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

Why impose everyone to vote during integrative election ?

Hello,

I wonder : what does it mean for you to impose during an "integrative election" that everyone fills a ballot?


What makes that the possibility is not left to a member to be released from the process by not participating?
I wonder if there is an imperative motive or if it is only because it is the use?
 
10 Replies
Fritz von Allmen
12/12/2018

Hi Jean-Luc

Funny you mention this topic, I read through the same passage yesterday; I was wonder if it's possible to give more than one "vote" during an election - it is not.

I can imagine the intention is to bring full transparency and participation. You cannot "hide" with your estimation nor can you deny to help the circle find an appropriate person for a role.

Integrative election is not a bad tool IMHO, but sometimes it feels awkward if you are accustomed to "democratic election".

Leandro
12/13/2018

I also do not see the reason for not allowing someone abstaining.

There are colleagues that vote on names that do not exist just because they do not want to vote, which is the same as abstaining.
How are you going to force a colleague to cast a 'real' vote? It is just not possible.

Maybe the idea is to avoid someone pressuring peers not to vote?
There might be extreme situations when that could occur and maybe this rule is for those exceptions?

Paul Walker
12/13/2018

When I implemented Holacracy, we abandoned the concept of not being able to abstain VERY quickly. We do talk about the importance of voting, but ultimately let people opt-out if they want to.

My assumption was the rule that nobody can abstain is just to make sure that nobody opts-out of voting, but still objects to whoever was nominated. We just took it as "You can abstain if you want to, but you won't have a say in the rest of the process, including the objection round."

Leandro
12/14/2018
Paul Walker posted:

When I implemented Holacracy, we abandoned the concept of not being able to abstain VERY quickly. We do talk about the importance of voting, but ultimately let people opt-out if they want to.

My assumption was the rule that nobody can abstain is just to make sure that nobody opts-out of voting, but still objects to whoever was nominated. We just took it as "You can abstain if you want to, but you won't have a say in the rest of the process, including the objection round."

I like this approach, it makes complete sense, although I still would like to know the reasoning behind the decision of not allowing people to opt-out.

Chris Cowan
12/17/2018

I've wondered as well and so I don't have an answer I'm confident in, but I have an intuition about it.

I suspect that it's there to lessen the likelihood that the voting will become politicized. That is, if everyone must vote, then the act of voting doesn't carry any connotations one way or another.

So, you don't want someone abstaining because they're afraid to make their opinion transparent (while it's understandable it generally only furthers the dynamic), so voting isn't a choice. You have to pick someone, BUT you can just say you picked them for "No reason," or, "For the reasons already given." And with that explanation provided to them, I've never had any issues or additional requests to abstain. 

I think requiring a vote parallels the principle of a governance meeting in which the agenda-item owner must present some sort of proposal. That is, you must provide a suggestion of some sort. You can't just complain and expect others to fix it for you. Since an elected role is an output of everyone's vote, you need to contribute to that output. And, as I said above, that doesn't mean you must have a strong opinion, you just need an opinion. Just as you must respond in the reaction round and objection round even if just to say, "I don't have anything to say."

Again, I don't feel super-confident in this answer because I've never practiced the process without requiring everyone to vote, so I don't have any first-hand experience with the tension/s that might have led to this. 

Now, with that said, here is where it gets tricky for me. And this is kind of along Paul's response. Imagine you leave a governance meeting to go to the bathroom and you miss the processing of an agenda item. You miss everything. So what? That happens. Hopefully, the Facilitator won't follow you in there to see if you have an objection.

Or, you're in a governance meeting, but you just got an important email and decide, "Hey everyone, I'm officially leaving this meeting, but I'll just be sitting here responding to this email." It seems very similar to abstaining from a vote. 

In these cases, nothing is GAINED by removing yourself from the process, but I can't say that anything has necessarily been LOST either. Since we can "put on" or "take off" any of our roles in an instant, it's like you just said, "Hey Facilitator, for this one agenda item, I'm not going to be here officially in any of my roles. I'm just going to be sitting here."

With that interpretation, I may prohibit anyone from abstaining, but I can't prohibit them from deciding at that moment, for that item, they are no longer "in the meeting." This is effectively the same as abstaining, but with two caveats. 

First, abstaining by removing yourself from the meeting means that neither the Facilitator nor the Secretary could use it as a loophole because they'd still there at least in those roles and therefore would at least need to explicitly hand over authority to someone else to try and use it. 

