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

Responsibilities of Role Filling

I am familiar with Getting Things Done by David Allen and I see clearly how he impacted Holacracy specifically in terms of 1.2 Responsibilities of Role Filling. I'm curious if you would recommend that organizations provide some support around these practices for partners. As we move our organization toward implementing Holacracy, one of the barriers I see is partners wanting to fulfill their responsibilities but nearly all of our partners lacking the systems to actually effectively process, track, and direct attention related to their next actions and projects. For our organization, a small preschool, the Getting Things Done principles are largely lacking but I don't know if they would be appreciated. Then projects and next actions are not being processed, tracked, or prioritized effectively.

5 Replies
Tyler Danke

absolutely I would recommend that organizations provide some support around the responsibilities of role filling. We provide and require use of Asana for supporting this. We have drafted our own internal operations manual for how we use Asana as well. Also obviously we have a weekly tactical meetings where we have some of these as Checklist items, Metrics, and Project Updates. For us it doesn't so much matter if the help is "appreciated" or not. We protect the process and hold it as the only way.

Tyler Danke

We also adopted a Role Hour Policy that obligates role fillers to direct attention and resources to different roles. It is almost the exact same as HolacracyOne's Attention Point system.

Policy: Role Hour System

This policy defines a new type of currency for the organization, called "Role Hours" (or RH's for short). Role Hours will ultimately get allocated to a role, to "fund" the role with team member attention. A role allocated 40 Role Hours indicates the ideal attention for that role equals one 40 hour per week team member in total.

No team member may dedicate more focus to a role on a sustained, ongoing basis than is called for by the allocated Role Hours. Further, if a team member has more Role Hours assigned to them than the total hours per week they are working, the number of RH's associated with each assignment should be interpreted as a rough relative prioritization for how to split attention across roles; however, any conflicting prioritizations shall overrule this one (e.g. explicit prioritizations given by a relevant Lead Link or other prioritization role/system). For the purpose of these calculations, if a role is multi-filled, the Role Hours allocated to the role are considered to be evenly divided across the role-fillers, unless otherwise specified by the Team Diplomat.

Only the Lead Link of the circle adopting this policy may create new Role Hours, and once created they become a resource of the circle, similar to a cash budget. Team Diplomats own and control Role Hours. They may allocate them to a role to fund desired attention within the role. Once allocated to a role/circle, Role Hours may be unallocated and reallocated by Team Diplomats.

In addition to allocating a specific number of Role Hours to a role, Team Diplomats may also allow a role-filler to self-allocate RH's to the role from the funder's budget, within any constraints desired. For example, Team Diplomats might specify an allocation of "Whatever is Needed" on a role providing a key support function, and tell the role-filler to self-allocate as many RH's as he/she needs to get enough attention in the role to prevent critical work from dropping (these RH's would still come from the Circle's supply, they would just get allocated by the role-filler based on experience, rather than by the Team Diplomats based on an intended funding level).

Created: May 24, 2016
Last Updated: May 24, 2016
Affects Domain: All functions & activities within the Circle
Karilen Mays

This is really common Jenn for organizations to realize they want to be more clear and have more transparency into what work is getting committed to and done. This issue is often brought to light when organizations implement Holacracy, and I think the best approach is to provide whatever education and support you can to the team. You can do anything from attending or bringing in professional trainings to hosting your own working sessions to address this.

Then, as individuals process tensions you will naturally do a little bit better over time. One person requesting a project will help another learn to track it. Even if you provide GTD or productivity training to only one person or you can only get the book, or even if you can just host a working session talking about the constitution and providing peer support to create lists, it will be better than what you had. 

It may be that talking about the duties of a role filler and supporting people to just create a physical cork board of projects and actions is enough for now.

At least the constitution allows us to have the conversation and get clear on how organized and overcommitted we are in terms of what agreements (outcomes and next actions) we have...


Yes!  I think training in this area is critical for any organization running Holacracy.  Without training on GTD methodology, you'll have trouble getting people to effectively leverage the system and maintain productivity as they transition to self-management.  We have a couple of roles responsible for carrying out this kind of training.

Unlike one of the commenters above, we do not require any particular software/tool be used for trusted systems, only that each person have a reliable one.  It comes up from time to time that perhaps by policy we should restrict to 1-3 tools so that we can drive greater alignment between people and get more detailed in our trainings, but we haven't taken that step yet.

Keith Jarvis

I like everything I'm reading - and it's to be noted that without use of something like Asana or other task/project management, that there is a minor but appreciable gap in GlassFrog - around ACTIONS.

While PROJECTS created during Tactical (or offline) are created and therefore reviewable, ACTIONS disappear except for email notification and meeting history. We've jury-rigged a manual solution with an external Checklist/Metric spreadsheet in Google that our @Secretary copy/pastes action items in then expect circle members to mark completion and/or note prior to each tactical, and have included some review of that tab in spreadsheet into our preamble.