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

Who decides which system a circle will use ?

Hi, all:

There is one thing that I've been uncomfortable with and thought I get the opinions of others here.

As a Lead Link for one of our circles, I decided that we will use Scrum for execution, even though the circle isn't a developer circle. 

There has been a pushback on using scrum from some member, and with the unstated complaint that I am forcing them to use something that they haven't agreed to use fully, and that it is back to the "manager" forcing everyone to do it his way.

Can the Lead Link do this actually, i.e. decide that the whole circle will use a certain system in order to express the circle's purpose ? Or, should I have brought it to governance and proposed it as a policy, or proposed a role with the specific domain and accountability to decide on such matters ?

Thanks,

Dien.

 

 

11 Replies
Bernard Marie Chiquet
01/31/2016

Yep Dien, as a Lead Link, you don't have the authority for doing so. I recommend you propose a policy in governance if you want to constrain the circle with such method.

Olivier Compagne
02/02/2016

Hi Dien, 

Like Bernard Marie said, the Lead Link doesn't have the authority to mandate a process, you need to go to governance. There are different ways of achieving it. Two examples: 

Example 1: A policy that describes the process that every circle member must follow.

Policy: All roles involved in software development and supporting activities must follow the Scrum process described below:
...

Example 2: A policy tied to a role. It gives you more flexibility when you want to update the process, as you don't need to propose changes to the policy in governance.

Policy: All roles involved in software development and supporting activities must follow the process defined by the Scrum Master role.

Role: Scrum Master
Accountability: Documenting and publishing a process ("Scrum process") to facilitate agile collaboration between software development related roles.

The tricky part with the policy is that you cannot mandate action from other roles, you can only restrict the way something gets done if the roles choose to engage in it. (see this Wiki page about policies for details). If you want to bring your specific case to one of our coaching sessions, we can look at it in more details. 



UPDATE: I'm editing this post to add an Example 3 that would be more elegant and probably more appropriate. 

First, Dien you could ask yourself the question: what is it that you want to expect from other roles? What activities specifically, and for which roles? 

Instead of trying to use a Policy, you could try defining accountabilities on the circle roles for engaging in activities that you want to see happen as part of the Scrum process. For instance, you could define the roles so that you have a Product Owner, a Scrum Master, and a Developer role. Make those roles accountables for those things they're supposed to be doing according to Scrum. Give a domain to the Product Owner role for "Prioritization of the Product Development Queue" (or similar). In other words, bake in the rules of Scrum into your governance, by defining the roles accordingly. Does it make sense?

--

Lastly, remember that the Lead Link has a very limited set of authorities: 

  • Allocating resources inside the circle (financial, people time, ...)
    • Prioritizing the work that circle members choose to take on (you can give a relative prioritization, e.g. project A is a higher priority than project B)
  • Assigning people to roles, and remove people from roles. 
  • Choosing metrics for the circle that roles will report on


Hope that helps!

Eric Babinet
02/02/2016

Olivier, your example 2 seems identical to granting a domain of "Process for software development and supporting activities" to the Scrum Master role, except that you've also added an accountability to document and publish such a process. Are there differences, or any reason why you might take your approach vs. granting a domain?

Olivier Compagne
02/02/2016

Eric, I think a domain could work too if the process is clearly identified (e.g., all roles in the circle have clear accountabilities tied to that process). However, I find that a policy is clearer and more flexible when there isn't really a clearly identified process for a role to 'own'. 

For example, at HolacracyOne we have the following policy:

Standard File Formats: 
All word-processor documents, spreadsheets, and presentation slides created by any role for ongoing use or reference may only be stored in a standard file format that's approved by Operations.

Instead, you might think of adding a domain on Operations for "Standard File Formats for Documents", but it's not that clear — it's not a clearly identified thing, with clear boundaries, for a role to own without creating confusion.

