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

Setting Objective, Strategy, Plan, and coordination of activities in a Self Organized Manner

Hi, all:


I'm wondering about the best way to design roles that interact with each other so that they are aligned with the concept of Self Organization/Distributed Authority


The way I understand it, there are several principles for Self Organization/Distributed Authority related to role to role interaction:

1. No Role should be assigning tasks to other roles

2. No Role should be supervising other roles to make sure those roles do their accountabilities

3. No Role should be an assistant for everything to another role

4. All Roles have to have some authority for something, i.e., we can't have a role whose function is solely to execute orders.


Is this what others think as well ? Are there more "rules" that weren't covered ?


If we adhere to these rules, then I'm wondering how to best design the roles in the following scenarios:


1. A junior circle member, not fully qualified or competent/experienced enough to fully fill a role.

Do we create a customized role that start with little authority, and then gradually grow the role to include more authorities ? If we do this, however, we are then basing a role on a person, instead of how the work is best structured.

We could also just design the role to fit the work and not the person, and then rely on advice process, i.e. that role needs to ask the experts first before deciding, which minimizes the risk.

In this case, is it a good practice to also create a mentor role ? If we have a mentor role, can we have its accountability to be ensuring the junior circle member becomes fully qualified ? This somehow feels wrong, because we are putting the responsibility of someone's development on another role. 


2. Coordinating Actions and Setting Objectives.

We are expanding a Home Delivery Service nationwide, and are starting to create roles to do this. 

Prior to Holacracy, we would create a hierarchy of positions, starting with the general manager nationwide, who oversees the area Heads, who oversee the home delivery personnels in each region.

We would cascade sales objectives from the General Manager all the way down to the field personnels, the setting of thr objectives were done bottom up, but nevertheless it's consolidsated and tracked at the GM level. The coordination of actions are cascaded as well. All field personnels confirms their plans and actions with the Area Heads, which then confirms and syncs everything with the GM.

Now, how do we accomplish this in a Self Manages/Self Organized way ?

Can one role set the objective at nationwide level, and have other roles set objectives for the areas ?

Can some roles still coordinate actions of other roles to ensure all actions are aligned ? If not, how does the synchronization of activities happen ?


3. Strategic Initiative Completion

Moving to Self Organization Maturity Level 3 in 5 years is set as one of our strategic directions. 

Again, prior to Holacracy, we would simply have someone be in charge of this initiative with the accountability to make this happen. He/she would then assemble a team and tracks the initiative until it is fully completed. 

How is this best accomplished in a Self Organized manner ?

Can we create a role whose accountability is to, say, "Moving the whole organization to reach Self Organization Maturity Level 3" ?

Can we set a role whose job is to strategize and have other roles execute the strategy ?

What if you want the strategy to be consented together? How do you do this ?

what is the best way to handle the overall plan ? Do we have a role having the accountability to decide on  a plan by integrating objections from other roles ? The plan may just be short a short term plan, but a plan nonetheless.

Related question, but off topic: Is this a candidate for a new circle or simply a project within a circle? 


Alot of these questions revolve around how to best set objective, strategy, plan, and synchronize activities which are aligned with Self Organization Principles. 


Thanks in advance for all the help.












2 Replies
Jean-Michel Gode

Hi Dwien,

Interesting questions.
From my experience, designing the structure has to be driven by the reality.

So I would rise your issues with grounded exemples in a gov meeting and process them. You'll be designing the requisite governance step by step.

Hope that helps.

Dien Kwik

Hi, Jean:


Thanks for the reply.


Yes, agree that the changes should be tension driven and not designed up front. 

These examples are actually based on real tensions that we have and while doing the governance for the roles, I was concerned that we are doing it in a way that is making us move farther away from Self Organization, back to the way we normally do it before.


I have some thoughts regarding alternative ways to do coordination:

1. As in Scrum, we could create a role that prioritizes what to do, and then let all other roles align with those priorities

2. We could just not specify how priorities or strategies are set, and let the team figure it out by themselves, perhaps by coming together and consenting on the strategy, objectives, etc.


Any thoughts ?