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Holacracy Explained | Role


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Holacracy Explained | Role

Pieter Wijkstra

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


Roles are the 'building blocks' of an organization. Together, they represent all the activities that are performed in an organization. Individually, they show the most detailed grouping of activities available.

Circles (teams) can be formed by combining multiple roles: 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-circle's 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 my multiple individuals. Role assignment (defining who fills a certain Role) is an accountability of the Lead Link; making it an operational issue (not a governance issue).

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

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. 

Relevant articles: 1.1., 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2.