In my example with the Scrum process, I think you're right, the Scrum process is a more clearly identifiable thing that a role can own. If the Scrum process was referenced elsewhere in the circle's governance, and everybody clearly knows what it is and they're already using it, then I might go with a domain. But it looks like Dien is trying to introduce Scrum to the team, so maybe they don't even have a clear process for coordinating effort between roles at the moment. In that case, I can't think of a clear domain for a role to own —"Process for software development and supporting activities" is too broad and elusive IMO. Even in the policy, it's quite vague — I would recommend that Dien adapts it to something clearer and more specific to his context. 

I don't know if I'm nailing the distinction I want to make, so I hope that makes sense to you...

Kræn Hansen
02/03/2016

If anyone is interested - I would love if we could get together and brainstorm on a new Scrum app for Holacracy - as an alternative to the existing Scrum tactical meeting app. Who wants to join me?

Bhargavi
02/03/2016

I would love to be part of this initiative. Please let me know how can I help

 

Sergey
02/04/2016

I see a few flaws in the App: Scrum Tactical Meeting v1.0 already and being a Certified Scrum Trainer can definitely help in crafting a better version of it. So count me in too.

Dien Kwik
02/04/2016

Thanks a lot Olivier!  That's super clear

Initially, it was something that I introduced and I thought I could act from the "Lead Link handles all undelegated accountabilities" clause, and then just waited if  anyone had tensions and wanted a specific role or policy for this. 

I then created the roles exactly like example 3 in governance just without any formal policy stating that we are going to adopt the scrum. 

All of these went well, until we hit the creation of user stories from customer's point of of view, the short sprint, the replanning every sprint, and ofcourse, the daily standups .  At these points I started to have pushbacks from several members, not all. These are Scrum processes that I can't really put into accountabilities, or perhaps I can, but felt that it was really clumsy that I have to add the same accountabilities to all roles in the circle, i.e. to join sprint planning, to estimate story points, attend daily standups, etc, so I just treat it as something that just needs to be taught.

I knew going in that there will be pushbacks and kept telling everyone that we just needed to stick with it until we get used to it and reap the benefits. This is the part where some started wondering whether or not I could do that as a Lead Link acting out of the undelegated accountabilities thing, and I started wondering how, in Holacracy, can we push something really new if everyone has to "agree" first.

@Kraen, I'd be interested too to help out where I can with an alternative Scrum app.

 

Thanks,

Dien.

 

 

 

Sergey
02/05/2016

Hi Dien,

When you have to mandate all the Scrum meetings and get a pushback from the team it is a sign to me that something is wrong and you should talk to the people on your team to find out what. It could be lack of knowledge (about why we should have those meetings) or many other reasons.

Sidetone: I also get a sense that you are taking too authoritative approach to the Scrum/Holacracy transition. I hope I am mistaken, just tell me I am wrong on this one

Sergey

Dien Kwik
02/05/2016

Hi, Sergey:

Yes, this is an area where I'm trying to get a better balance in I suppose it's me being impatient.  I love the whole self organization concept, but sometimes, at least for me, it seems like I kind of have to "force" people to break free from the old mindset, but in doing so, I'm also reinforcing the old ways of doing things.

One way to soften this is to have it formalized now through governance, so that team members can start proposing stuff if they feel they have tension with the new process, including scrum, and integrate their proposal with my objections, if any.

(For Holacracy, Scrum, and other somewhat major changes, I took the big bang approach according to what I know at the time of implementation. I know some people introduce these types of changes slowly, and prevent major pushbacks that way. I thought it would be better to just jump in and do the whole thing and just continuously reinforce them until they become a habit.)

 

 

 

 

Olivier Compagne
02/06/2016

One way to soften this is to have it formalized now through governance, so that team members can start proposing stuff if they feel they have tension with the new process, including scrum, and integrate their proposal with my objections, if any.

I think you're spot on here Dien. If you process this in a governance meeting, other circle members will have a chance to ask questions, react, and object to your proposal to possibly amend it.

As former CEO or founder of the company (I'm assuming?), you have an extra burden to make sure to stick to the rules of Holacracy — it's the best way you can role model the power shift. It will force you to find other pathways to get what you want than just imposing your will, which will show your team members that you're subject to the same rules as everyone else, and what you're doing they could be doing too. This should defuse a lot of the resistance you're experiencing from them.