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Filtering by Tag: Holacracy glossary

How Lead Links lead

Pieter Wijkstra

A Circle’s Lead Link inherits the Purpose and any Accountabilities on the Circle itself, and controls any Domains defined on the Circle, just as if the Circle were only a Role and the Lead Link filled that Role.
— Holacracy Constitution 4.1, article 2.2.1

Explanation

Seen from above, the Lead Link is the person to whom a Circle assigns a set of accountabilities for him/her to organize. In this context, organizing means assigning roles: the Lead Link is the only one in the Circle who can assign roles. The Lead Link can do so at his discretion.

In practice

A Lead Link is the closest you can get to a traditional manager in Holacracy. He behaves similarly to a traditional manager in many things:

  • Establishing performance metrics

  • Maximising Circle performance

  • Monitoring Circle member performance

  • Defining Circle strategies

However, a Lead Link has only two unique tools to help him. First, he can reshuffle Role assignments if he believes moving Roles between team members will improve performance. Second, he can publish Strategies which serve as a guideline for each Circle member in prioritizing work. Other than that, the Lead Link can use the tactical and governance process just like any other team member may. 

Filling a Lead Link Role is hardly ever a full-time job; usually, a Lead Link fulfills one or more 'regular' Roles in the Circle too, placing him far more in the midst of the team rather than above. 

Additional information

Contrary to the traditional manager, a Lead Link has far less authority. First, a Lead Link may only influence the prioritization of Circle Members' activities; he cannot step in and direct how Circle Members should work. Nor does the Lead Link have any explicit authority to 'sign off' or 'approve'  any work done by Circle Members.

Note that, to safeguard the Circle from (accidentally) transforming the Lead Link to a traditional manager, no accountabilities may be added to the Lead Link Role. Period. For similar reasons, a Circle's Lead Link may not be elected as Facilitator or Rep Link. The Rep Link in itself is also meant to 'balance' the Lead Link; it is the Lead Link who represents a Circle in the Super-Circle. Think of the Rep Link as the 'upward channel'  whereas the Lead Link is a 'downward channel'.

For the Lead Link, assigning Roles is an ongoing activity, and he can do so outside of Tactical and Governance meetings.

The Lead Link is assumed to fulfill any unassigned roles. Remember: The Lead Link is assigned with the accountabilities of the Circle, so if he opts not to assign a Role then who else is accountable?

A Circle's Lead Link is assigned by the Super-Circle's Lead Link. (seen from the Super-Circle, any Sub-Circle is a Role)

Relevant articles: 2.2, 2.4, 2.5.1, 2.6.3 

Domains

Pieter Wijkstra

Things the Role may exclusively control and regulate as its property, on behalf of the Organization
— Holacracy Constitution 4.1, article 1.1(b)

Explanation

A circle can establish a domain if it wishes to regulate access to something within the circle's control. It can be anything: an asset (all the heavy-duty machinery), segments defined by the organization (customers located in the Netherlands), activities (maintaining IT hardware), intellectual property (Logo) and other things. 

National parks are open to the public, provided they pay entry fee and comply with park regulations. Park rangers ensure visitors adhere to this. 

National parks are open to the public, provided they pay entry fee and comply with park regulations. Park rangers ensure visitors adhere to this. 

 

In practice

Controlling and regulating does not imply no one may use/access the domain other than whoever holds the domain. It means he/she oversees the access and usage of this item and anyone wishing to access/use it must ask his/her permission. A domain holder has the duty of processing such requests, even over executing other work. 

Policies

Granting permission on an individual basis can be cumbersome and may introduce unnecessary delays. Hence the opportunity for the domain holder to publish policies which stipulate the conditions under which (certain) people may access the domain without domain holder approval.

Additional information

Within a circle 'All functions and activities' is also considered a domain. This implies the circle can establish policies regarding the work that the circle does. (Sample: 'all social media outings must mention the name of the organization'). 