Second, even though you can make that argument and use that interpretation to effectively allow for abstaining, you have to ask, "But why would you need to do that?" Again, in the examples I gave above like going to the bathroom, sure that happens because there are occasions when things actually need your attention or are more important than the meeting itself, so responding to an emergent need makes sense. 

But intentionally trying to "leave the meeting" for a particular item seems really strange. Like, the expectations are very low. Don't ask questions. Say, "No reaction," and "no objection." And I imagine most people who have been through a lot of governance meetings have at some point done this exact thing. 

So, again, "Why would you need to leave the room/abstain?" The only motivations I can imagine are all based upon misunderstandings of how the process works, or what a vote signifies.

Which is it's probably important to address those misunderstandings by requiring a vote (but allowing or encouraging them to say, "No reason"), rather than enabling the confusion. 

With that said, whenever I've Facilitated a client meeting and a vote comes up, I always find it weird to nominate someone since I don't know anything about anybody. And while there are benefits to just following the rules (i.e. I know to just stop at a stoplight regardless of whether or not another car is coming), there are also costs to following rigid rules when there may be better solutions (i.e. maybe that stop sign should be a yield sign instead). The most impactful of which potentially eats away at one's trust in the rules as a whole. 

So, if anyone has any suggestions for language changes in the constitution regarding the election process, please share them here or on Github as that might just be the best way to go. 

 

Leandro
12/18/2018
Chris Cowan posted:

I've wondered as well and so I don't have an answer I'm confident in, but I have an intuition about it.

I suspect that it's there to lessen the likelihood that the voting will become politicized. That is, if everyone must vote, then the act of voting doesn't carry any connotations one way or another.

So, you don't want someone abstaining because they're afraid to make their opinion transparent (while it's understandable it generally only furthers the dynamic), so voting isn't a choice. You have to pick someone, BUT you can just say you picked them for "No reason," or, "For the reasons already given." And with that explanation provided to them, I've never had any issues or additional requests to abstain. 

I think requiring a vote parallels the principle of a governance meeting in which the agenda-item owner must present some sort of proposal. That is, you must provide a suggestion of some sort. You can't just complain and expect others to fix it for you. Since an elected role is an output of everyone's vote, you need to contribute to that output. And, as I said above, that doesn't mean you must have a strong opinion, you just need an opinion. Just as you must respond in the reaction round and objection round even if just to say, "I don't have anything to say."

Again, I don't feel super-confident in this answer because I've never practiced the process without requiring everyone to vote, so I don't have any first-hand experience with the tension/s that might have led to this. 

Now, with that said, here is where it gets tricky for me. And this is kind of along Paul's response. Imagine you leave a governance meeting to go to the bathroom and you miss the processing of an agenda item. You miss everything. So what? That happens. Hopefully, the Facilitator won't follow you in there to see if you have an objection.

Or, you're in a governance meeting, but you just got an important email and decide, "Hey everyone, I'm officially leaving this meeting, but I'll just be sitting here responding to this email." It seems very similar to abstaining from a vote. 

In these cases, nothing is GAINED by removing yourself from the process, but I can't say that anything has necessarily been LOST either. Since we can "put on" or "take off" any of our roles in an instant, it's like you just said, "Hey Facilitator, for this one agenda item, I'm not going to be here officially in any of my roles. I'm just going to be sitting here."

With that interpretation, I may prohibit anyone from abstaining, but I can't prohibit them from deciding at that moment, for that item, they are no longer "in the meeting." This is effectively the same as abstaining, but with two caveats. 

First, abstaining by removing yourself from the meeting means that neither the Facilitator nor the Secretary could use it as a loophole because they'd still there at least in those roles and therefore would at least need to explicitly hand over authority to someone else to try and use it. 

Second, even though you can make that argument and use that interpretation to effectively allow for abstaining, you have to ask, "But why would you need to do that?" Again, in the examples I gave above like going to the bathroom, sure that happens because there are occasions when things actually need your attention or are more important than the meeting itself, so responding to an emergent need makes sense. 

But intentionally trying to "leave the meeting" for a particular item seems really strange. Like, the expectations are very low. Don't ask questions. Say, "No reaction," and "no objection." And I imagine most people who have been through a lot of governance meetings have at some point done this exact thing. 

