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

What to do with pre-Holacracy standing meetings

I got a question from a client recently on what to do with standing meetings that were in place before they adopted Holacracy, and which are still happening afterwards in addition to their tactical meetings.  The client was feeling some tension about these and wondering if some of them should maybe be killed off in favor of tactical meetings, and how to tell. I thought I'd share my response in case it's useful to others - here it is:


In general, just bring up the tension in a governance meeting and see what happens.  Beyond that, here are some more specific thoughts to consider:

  • Some meetings are not for removing obstacles and getting stuff done; often these meetings rarely generate actions or other outputs, and are primarily for information sharing and/or team connection purposes.  Leave these kinds of meetings alone - don’t try to push them into Holacracy’s formats.
  • However, it’s often useful to create a role accountable for convening and facilitating each of these meetings, so you can later add or change what that role is accountable for, instead of just getting stuck with a standing meeting because “it’s how we’ve always done it”.
  • If the meeting is to triage obstacles and help the team get stuff done and the people who are meeting are largely from one circle, then this is an easy meeting to just kill off and let people do that work in the tactical meeting instead.
    • If you want to force the matter, you could propose a policy restricting people from using that legacy meeting, and instead requiring any tensions that someone would usually have raised in it be raised in tactical instead (or dealt with outside of meetings).
    • If you need an extra step in the tactical meeting to accommodate something you’re doing in these meetings and that isn't covered in the basic tactical meeting format, then propose that added step in that circle's governance meeting.
  • If the meeting is to triage obstacles and help the team get stuff done but the people invited to the meeting are across multiple circles, then this is a much trickier challenge with no clear answer.
    • Sometimes it’s best to kill the standing meeting and see what happens - maybe some of that work is better dealt with in various circles’ tactical meetings, or outside of a standing meeting with clear roles reaching out to each other directly.  Like water finding its way downhill, when you kill the current pathway for meeting a need, people will find an alternative, and it can be instructive to watch what route they take.
    • Sometimes it’s best to keep the standing meeting but create a role accountable for convening & facilitating it, and appointing someone into that role who is a reasonably skilled Holacracy facilitator, so they can still bring role clarity and Holacracy-style tension-processing coaching into the meeting.
    • It may even be useful to keep the meeting and have us shadow or even facilitate a couple, so we can bring the role clarity coaching and get a better sense what the meeting is achieving and advise you better from there.


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