Governance Meeting Overview
Governance Meetings are one of the two meeting processes prescribed by the Holacracy Constitution. Every Circle runs its own governance meetings. The focus of this meeting is to modify the structure of the Circle. Specifically, in a Governance meeting you can:
Create, remove, or modify the Roles of the Circle
Create, remove, or modify the Policies of the Circle
Elect people to the elected core roles of the Circle (Facilitator, Secretary, and Rep Link)
Governance Meeting Process
This round is a space for every participant to call out any distraction and get present for the meeting. Everyone speaks, one at a time.
A simple space to triage any administrative and logistical issues to take into account for the meeting. E.g., We have 2 hours for the meeting; Joe needs to leave early; we’ll be bringing lunch at 1pm; etc. Anyone can participate.
Building the Agenda
The goal is to build an agenda of tensions to process. It’s not a space for discussion; just use only one or two words to capture a tension to process and add it to the agenda. There is no specific order and anyone can add items to the agenda. If needed, the Secretary captures the agenda items for everyone.
Process each agenda item with the Integrative Decision Making process
The proposer can describe a tension and make a proposal to resolve it. Only the proposer speaks. Alternatively, the proposer can request some discussion in order to get to a proposal. However, this is not a discussion to reach a consensus around the issue, it’s *only* a discussion to help the proposer come up with a proposal to address the tension as he or she senses it.
Anyone can ask questions to better understand the proposal. The proposer can answer or say “not specified” if he or she doesn’t have an answer. No order, anyone can ask as many questions as they need. It’s not a space for back and forth discussion; rather, the pace should be of one answer for one question; pause; then next question.
It’s NOT allowed to use clarifying questions to give an opinion about the proposal. Opinions, suggestions, reactions, all should be left for the Reaction round coming next. The Facilitator will cut off any question that’s conveying an opinion or isn’t intended at better understanding the proposal. There is no hard line between clarifying question and reaction, and it’s at the Facilitator’s discretion to discern between the two.
One at a time, each person reacts to the proposal as they see fit. No response or interruption is allowed during someone’s reaction. Any type of reaction is welcome, from intellectual critiques to emotional outbursts. The only caveat is that reactions should not be engaging someone in particular. Everyone reacts except the proposer.
Reactions are the only step of the governance meeting when people can speak freely. It’s a perfect phase for providing different perspectives and suggesting improvements to the proposal, so that the proposer can integrate those changes if he or she likes them.
Amend & Clarify
After all reactions are complete, the proposer can optionally clarify the intent of the proposal, or amend it based on the reactions. Only the proposer speaks; no discussion allowed.
Although the proposer can modify the proposal however he wants, the goal is for the proposer to amend his proposal if he found a better way to address his tension. It’s not his job to address all the concerns and reactions he heard during the reaction round, or even to make improvements that were suggested by other participants.
One at a time, the Facilitator asks each participant if they see “any reason why adopting this proposal would cause harm or move the Circle backwards” (i.e. the definition of an Objection). The proposer also gets the opportunity to raise an objection. Objections are stated, tested, & captured without discussion. One person may have several objections, and everyone’s objections must be captured before we move to the next step.
If there is no objection, the proposal is adopted, and we move to the next agenda item.
If one or several Objections were raised, the Facilitator moves to the Integration step. The goal is to amend the proposal so that it would not cause the Objection, and would still address the proposer’s original tension. Objections are integrated one at a time. For each objection, the Facilitator facilitates a discussion to help integrate the objection. Mostly the objector and the proposer speak, but others can help as well. The discussion stops as soon as the objector and the proposer have both agreed that an amended proposal would not cause an objection while still addressing the proposer’s tension.
Once all objections are integrated, go back to an Objection round to ensure there is no new objection.
Each person can share a closing reflection to improve the next meetings. No discussion.
Governance Meeting Explanation
Where there are multiple people there are multiple perspectives. This 70-minute video explains governance meetings and highlights the Integrative Decision-Making process used to approve changes to the organization’s governance. This process integrates multiple perspectives without endlessly trying to reach consensus. We recommend you watch our intro webinar first for better context.