Delegate Circles

Delegate Circles are here for governance decisions affecting multiple domains. The decisions are done through representatives selected by the teams which are accountable for those Domains.

Delegate Circles are a crucial part of our organizational structure, as this is where governance decisions are made that go beyond the responsibilities of a team.

Active participation is mandatory for the delegates of all teams. Not participating would mean leaving your team out of Decision Making process. This would ultimately lead to decisions being made that could harm your team.

Delegate Circles aren’t to be confused with Interest Groups, which have the concept of voluntary participation.
The following are the delegate circles that currently exist in our company

Name

Members

Accountable for

VSHNeers

1 delegate and 1 stand-in per team
1 delegate from the Management

VSHNeer Success

Products

1 delegate and 1 stand-in per team
1 delegate from the Management

Product Development
Product Management

Solutions

1 delegate and 1 stand-in per team
1 delegate from the Management
all Service Managers

Customer Solutions
Assignment of new customers to Solution Teams

There are also Special Circles which don’t follow the concept of Teams or Delegate Circles.

Duties

Delegate Circles learn and define how they deal with the general duties to address the topics within the domains for which they’re accountable:

  • Handle VIPs that the Delegate Circle is accountable for.

    • New VIPs

    • Review of VIPs

  • Handle discussions and find out what the next step will be (for example create a VIP).

  • Make decisions transparently visible company wide.

  • Create accountability by coordinating and assign operational work to members (and teams) so that agreements are actually implemented.

  • Announce decisions via the correct channels to the VSHNeers affected.

  • Plan and ensure efficient communication and collaboration between all members:

    • in the asynchronous ways, for example chat

    • via (recurring) meetings

  • Ensure the Link to Management via a delegate:

    • Reporting of ongoing and done governance in the weekly management meeting.

    • Remind to get involved in decision making, especially on major organizational topics that carry a foreseeable (financial) risk of harming the company.

Some Delegate Circles might have additional duties, defined in domain descriptions they’re accountable for.

From Discussions to making Governance

A Delegate Circle has many members who are obligated to participate actively. This in mind, discussions in meetings or in the official chat channel would cause a high burden on all members and would not serve the actual purpose of making decisions.

There is a thin line between discussions and making decisions: Decisions without discussions are hardly possible, discussions without decisions (action points) are usually ineffective.

So we need a way to find out if something needs to be discussed in the big round or if a smaller group of people should discuss the topic at hand first and then present a concrete proposal to the big round to reach consent.

Individual VSHNeers might directly propose something regarding smaller topics. The Delegate Circle might be able to make a good decision on this, but usually it makes more sense to use a more transparent way like VSHN Improvement Proposals or Product Bets.

Spontaneous Working Groups

Instead of having discussions in the big round (chat or meetings), propose your topic in the chat and invite a limited number of people to address the issue. This group is committed to identifying what the next steps are. When they’re unsure they will ask concrete questions in the big round, such as Do you have objections if we continue like this? (giving enough time for people to respond).

Interest Groups

In the Delegate Circles there are usually some larger, ongoing topics. Here it makes sense that we’ve a permanent or semi-permanent Interest Group that invites people from the Delegate Circle and also considers external members to bring in a different perspective and expertise.

Examples
  • Recruiting Interest Group in VSHNeers Delegate Circle - Prepares list of open positions, proposes job ads, etc. the Delegate Circle can decide on.

  • Product Management Interest Group in Products Delegate Circles - Prepares Product Bets so that the Delegate Circle can make decisions on them and their priority.

Making Decisions

Working Groups and Interest Groups should produce concrete proposals in various forms that enable the Delegate Circle to make informed decisions using our Consent Decision Making Process or more specifically the VSHN Improvement Process. Such a proposal can also be one simple and concrete questions in the chat, so that a direct operational action can be done or planned.

Requesting decisions can happen in various ways
  • Simple, concrete questions in chat that members can object against directly in the chat thread.

  • Present a VIP in the Decisions Making status in the chat.

  • Present any other form of proposal in the chat or an official Delegate Circle meeting.

Handling VSHN Improvement Proposals

Delegate Circles have to handle VIPs they’re accountable for according to How to handle VIPs. Every Delegate Circle can organize this themselves as long as VIPs are handled and it’s documented, for example:

  • Make it part of recurring meetings.

  • Have a group that handles VIPs

  • Have a person that has this duty

Governance versus Operations

Delegate Circles are there to make Governance and not to do actual work (Operations). See Governance and Operations.

Members of the Delegate Circle shouldn’t have work to do for the circle, besides preparing for meetings, reading and commenting on VIPs and being Tuners for VIPs.

The actual work that usually follows governance decisions happens in the individual Teams or Interest Groups. Delegate Circles therefore never have tasks and therefore no operations backlog.