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Grokking Holacracy Governance 


Grokking Holacracy Governance 

Koen Veltman shares a company post that uses metaphors to explain Holacracy governance.

The Map is Not the Territory

Normally, I like my coaching to be concrete — e.g., here’s what you need to ask for, here’s how you need to ask, etc. But this post, I’d like to share several orienting metaphors to help early practitioners grok what governance is all about. I’m taking a shotgun approach by not presenting them in any particular order. I hope at least one helps.

#1. Governance is…a Roadmap

Governance is an organization’s unique map of its current expectations, restrictions, and authorities. And I mean that literally. It’s a map. So, governance only shows you possible pathways, where you can and can’t go. Just like a roadmap doesn’t tell you if you should go from NYC to Florida — it only tells you if you can and the different routes you could take to get there.

There are a million little decisions to make driving down the road and the map isn’t designed to help you with those, just as an accountability will tell you what others can expect of you, but it’s still up to the role-filler to use their own interpretation and best judgement to figure out how to energize that accountability.

#2. Governance is…a Genie

Without a manager telling everyone what to do, we need the right to request things of each other. That’s how self-organization works. Since governance is a shared set of expectations (defined through a collaborative and fair process), practitioners can use it to request anything they wish from each other. It’s like having your own magic lamp (or magic wand).

Imagine you’re annoyed about slow customer response times. Simply check governance; is there a role that cares about that (as defined by their accountabilities or purpose?) If so, request a project, “Customer response times dramatically improved,” or whatever outcome your heart desires. If that outcomes makes sense to work toward, then the role-filler must take it on. Simple. It’s off your plate. Move on. Let them use their judgement to figure out how to accomplish it. After all, why go through the methodological governance meeting process if it’s not going to make things easier day-to-day?


Key points include:

  • Honoring agreements
  • Participation and contribution
  • Traffic Control Systems


Read the full article, Holacracy Basics: Metaphors for Understanding Governance, on