Objection Criteria & Strategy Reviews

Along with a few other folks in the UC “Management” crew, I spent Monday and Tuesday learning about Holacracy. It’s an extraordinarily complex an interesting organizing idea that deserves a much longer set of posts, but the five-second version is that it’s a explicitly structured distributed-authority adaptive decision-making system that aims to foster bossless organizations.

One of the core principles is an idea called Integrated Decision Making (IDM) that helps organizations dynamically steer* by incorporating tensions into proposed actions so that they become workable. In IDM sessions, after a proposal has been made (itself designed to eliminate a tension sensed by an individual) participants are asked to voice objections to the proposal on the following grounds:

  1. This proposal will cause us immediate harm (prevent us from reaching our collective vision or move us backward)
  2. Data exist that suggest we should not take this action
  3. This proposal causes a new and immediate tension for the organization

In each case, the objector must clarify their objection along these lines. This method (and in particular these criteria) is genius and we all ought to be practicing it in our work.

Whether you’re a strategist, planner, creative or account-person, you’re going to run up against objections to your recommendations. Set guidelines at the beginning of the relationship for how objections are articulated and enforce those guidelines in as many meetings as possible. Put the rules in your deck. Clearly articulate your proposal and make its component parts approachably small. Work through the objections one-by one. Incorporate suggestions until the objections go away. Then…act!

*No steering committees, no steering once