If a domain is delegated to a subcircle that chooses not to delegate it to a Role within this subcircle, then the following applies:

  • Establishing policies for all circle member is done via governance in the subcircle
  • The circle's lead link may establish policies in the Supercircle

Relevant articles: 1.1.(b), 2.1.2, 2.1.3, 4.1.2(c), 4.1.3(a)

Tactical meeting variations

Pieter Wijkstra

We frequently get feedback that Tactical meetings follow a strict process. Which is true – you can read it here (Article 4.2.3) as it is defined in the constitution. And it is not true – in this blog post we want to share a couple of variations you can use within this process.

Let's take the meeting process step by step. And remember it's up to you to decide how you want to fill the tactical time you have as a circle.

The check-in

  • Min: Just give a thumbs up, a quick nod, say “check”
  • Max: Meditate for a minute and then share what got your attention

The pre-amble: checklists, metrics & project updates

It's there to build together a 'radar overview' of where the circle stands. But actually, you could just skip-it. You have the option to include check-lists, metrics, project updates – but if they are not there then just let it go.

Checklists

By constitution are just quick yes/no’s. If you need more then maybe add it as a metric? Or it benefits better to be on the agenda. You could just trigger that with a checklist saying something like “is there news on topic X which I will put on the agenda to process?”

Metrics

  • Min: just share the numbers. Or not even that. Just show the dashboard on the screen and have people read it for a couple of seconds after which they can just by themselves add tensions to the agenda.
  • Max: role by role you give the metrics number from the dashboard and add a couple of comments to it why the number is the number – share what you believe is really interesting for the circle to know!

Project updates

  • Min: Say “no updates” or "will share info/need/action/... in separate agenda item"
  • Max: go project by project and share the highs/lows of the progress you made. Typically amazing things happen when you are transparent about things that are not going so well.

Processing tensions

  • Min: Say "I want to inform the group that I have taken the following action ... "  - no discussion.

  • Max: Use the time to facilitate a group discussion on a particular topic. For these discussions, it is very important to assure that spending this time adds value (is likely to) for all participants. If the topic only concerns a few of the participants, it is a better idea to book dedicated time for this topic outside of the tactical meeting.

Closing round

  • Min: "Great meeting"

  • Max: Lengthy reflection, possibly introducing new bits of information. 

Is this variation not yet enough for you? Then two more suggestions:

  • Anything that happens in the tactical meeting can be done outside the tactical meeting. You can share your metrics online, work out loud with a continuous stream of project updates on an open communication platform, and solve tensions as they occur between roles.
  • Check for example the Scrum app on the Holacracy Community Of Practice on how to adapt the tactical meeting to sync with a scrum way of working.

What are holacracy roles?

Pieter Wijkstra

Definition

A "Role" is an organizational construct with a descriptive name and one of the following: a Purpose, one or more Domains and one or more Accountabilities.  - Holacracy™ Constitution 4.1, article 1.1
Are there prizes for best roles? 

Are there prizes for best roles? 

Explanation

Roles are the 'building blocks' of an organization. Together, they represent all the activities that are performed in an organization. Individually, they show the lowest level at which accountabilities are grouped - so they can be assigned to anyone in the organization.

Circles (teams) can be formed by grouping multiple roles together: the resulting circle then operates one level below the original circle. Seen from the original (the 'super-circle'), this 'sub-circle' is is a single role which is represented by the sub-circles Lead Link and rep link. 

In practice

A single person may fill multiple Roles at the same time, and a single Role can be filled, by multiple individuals. Filling a role comes with a few explicit responsibilities:

  • Processing tensions into meaningful governance
  • Processing purpose and accountabilities into work
  • Tracking the status of work and tensions

Besides responsibilities, a Role comes with authority:

  • Authority to execute any action you believe fits your Role's purpose or accountabilities
  • Authority to control and regulate any Domain delegated to your Role

Amending a Role's purpose, domains and accountabilities is a major aspect of a Circle's Governance process. Assigning roles is not part of the governance process: this is an accountability of the Lead Link and hence falls under 'regular' work which he can do outside of meetings. If he does not assign a role to anyone, the associated accountabilities are his responsibility. 

Roles assignments may be done for a focus area; specifying a certain area of operation for which someone fulfills the role. An example is an "Editor" role, filled by a Spanish native for Spanish articles" and an English native for English articles.

Relevant articles from the Holacracy Constiturion: 1.1., 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2.