6. The Sausage Grinder

This page is part of the Holacracy Habits series.

Most people are surprised to learn that there are no rules in the Constitution about what you can bring up in a Governance meeting. However, there are some rules about what can come out of the process. It’s like a Sausage Grinder: Put in whatever you want; the process grinds it all up and gives you something useful on the other side! In fact, you don’t even need a proposal to bring something up. You just need a tension. You can ask for some discussion to help you come up with a starting proposal (but don’t pre-filter yourself to build consensus — you can amend your proposal after the reaction round).

But if the only valid outputs of a Governance meeting are changes to roles, policies, or domains, then what happens when the proposal has nothing to do with changing the Governance? In that case, you can raise an objection during the objection round. Specifically, you raise the Not Valid Governance Ouput (NVGO) objection. When that happens, the proposal moves into integration and it gets fixed collaboratively. So, the burden is not on the proposer to make a good proposal. If the proposal causes any harm, then others will raise objections and then you’ll fix it, together. That’s why we use objections. They help us make minimally sufficient changes to the proposal to move things forward.

While objections are often uncomfortable at first, they are the fastest way to figure out what changes are absolutely needed. The faster we figure that out, the more time we have to process other agenda items. So, it’s easy to think objections are indications that a proposal is bad, incomplete, or doesn’t belong in a Governance meeting. Instead, think of objections as “requests for integration”. Use them. Trust others to use them.

It’s much faster to put your idea out there and encourage objections than to try to predict all possible issues others may have with your idea. (You could even say during Amend & Clarify, “The proposal works for me, but I encourage others to raise objections if needed.”)

So, remember there are no rules in the Constitution about what you can bring up in a Governance meeting. Objections act like a safety rail to keep things on track. Keep practicing your habit, Record Tensions for Governance, and trust that others can help you by raising objections. You’ll find out that you don’t need to practice Holacracy perfectly to effect meaningful change.

Core Concept: Governance MeetingIf you are new to Holacracy and Governance meetings, then be warned. At first, the Governance process feels slow, confusing, and painful. It’s like doing a new exercise. Your body takes time to adapt to the movements.However, it helps to know a little more about each step in the process. You can find that information here. It provides simple guidance on each step as well as a PDF copy of the meeting card that you can download for free. Also, feel free to ask your Facilitator for “time-outs” during a meeting if you have any questions.