Projects and Actions
Projects and Next Actions (or simply "Actions") are the output of Tactical Meetings. Their definition in Holacracy is very close to their definition in the Getting Things Done (GTD) method. In a nutshell, a Next Action, as the name indicates, is the next concrete action that someone is going to take. A Project is simply an outcome — small or big — that someone is working toward.
A Next Action is the next concrete action needed to move toward completion of your project — or it can be outside of any project. It's both very simple and can be difficult to get to: it requires discipline to constantly answer the question "what's the next thing I need to actually, concretely, do?"
Examples of Next Actions:
- Email Chris to ask for the client's documents
- Save a high-resolution picture of our logo
- Google how to build an electric space rocket
A Project is an outcome to work toward, with a beginning and an end, which takes more than 1 action to complete (otherwise it's just that: an action). See the definition in article 1.2.2 of the Constitution.
Projects are sometimes associated with big and complex pieces of work taking weeks or months to complete. However, in Holacracy, Projects can be big or small, it doesn't matter.
Projects format: in the past tense
Since Projects are really outcomes, it is good practice to capture your projects as an outcome in the past tense.
Examples of Projects:
- January Newsletter sent out to our followers
- New pricing developed for our new widget
- Website redesigned with company colors
- Wiki page on projects & actions published
- Student papers graded and delivered
This 'outcome' format forces clarity on what one is exactly working toward. For each of your projects, you should be able to answer a simple true/false test: e.g.: "Is it true that the student papers have been graded and delivered?" If yes, then the project is done. If no, then it's not done and you still have some actions to take.
There are bigger projects (e.g., "New electric space rocket manufactured to go to Mars") and smaller projects (e.g. "Press release draft reviewed and edited"). Both are considered projects. There is no rule about whether you should capture a big project as it is or break it down into smaller projects. There might be best practices for the field of work you are in, but nothing is specified by Holacracy.
Ongoing projects may a the sign that something is off:
- Projects that have no end (e.g., "Customers satisfied with our products") are either very large and might benefit from being broken down, or they are simply not really projects. Remember that a Project must have a beginning and an end, so if what you're doing looks more like an ongoing activity that you are never going to complete, then it might be an Accountability.
- Projects that repeat themselves on a regular basis (e.g. "Weekly newsletter sent to our customers") are fine to track as Projects, but it might be easier to track them as Checklist items.