Like most other practices, Holacracy has its own terminology. Here is a glossary of key terms.
- 1 Accountability
- 2 Circle
- 3 Constitution
- 4 Cross Link
- 5 Domain
- 6 Election
- 7 Facilitator
- 8 Individual Action
- 9 Governance
- 10 Governance Meeting
- 11 Lead Link
- 12 Metrics
- 13 Next Action
- 14 Objection
- 15 Policy
- 16 Project
- 17 Proposal
- 18 Purpose
- 19 Rep Link
- 20 Role
- 21 Secretary
- 22 Strategy
- 23 Tactical Meeting
- 24 Tension
An ongoing activity of a Role that defines expectations and grants authority. Accountabilities are documented as full sentences that begin with an –ing verb. For example, a “Social Media” Role might have the Accountability of “Posting relevant content to Twitter account.”
A group of Roles that all contribute to the same Purpose. Every Circle has “core roles” (e.g. Facilitator, Secretary, Lead Link, and Rep Link) as well as other Roles doing the work. A Circle is treated like a Role with the additional authority to break itself down into sub-Roles.
The documents that defines the fundamental rules, processes, and other constructs of the Holacracy system for organizational governance and operations. Within an organization running Holacracy, the Constitution the formal power-holder in the organization rather than a specific person (e.g. CEO, President, etc.)
A Role within a Circle used to represent the interests and Tensions of external Circle or organization. When a Circle is created within another Circle, a Rep Link (as opposed to a Cross Link) will be used to represent the interests of the sub-Circle at the Super-Circle.
Similar to a property right, a Domain centralizes control of a resource to a specific Role. For example, a “Social Media” Role might own the Domain of “corporate Twitter account.” A Role may impact its own Domain to achieve its Purpose, but may not impact another's Domain unless given permission.
An integrative process for selecting people to fill the Facilitator Role, Secretary Role, and Rep Link Role. Elections follow the Integrative Election Process that includes nominations and the processing of Proposals and Objections.
An elected Role with the purpose of facilitating the Circle's Governance and Tactical meetings in accordance with the rules of the Constitution. The Facilitator’s Purpose and Accountabilities are listed in the Constitution’s Appendix. Also, the Lead Link of a Circle may not act as a Facilitator for that Circle.
An action taken outside the current Accountabilities of a Role. The decision to take Individual Action should be made consciously having considered the current Governance.
A clear set of rules and expectations including the Circles, Roles, Purposes, Accountabilities, Domains, and Policies of the organization. The organization’s Governance changes in response to the demands of the environment through the processing of Circle member’s Tensions during Governance Meetings.
A recurring meeting to process Tensions related to the Circle’s Governance by making Proposals and raising Objections. Changes can be made to the Circle’s Governance by creating new or making changes to existing Roles, Policies, and Elections. Governance Meetings follow the process outlined in Constitution section 3.3.
An elected Role that holds the Purpose of the overall Circle. The Lead Link is responsible for assigning people to Roles that have been created through Governance Meetings. The Lead Link also allocates resources and defines Priorities, Strategies, and Metrics within the Circle.
Data chosen by the Circle’s Lead Link to provide visibility into the work of the Circle. For example, a Metric for a “Social Media” Role might be “Number of Twitter followers.” It is up to the Lead Link of the Circle to define and assign relevant metrics to the Roles within that Circle.
A concrete action that could take immediately towards the completion of a Project. All Circle members are required to capture and track Next Actions for their Roles in a tangible form and to regularly review and update them.
An Objection is a reason why a Proposal will cause harm or move the Circle backward. A Circle member raises an Objection during a Governance Meeting (or Election) when that member experiences a Tension in response to the Proposal.
A Policy allows or limits others from impacting a Domain. For example, if a “Social Media” Role owns the Domain of “corporate Twitter account” then a Policy might be enacted to allow an “Events Promotion” Role to make posts to Twitter (e.g. “Events Promotion has permission to post events-related content to corporate Twitter account”).
A Project is a specific outcome that requires multiple and/or sequential actions to complete. Projects are phrased in the past tense as in, "Budget report completed." All Circle members are required to capture and track Projects for their Roles in a tangible form and to regularly review and update them.
A recommended change to the Circle’s Governance presented by a Circle member during a Governance Meeting (or Election). A Proposal is based on the proposer’s felt Tension and may involve as many parts as necessary to resolve that Tension.
Clarifies the identity and intention of a Role or Circle. The Purpose orients the action of a Role even absent any other explicit Accountabilities, Policies, Strategies, Priorities, or resources.
An elected Role used to represent the interests of a sub-Circle to its super-Circle. Also note that the Lead Link of a Circle may not serve as the Rep Link of that Circle. Rep Links allow Tensions from the sub-Circle to be processed by the super-Circle when the issue seems to extend beyond the sub-Circle’s current authority.
An organizational entity used to define certain functions of the organization. The definition of a Role includes a Purpose to express, Domain(s) to control, and Accountabilities to perform. The only way for a Role to be created, revised, or destroyed is through the Circle’s Governance process.
An elected Role with the Purpose of aligning Circle Governance and operations with the Constitution through maintaining Circle records, scheduling meetings, and interpreting Governance upon request. The Secretary works actively and collaboratively with the Facilitator during Governance and Tactical Meetings.
An easy-to-remember rule used to guide Circle member’s decisions. A Strategy defines one potentially valuable activity, emphasis, or goal over another. The Lead Link is accountable for defining the Strategies of the Circle and may use whatever process he/she feels is appropriate for gathering input from other Circle members.
A recurring meeting for Circle members to surface operational data, updates, and triage Tensions into Projects and Next Actions. Agenda items are created during the meeting while the Facilitator works to get through all items in the allotted time. Tactical Meetings follow the process outlined in Constitution section 4.3.
A person’s felt sense that there is a gap between the current reality and a potential future. The Circle processes member’s Tensions during its Governance and Tactical meetings. This approach ensures that Governance and operational changes are driven by real experience rather than theory.