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

Sub-circle absorption to parent Circle

I am secretary for a small sub-circle. Because we work to triage issues all the time outside of meetings, we often do not have much to discuss at tacticals. I know we can change our meeting schedule to meet less often and also to process things via email and auto-adopting proposals. 

But some would like to become part of the larger circle, so we are starting to discuss this.

I believe our work is distinct enough to be separate from the larger circle. Our Lead Link prefers to have our own sub-circle governance, and I tend to agree. 

Those who feel we should join the larger circle cite that there should be more transparency to the larger circle about our decisions - especially to the Lead Link of the parent circle. My response to that is that anyone can follow the ouputs or policies. Or just ask us questions about how work in the sub-circle is handled.

The group is evenly divided on this issue, and I would like to know what would be the real test of making the move to be absorbed by our parent circle.

Many thanks. 


4 Replies
Ruben @ Springest

IMO the only test is to just do it, if it is safe enough to try. It's as simple as a governance proposal within the super circle by someone that has the tension (for instance the rep or lead link of the sub circle). 

Re not much to discuss in tacticals: this is indeed a sign that the circle is maybe mostly overhead. Usually you'd have a few roles with a dozen projects and metrics, that should trigger enough updates that trigger enough tensions to have  a meaningful tactical in my experience.

Juliane Martina Röll

I wonder why you are debating this,and not processing it in Governance or Tactical just like anything else: If anyone has a tension about the circle structure, they can take action. The process ensures that this is safe. 

There seem to be all kinds of different tensions at play here, and a lot of groupthink. The circle would probably benefit from more individual tension processing rather than consensus-seeking discussion outside of formal Holacracy meetings.

(Which raises another, almost-meta question for your organisation's Holacracy practise: Do people feel safe and empowered to process their tensions in Holacracy meetings? That fact that people are processing their governance-related tensions outside of meetings might indicate a problem there.) 

Jean-Michel Gode

Hi Jennifer,

Take care to process real grounded tensions coming from operations, sensed through the roles at play, and related to concrete examples. Not "we should" or "we could" out of ground thoughts or feelings...

Hope that helps.

Keith Jarvis

Good questions and answers. I'd add one more: is there a real, live, compelling reason (qualifying tension) that would be addressed by collapsing the sub-circle into the broader circle?

It's not just objections that are tested, but proposals. Any proposal that comes about could be asked to describe the tension and give a live example of a situation that could have been prevented if the circles were joined.