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

Roles that conflict with accountabilities of another role in the super circle

We have a situation at Springest that I'm not sure how to deal with. The tension is that a role has been created in a circle that overlaps with an accountability of another role in the super circle. The circle (as a role in the super circle) has no accountability or purpose where the new role could fall under.

I was asked as Secretary of the 'offending' circle to see if this is invalid governance, per 3.4.4 of the Constitution:

3.4.4 Striking Invalid Governance

Any Circle Member of a Circle may ask its Secretary to rule on the validity of any Governance of the Circle or any Role or Sub-Circle ultimately contained by the Circle. Upon such a request, if the Secretary concludes the Governance conflicts with the rules of this Constitution, the Secretary must then strike the offending Governance from the acting Governance record. [...]

I don't think I can strike it, because there is nothing in the Constitution about roles and accountabilities either overlapping in other (including the super) circles nor anything about roles in circles having to fit within the circle's accountabilities or purpose given in the super circle.

The proposer of the 'offending' role claims a valid proposal per 3.2.2 of the Constitution (bolded part):

3.2.2 Criteria for Valid Proposals

To be valid for processing, a Proposal must resolve or reduce a Tension sensed by the Proposer. In addition, a Proposal must normally help the Proposer better express the Purpose or an Accountability of one of the Proposer’s Roles in the Circle. [...]

So i'm stuck. Is this valid? Can you theoretically create roles that conflicts/mimics other accountabilities from other roles/circles and consider that valid? Or is it implied that roles inside a circle must at least fall under a direct accountability or the purpose of the circle.

The only solution I can think that would limit this is a domain, because you can't impact domains from other roles without permission. But that does not sound like a good solution, because you'll have to put domains on basically everything then.

Would really like to hear thoughts on the situation and possible solutions besides striking this as invalid as Secretary 

7 Replies
Jean-Michel Gode
11/01/2016

Hi Dennis,

I would suggest to stay "tension driven" and to let the Gov process clarify this issue.

What is the tension behind the proposal to create the role within the Sub-Circle? Is this proposal relevant regarding the grounded activity of the Sub-Circle?

Knowing that if there is any tension, the Upper-Circle may at any time either add a new accountability to the Sub-Circle and restructure the Sub-Circle by moving into it Sub-Circle the "offended" Upper-Circle role, or move out of the Sub-Circle the "offending" role...

Hope that helps,

Bernard Marie Chiquet
11/01/2016
 

The only solution I can think that would limit this is a domain, because you can't impact domains from other roles without permission. But that does not sound like a good solution, because you'll have to put domains on basically everything then.

Would really like to hear thoughts on the situation and possible solutions besides striking this as invalid as Secretary 

Hey Dennis, love this case. I'm not sure I got all the data, especially I'd love to know if the Sub-Circle has got any specific Domains. What I have often experienced  with clients and within iGi, the company I work with, in that when the membrane of Sub-Circles (Purpose + Domains) are not clear enough, then many *structural* tensions surface, and it seems to me that you're in such case (and may be I'm fully wrong and you already have Domains on the Sub-Circle).

In my practice, I pay attention to specify Domains to Circles to gain explicit & clear membrane, so that anyone knows what is inside the Circle and what's not. A Domain may be an activity, a process, a property. For instance, within iGi https://fr.glassfrog.com/organizations/30, we have a Sub-Circle called Consulting. The Domain of such Circle is something like "All consulting activities including business development, sales, delivery, invoicing, cash collection". So that, whatever stuff you have, it's easy to know if it belongs to the Circle or not.

Having explicit Domains added to a Circle is not required by Constitution but it a good practice from my experience. For me, discovering the requisite holarchy is just about that : get clear boundaries for each Circle as soon as possible (without pushing too hard - "you can't grow radishes by pulling on their tails!", and I love that, this is quite fun 

 

Koen Veltman
11/09/2016

Hi Dennis,

as Bernard started above. my reaction depends on a limited understanding of your case. with that disclaimer, here are my 2 cents.

A domain is one way to go. Big benefit is that you put a "fence" around something very clearly. Its explicit that "trespassing" is not allowed with out explicit ok from that role/circle.

But a domain is a heavy thing. I recommend to start with looking at the scope of work defined by the accountabilities of the role in the super-circle and the accountabilities of the sub-circle that hold the role that does something similar. What could you propose in Governance that would reduce the overlap between these two? Where does the work that is now "taken care of twice" naturally belong?

Second thing I would look at is if the role created by the subcircle fits cleary within the accountabilities of the circle. As by article 2.1 a Circle may enact its accountabilities and typically does so by breaking those down by defining its own contained roles. So is there a good reason that role belongs to the sub-circle?

Using 3.4.4 as Secretary if you sence this sub-circle went beyond the scope of the accountabilities given to them is again a heavy measure. Maybe its just another tension requiring some more clarity on how the sub-circle is defined. And the circle itself will act on it once its accountabilities become more clear.

Koen

Koen Veltman
11/23/2016

[@mention:536814946701571536] - any progress already? curious to hear what the step forward is for you

Dennis Paagman
12/15/2016

[@mention:456449141667144364] sorry for not updating earlier, missed your question.

We decided to keep it simple for now, we removed the conflicting role in the sub circle. Basically we now say it's safe enough to try to drop all tensions in the 'correct' circle and that now works for us. So we actually solved it without any big measures.

My conclusion from this are:

  • You cannot expect to be the only one to have an accountability on something without making a domain
  • There are no official measures that prevent sub circles from creating roles that are outside the scope of the purpose or accountabilities of the circle as a whole
  • Domains are a strict way to solve this, but just talking actually solved it for us, we just needed to reassure that tensions will be resolved correctly and quickly.
Jeff Kreh
12/16/2016

[@mention:536814946701571536], love this: "just talking actually solved it for us." That an organization expects to talk regularly and to share difficulties and challenges in a way that seeks solutions speaks volumes. 

Koen Veltman
12/16/2016

[@mention:536814946701571536] - thanks for sharing! and yes what a good solution. I always like when common sense prevails.