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

Validity of objections that refer to how a person is performing in a role


On one meeting a circle member raised an objection like that:

"Because it won't be convenient for me personally to follow these rules, it will affect my performance in the roles I fill. I know that from experience".

Does that sounds like a valid objection to you?

I am a bit confused here, because it's not about the role, but about the person that fills it. How would you test such an objection?

3 Replies

Hey [@mention:471649920894755840]

You could test this objection using question #4  - "does it limit one of your roles?" - and it would probably help as facilitator have the objector get really clear on what the harm is for the role

Couple of extra thoughts:

 - "for me personally" - definitely doesn't sound like a valid objection! 

 - "it will affect my performance" - sounds like there could be some validity in here (IE there could some harm being done to a role - a role is left less able to express its purpose) - but at the moment it's not clearly specified, and it's tangled up in the personal objection. So use the process to tease the two apart.

Hope that helps!

Best wishes, Andrew 



Chris Cowan

Great one! 

Testing this one is tricky because none of the test questions are really designed to get at the confusion (and there are two possible confusions). 

One possible confusion is that they don't understand that accountabilities are 1) up to the role-fillers interpretation; 2) prioritized relative to other work. Meaning, an accountability doesn't allocate resources any more than creating a new role creates a new person. Taking a timeout and explaining this may help, because again the test questions don't really get at it because it's based on a misunderstanding of a concept (followed with, "Knowing that, do you still have that objection?") 

On exception to this, however: It's possible that the proposed governance would necessarily require harmful time/energy (without much or any room for interpretation or prioritization).

Say something like, "Reviewing all company emails, sent and received, for proper grammar." I would object to that, even though I know it's up to my interpretation and I can prioritize it accordingly. Still, there isn't much room to do either of those things, and I might articulate that objection by saying something like, "Because it won't be convenient for me personally to follow these rules..." 


The second possible confusion is between roles and people, and which feels what kinds of tensions and how best to process them. The best way to explain it depends on the situation and your style, but here is an excerpt from my article This Time It's Personal

"Think of it this way. The Goalkeeper is a position (i.e. role) on a soccer team. The expectations of the position of Goalkeeper don’t change depending on the player’s personal issues. Now, if the player in that position is dealing with salary issues, then yes, it absolutely could impact how he (as an individual) performs any given instant. But it doesn’t impact the formal expectations of his position.

He is still expected to do the assigned job (e.g. stop a ball hit in his direction, get the ball to a teammate, etc.).

If the player has salary concerns and he or she feels like it’s impacting his ability to energize his role, then that needs to be figured out. But he shouldn’t be trying to figure that out during the game. This is what we mean by “as Goalkeeper” he or she doesn’t have an issue.

The person filling the role has an issue. Not the role. That’s the distinction."

So, my first move would likely be to convey some understanding and empathy for the tension (it's a real tension felt by them) and then try to explain that they don't have representation "as a person," but that it's a perfectly valid to process that tension in some other way.



Oops yes I had a hidden assumption here that the governance in question would be a policy (or domain) - because that's where it would make sense to me that someone would say "my objection is it will affect the performance". Reading Chris's thorough answer made this assumption clear!