Holacracy is managing roles, not people

Robertson2016, p. 42

Holacracy is managing roles, not people. In the Governance meetings, only the roles are managed, specific people are assigned later by Lead link.

See also:

Holacracy: role filler does not have to accept proposals

Robertson2016, p. 54

The role filler is responsible for their accountabilities, but they do not have to accept a specific project to achieve their accountabilities (even from their Lead Link)—they can decide what would work best and implement that.

Robertson2016, pp. 49–53

In Holacracy, Lead Link is a member of a super-circle to represent super-circle’s needs in the sub-circle.

Lead links assign roles to people but they are not “managing” people in the traditional sense. They can assign or remove assignment, but they cannot override decisions of others in the circle, they cannot fire or assign salary/compensation.


Holacracy: Governance meetings

Robertson2016, p. 67

In the governance meetings, only the following outputs are valid:

  • manage roles within the circle
  • manage policies governing circle’s resources
  • elect circle members to fill elected roles (facilitator, secretary, rep link)

*manage = create, amend, or remove/dissolve (it is not giving orders, etc.)

See also:

Holacracy: Governance meeting process

Governance meetings are structured and they use “Integrative decision-making process.” See Robertson2016, pp. 69–72 for the reference.

After agenda is built, tensions are processed one at a time. Jumping on a proposal to fix other tensions is not allowed (this prolongs the discussion and increases the chance that no decision is reached). Though everyone is welcome to add their own item to agenda.

Testing objections (Robertson2016, p. 117):

  • objections is a valid tension that would arise if proposal is accepted
  • all must be true:

    • proposal causes harm (not just neutral / failing to resolve original tension)
    • the tension is created by proposal (not pre-existing)
    • either known from data, or if prediction, there would not be enough time to adapt (is it safe to experiment?)
    • if the proposal is adopted, objection could be a valid proposal for the objector (i.e., affects their role)
  • alternatively: objection can be that proposal is unconstitutional (e.g., not valid governance output, outside of circle’s authority)

Holacracy: Tactical meetings

Robertson2016, p. 95

The goal of tactical meetings is to resolve tensions and create clarity on the status (it also produces a visible dashboard with project status). Tactical meetings are held once a week (?).

As governance meeting, this meeting is also structured. See Robertson2016, p. 95 for the detailed flow.

In a nutshell, it boils down into:

  • information gathering (checklists, metrics, project status updates)

    • questions allowed, but no discussions
    • the goal is to surface tensions / possible improvements
  • agenda building

    • two-word prompt for every tension, no discussion
  • tension resolution

    • for each item in agenda, define “what do you need?” and assign next-actions
    • important: often, the proper resolution involves changing roles and their accountabilities, and these can only be changed in the governance meetings. In such a case, the next-action should be to create a proposal for the next governance meeting.

      • if immediate change is required, a role filler can be asked to help before the next governance meetings