Energizing Project Roles (Holacracy Basics, Part 1)

In project work, we often speak of “Roles”. But rarely it is made explicit, what it means exactly to take on a “Role”. What are the expectations one can have towards you? What expectations can you have towards others?

Holacracy is a framework for collaborative work. It provides explicit and clear rules for how to work together.

In Holacracy, taking on a role means taking the responsibility:

  • to sense tensions for that role and process them.
    A tension is a gap between what is, and what could be better.
  • to break down the role’s accountabilities into projects and next-actions, and to document these projects and next-actions.
    (The role’s accountabilities are decided on in a governance process. You can see examples of role descriptions on our company’s public governance records. (click any small circle.))
  • to continuously decide which projects and actions to work on

(More detail in the Holacracy Constitution, Section 1: http://holacracy.org/constitution#art1)

Filling a role grants the authority to take any action to express the Role’s Purpose or Accountabilities, as long as it doesn’t impact the Domain of another Role without permission. (Constitution 1.4) (More on “Domains” at another time.)

If you fill a role, you are considered a “Circle Member” and can participate in the governance process of the role’s circle, in which existing roles can be modified and new roles created. (2.3.1)

Circle members have the duties

  • to provide transparency over their projects & next-actions and their relative priority to other circle members (more in 4.2.1)
  • to process requests, e.g. requests from other roles to take on projects or actions, or requests to impact one’s domain (4.2.2.)
  • to prioritise in specific ways, especially to prioritise processing inbound messages and requests over doing own next-actions and to place the circle’s needs over their individual role’s goals. (4.2.3)

Holacracy provides meeting processes where role holders can get in sync and “process tensions”, that is: solve any problems that arise and bring in ideas for improvement. It works without a defined “project leader”, as the role holders self-coordinate and -organise.

For more on Holacracy, see What is Holacracy? on our blog with plenty of resources at the bottom.

Holacracy is a registered trademark of HolacracyOne, LLC

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