Role accountabilities

Hello! We are exploring some concepts re holocracy for our org, and I was thinking you all might be a good resources for a question that has come up.
Can an accountability be shared by more than one role - i.e. can two roles hold the same accountability? We THINK the answer is ‘yes’ if they are actually two different circles/domains, and there are some redundant roles across the organization. in this case, we are looking at roles in two different ‘regions’ (so circles?), that do the same thing, but in their specific regions. Thank you for any help you can give!

I will be answering for sociocracy here where the same question can come up but answers might be a little different. But you asked here so that’s what you get :relaxed: @sarah.koegler

What you’re describing here is very common, for example, in shift work. Two people do the exact same role, just at different times. Or, a more omnipresent example: let’s say 5 people do lawnmowing for a self-governed property. Or 3 people who moderate on social media? Their roles aren’t any different at least at their core.
Of course, it’s hard to share operations so having the same role can make things more complicated. For example, sharing facilitation, in my view, often increases the need for coordination (often just because we didn’t dare to just pick one of the two).

There are a few common questions about this

  • Does everyone who holds an operational role also have to be in the circle?
    (Seems unnecessary sometimes, does every lawnmower have to be involved in making policy!? So I’d only have select people involved in the circle if that seems more useful.)
  • If there are a LOT of identical roles, how do we hear people well? Example: a call center with 200 people in 3 shifts in all same roles.
    (There are a bunch of strategies I’m aware of to take the edge off but it remains problematic IMHO. For example, a client org told me they made a system to trade people in over time so more people could give input in the circle.)
  • Do we need to define a role for every operation?
    (I don’t think we do because that’s what, in my opinions, can make Holacracy bureaucratic. At least for sociocracy, I enjoy having the option of having “circle member” be enough of a role to bundle some operations onto a person in a more fluid way. Not everything needs a role description, it can also “just” be done. Example: two people become proofreaders for certain incoming documents, they coordinate with each other in a role they both fill equally. That can work.

Please tell me what direction you were thinking in. Do you agree? Disagree? Say more?

I need a definition of “Holocracy” please?

It’s a system that combined sociocracy with other things and it’s mostly used in the business world.

Thank you, Ted! I especially appreciate the ‘cautions’ you share here re getting overly bureaucratic or rigid on these structures. I am not sure this fully addresses our situation, because the examples you share here seem to be role redundancies in a similar ‘domain’ - but in our case, i think we’d define each of our regional teams as their own domains, and w/in each one, we see people holding similar roles (in this case - each region has one executive director, they play very similar ‘roles’ in their individual domains.) Does this make sense? what does this make you think? Appreciate you!

Oh… that’s a whole other topic :slight_smile:

In a way, regional director for region A is a different role than regional director for region B. Of course, it’s often just copy and paste. And that can create its own issues. But I’d always consider them all unique because otherwise, you rule into circles which clashes with my value of sovereignty of circles and their roles.

So the real question is, how do regional circles that are all similar correspond to each other, including their roles? For regional copy/paste situations of roles and structures, it really depends on how you want to set it up.
I wrote a thing on that topic - it’s still fresh and new and not as smooth as the things I’ve talked about a hundred times so I apologize for the rawness of the article. It’s a complex topic - wanna see if you can make sense of it?

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