532592670943008396] I like what you're trying to do. I didn't review it in depth (just skimmed through it), but I wanted to offer a thought: I think it can be very valuable, but in your effort make sure to not mix the Holacracy constitutional requirements and other things you'd like to expect that aren't constitutional (e.g. commitment to ongoing study of Holacracy, commitment to a few practices regarding absence coordination and team communication, etc.)

Adam Banko

[@mention:449411339497350002] I wonder what's the harm coming from mixing expectations from the constitution and other sources?

The harm I imagine from keeping them separate is a steeper learning curve for people joining the company.

Olivier Compagne

[@mention:456308404254624012] Simply so that people know where these expectations come from, can assess their legitimacy and appropriateness, and choose to process any tensions they may have about them. Basically because of what article 4.1.5 of the constitution says: "Implicit Expectations Hold No Weight"