19. Stay Involved

This page is part of the Holacracy Habits series.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about your habit, requesting work from other roles, but are you actually trying it? Have you asked someone to work toward a specific outcome (e.g. a project)?

If not, why not? Too awkward? Not sure how to ask? Not sure what to ask for? Or maybe you don't have a specific reason or just feel kinda meh about the whole thing?

All of those reasons make sense.

As always, use your judgment. Do what seems right for you. No one has the right to expect you to suddenly and completely change how you work. Yes, Holacracy-powered organizations (HPOs) are different than conventional management systems, and it takes time and practice to become proficient. There is no rush. Experiment a little here and a little there.

Last time we talked about the insanity of “what-by-when” and why projections work better than deadlines. Today we get more concrete.

After someone has accepted a project, how do you make sure it actually gets done? Well, there are lots of ways. The Holacracy constitution describes several duties that are shared by every circle member.

Basically, here is how they work:

Say you’ve requested a project from the Webmaster role. You are getting regular updates on the progress of that project through your tactical meetings, but things aren’t moving as fast as you'd like. So, what can you do? Well, as we said last time, one way is to ask for a projection. Asking, “Given everything you know right now, when do you estimate it will be done?” is a perfectly valid question.

Another way to influence the Webmaster is to just talk to them. Give them context. Give them data. Why is this so important to you? Don't assume they already know. Make sure that the project is actually captured on the circle's project board. It's easy to assume that Webmaster would add it when they accepted it. If they didn't, just explicitly ask them to capture it there.

You could also consider asking the Webmaster for their next action. What is the single next concrete step they are planning to take? If they don't know, offer to help them figure it out.

Finally, remember you can also ask the Circle Lead to re-prioritize the work of Webmaster relative to other work in the circle. In fact, that request would be a great way to practice this habit since the Circle Lead must also accept requests for projects just like any other role.

Any of these options may work. The only wrong way to approach this situation would be to blame and complain behind someone's back (or just even inside your own head). That's not helping move the project forward and it's not the best use of your mental and emotional energy.

Yes, sometimes having these conversations can be awkward. Holacracy, if anything, makes it less so. You can point to a clear set of shared rules and you're not blaming. You're owning your tensions and staying involved.

You don't want to burden others with the impossible task of reading your mind. They can't know what you know: your unique preferences, your unique perspective.

If a project you requested isn't moving fast enough, you have lots of ways to influence things. But all of them are really just asking questions and providing data. That's it.

And, chances are, you're already pretty good at those things.