So, again, "Why would you need to leave the room/abstain?" The only motivations I can imagine are all based upon misunderstandings of how the process works, or what a vote signifies.

Which is it's probably important to address those misunderstandings by requiring a vote (but allowing or encouraging them to say, "No reason"), rather than enabling the confusion. 

With that said, whenever I've Facilitated a client meeting and a vote comes up, I always find it weird to nominate someone since I don't know anything about anybody. And while there are benefits to just following the rules (i.e. I know to just stop at a stoplight regardless of whether or not another car is coming), there are also costs to following rigid rules when there may be better solutions (i.e. maybe that stop sign should be a yield sign instead). The most impactful of which potentially eats away at one's trust in the rules as a whole. 

So, if anyone has any suggestions for language changes in the constitution regarding the election process, please share them here or on Github as that might just be the best way to go. 

 

What a perfect reply, Chris!
Thank you for that. :-)

Juliane Martina Röll
12/18/2018

That's a really interesting answer, Chris. What resonates with me most is this: 

you must provide a suggestion of some sort. You can't just complain and expect others to fix it for you. Since an elected role is an output of everyone's vote, you need to contribute to that output.

It reminds me of Elections where at the beginning I had the impression that it was clear anyway who would be (re-)elected. But then, by virtue of being "forced" to nominate, some new, unexpected nominations came up by new members of the circle. This really got the "old" members awake! They now had to nominate "their" favourite candidates and really be clear in their argumentation!

In an ordinary election they would probably have half-heartedly nominated the people expected to be elected, the newbies would have abstained and business as usual would have happened - with much less clarity in the circle.

Anyway, with that memory, and with the theory argument that you made, I now feel much better about the requirement.

Jean-Luc Christin Lyon
12/21/2018

Thank you for these enlightening comments.

I realize that I am left with a questioning after some days : Is it not a paradoxical injunction to want to force someone to take responsibility?
You know: something that sounds like "I order you to be free"

I posted this too on ghitub, I copy this reflection there

Chris Cowan
12/22/2018

[@mention:532592670943008396] Well, at the risk of moving too far off the original topic, I think that's an important question, but in this case, I don't think it's a paradox. It's just a rule in a game. If you want to play this game you have to follow certain rules. It's really nothing more than that. 

In that sense, rules (as long as playing the game is optional) are never really "forcing" anyone to do anything. I wrote a little about my distinction between "control" (i.e. "forcing someone to do something") and "influence" on this blog post if you're interested. 

And FWIW, I appreciate the sense of potential for paradox, so I think it's important to sniff them out. My personal favorite example is telling someone, "Be spontaneous!" In the very speaking of it, you create an un-winnable situation for the respondent. If they are spontaneous, well, then they're only doing it because you told them to (and are therefore NOT spontaneous). And if they stubbornly refuse to be spontaneous (like just standing there), in an act of genuine spontaneity, then, of course, you could also accuse them of not acting spontaneously. 

And I do believe this phenomenon can occur with Holacracy practice, especially as people may be initially told by management something like, "Don't listen to us! Manage yourselves!" That message is very much like "Be spontaneous!" And that doesn't mean don't use them, it just means, should you use them, be aware of how they might completely skew what you observe. 

Jean-Luc Christin Lyon
02/19/2019

Hello,
I answer to [@mention:455886150941203371] on his 12/17/18 post.

I stayed with thoughts around this answer, I'm not in the same paradigm :

I see that the source of your thought is in "**I suspect** that it's going to be in the likelihood that voting will become politicized."
It states "you do not want someone abstaining because **they're afraid** to make their opinion transparent, so voting isn't a choice."
That's a guess, you do not know what's in their head or why they want to abstain

You don't "feel super-confident in this answer because he has never practiced the process without requiring everyone to vote"

So the value of forcing someone to vote is that of **ensuring that voting will not become politicized.**
I think we don't need that value   

**For my part, I do not want to be fear driven. I want to be purpose and process driven**

I've no fear with the politization because of the election process. it is the framework that protects from the effect of politicization.
If one abstains and lets the group decide for him, for example because he has no tension with the election of one or the other, it does not frighten me. If later he has an objection, the process will test it and if necessary, will integrate it.

as you suggested; I posted a proposal on ghithub, the complete discussion is [here](https://github.com/holacracyon.../295#issue-391051211)