Our business runs on a customised operating system inspired by Holacracy’s governance meetings system. We've adapted this to serve ongoing decision making and communication at work, not just the governance structure of Hanno.
The key thing to remember is that this system is not intended to be democratic or consensus-based. As long as you’re following the Advisory Process, any idea which is ‘safe to try’ can’t be blocked by the team. People can’t block your idea because they don’t like the sound of it, or think they have a better one. This means we will make mistakes and mis-steps, but we’ll learn more, move faster, and hopefully be less vulnerable to group-think.
This is not a ‘final’ set of AP rules. Our system has bugs and issues to overcome. But we'll deal with those as they come up and use our common sense at each point too.
Remember, the Advisory Process is what gives you the authority to do something. If you don’t follow it, you have no authority to take that action.
The 6 steps: how it works
If a shipmate has an idea or wants to get something done...
1. They must write a proposal.
In this, you should outline the following things. The more significant your action is, the more thorough the proposal must be. Use your judgement.
- What you want to do--what’s involved, and what are the costs (if any: time and financial).
- Why you want to do it. What the benefits are.
- What the potential downsides or risks might be.
2. The proposer notifies relevant shipmates
The more significant your decision (higher costs, or potential effects), the greater your obligation is to make sure people are aware of it and have a chance to give their opinion:
- Most APs will be posted on a new thread on Loomio - this is a quick and effective way to track voting.
- If it's a very quick and simple item that you just want to make people aware of, a message in Asana can be sufficient. Please don't create APs in Slack: it doesn't create much of a 'paper trail'.
3. Shipmates can respond
- If they agree right away, they can post to confirm that
- Any interested shipmate can ask the proposer to give more detail or clarifications.
- Any interested shipmate can give a reaction or feedback (of any sort).
4. The proposer can give a response or modify their proposal
- If they like some of the advice given, or feel that some of the feedback needs to be addressed, they have the option of modifying their proposal. The previous proposal can be Closed in Loomio and another proposal added to the thread.
- But they are not forced to do this if they disagree with the advice. They are also not obliged to battle through every shipmate providing advice.
5. Shipmates can raise objections to the proposal
- Shipmates can block a proposal if they believe it would cause irreparable harm, or move Hanno backwards. Particularly if it would be difficult to revert this action and cure the harm caused.
- They cannot block a proposal just because they don’t like it, or because they think they have a better idea.
6. The proposer must integrate any valid objections. If they cannot, the proposal will be blocked.
A valid objection can’t be ignored--it must be resolved and integrated. This means that communication will be critical. The proposer and the objector will try to overcome the objection and find a solution. If they can achieve this and agree that the objection has been overcome, then the proposal will pass.
If they cannot come to an agreement as to a solution, the proposal won’t be allowed to pass.
Note: Retrospective APs are almost always not permitted
There is a strong presumption that an AP needs to be agreed in advance of you taking the action. If it's possible for us for people to 'do first and ask permission later', we remove the important 'peer review' part of the AP process where your teammates give feedback on an action.
So when thinking about APs, keep in mind that if the AP is for something you've done already, such as an item you've purchased or a retrospective salary increase you might like to make, it's very unlikely to be accepted by the team.