Politicking, corruption, self-centeredness. All things that we feel a certain aversion and we want to see away from the company that we are part of. Still, people are complex. Different relationships are formed over time, which act as "shortcut" paths to existing organizational structures. The drawing below illustrates this well:
Brian Robertson, creator of Holacracia, believes that this is strongly influenced by the fact that companies do not have "channels" effective enough to deal with the problems that arise. So they create these “alternative routes”.
I think this is a good explanation, but I add one more thing: people have unique needs, which need to be recognized and met. And the Holacracia Tactical and Governance Meeting does not handle them.
Two important spaces
In order to advance in the importance of the way of caring and because it is necessary, we need to know two spaces that are always present in all organizations: the organizational and the tribal space.
The organizational space concerns the organization, its purpose and the relationships between the different existing roles. All the O2 organizational structure (roles, circles and restrictions) enter here.
The tribal space corresponds to the people who are part of the organization and the relationships between them.
Both spaces are volatile and evolve over time. People come and go. Circles and papers too. The purpose of the organization in general acts as a magnet, which connects and brings the two spaces together.
At O2, we seek to govern the organization according to its purpose. We understand that people are important, but making their needs sovereign for the purpose of the organization would kill the latter. Therefore, this care in separating things.
Still, this does not mean that individual needs must be ignored. And that is why O2 has a way of taking care.
The caring way
Looking at the description of how to care, we will see that it is the simplest and least prescriptive of all.
The objective of this way is to take care of the tribal space and nourish the quality of the relations between the members of a circle. The format is open for the facilitator to decide how to use.
This space should not be used to make changes to the structure of the circle or to request projects and actions from other members of the circle.
In general, caring is generally a space for free conversation. There are no roles other than the facilitator (who may even abandon the role eventually). It is a place where the conversation flows between the individuals present, not the organizational roles they play.
Following are two examples of practices that can be used in this mode.
Mirrored speech (“light forum”)
In mirrored speech, everyone sits in a circle, with a special empty chair. The facilitator then introduces the exercise, explaining the purpose, rules and operation:
- This is an exercise to develop empathy and understanding.
- You are only allowed to speak if you are sitting in the special chair.
- After sitting in the chair, you can describe a relevant situation that you experienced and that is related to the group or someone present. This can include discomfort or unmet personal need. It may also be bringing a request or strategy suggestion to meet a personal need.
- Everyone should listen carefully, without asking questions or offering opinions.
- When the person finishes his speech, he goes back to his original chair.
- The facilitator then asks the person: Would you like someone to mirror your speech? If she answers yes, then he asks the group: Would anyone like to mirror the guy's speech?
- If someone wants to mirror the speech, that person sits in the special chair and repeats what he heard, in his words. It is not allowed to add interpretations or judgments about what the “mirror” said, just to paraphrase and recount what was said.
- After finishing, the facilitator returns to the original person and asks: Were you well understood? If the person says no, he can go back to the special chair and clarify what he thinks is not understood.
- The process is repeated until there are no more “mirrors” or corrections. After that, a new person goes to the special chair and tells a new relevant story.
This is a very powerful exercise for developing empathy in a group. It makes perfect sense to care.
A simpler and more direct way of conducting care is as follows.
- The facilitator begins by asking the group: Is there anything that needs to be taken care of in the relationship between the people present here?
- If someone manifests, the person goes further explaining what the issue is and what he needs. The facilitator can use CNV techniques and help the speaker to better express their feelings and needs.
- Other people in the group participate freely, always with a focus on helping those who are raising the issue.
- If no one speaks, the facilitator may ask: Is there anything you want to talk about?
- The process is then repeated until time runs out or there are no more issues to deal with.
The practices generally proposed in the way of caring have an enormous potential to encourage people to become more vulnerable. This is positive, especially thinking that deeper and higher quality relationships are important for quality work.
Even so, it is important to be careful that the way of caring does not become something “mandatory”. Forcing people to participate and become vulnerable can be disastrous. One way to mitigate this, is to always state at the beginning how the exercises have optional participation and whoever is not willing can checkout and leave the meeting.
Take care of all spaces
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that reviewing, synchronizing and adapting is enough. Often they are not. Bringing free speech space can be valuable for people, especially for those who have difficulty with the rigidity of other modes. Take care of both the organization and the people.
Originally written by Davi Gabriel da Silva and published ON HERE