Why relational agreements?

At Luscii we want an evolutionary culture with clear behaviours that people can expect from each other; much in the same way as Holacracy does for the organization, but then for us as people. Previously, culture was decided and guarded by a very small group of people. We want everyone to be involved with shaping and guarding the culture. We want to allow for individual or team differences in our culture. And we want to keep improving the culture to ever increasing clarity in service of us as people energizing our roles in Luscii.

What are relational agreements?

Relational agreements describe expected behaviour between two or more people that help us to work together in the best way possible. They are like holacracy policies but then for the people. They help clarify what's expected from each person. For instance, if you accept a meeting invitation but can't make it, you should let the others know at least a day in advance. This kind of agreement can be proposed and added to a database. These agreements are all about common sense and being considerate of others. They help us avoid misunderstandings, keep communication smooth, and build trust among Lusciians.

Relational agreements should only be made when there's a tension or issue that needs resolving. If things are going smoothly without a specific agreement, there's no need to force one. It's like that saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

How does it work?

If you have a tension or problem, you can propose an agreement to address it. Remember, these agreements are about people, not their roles, and they focus on specific behaviors, not abstract ideas.

For example:

❌ I agree to always be nice

The problem with asking someone to adhere to a principle like "be nice" is that it doesn't provide the clarity needed to fulfil the agreement. How would you know if someone was being nice? What observable behaviour would indicate this? Therefore, when writing a proposal, try to be specific:

✅ I agree that when someone points out behaviour that is not in line with an agreement I have made, I will thank that person for pointing it out and will try to adjust my behaviour accordingly.

Of course, defining a concrete behaviour may not be easy, but that is the point. Doing the hard work of clarifying now improves the chances of making things better in the future. Also, remember that if you don't need an explicit agreement with someone, don't pursue one artificially.

Everyone within Luscii can agree or not agree with the proposal. If you have agreed to an relational agreement, you can hold each other accountable for following the agreement. Those who did not agree aren't expected to comply with it. If an agreement is super important and should be mandatory for everyone, you can request to add it to the handbook by asking the Handbook Author role.

When you do not agree, it doesn't necessarily mean that you will do the opposite. It simply means that you don't agree with some or all parts of the agreement, or that some parts are not applicable to you. For example, if the agreement states that you cannot contact a person while they are on holiday, and you don't mind being contacted during your own vacation, you can not agree with the statement. It doesn't mean that you cannot respect other people's preferences, but it does mean that others can contact you when they need to while you are on holiday. Similarly, if the agreement states that "you will always be on time for a meeting," and you don't mind if someone is a bit late, you can still not agree with the agreement. It doesn't mean that you will always be late to a meeting, it just means that for instance you don't mind if someone else is running a little behind.

Some people may feel anxious about not agreeing with a relational agreement. However, relational agreements don't require everyone to agree on every statement, like a "poldermodel". Instead, they aim to clarify what we can and cannot expect from each other. These expectations already exist, but might have gone unsaid. Unclear or unspoken expectations can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts, while clear expectations promote healthy relationships, effective teamwork, and a positive work environment.

Relational agreements don't force us to fit into the same mold; they encourage us to be ourselves. Our value of "courage for integrity" means valuing honesty over conformity. It's about having the courage to speak up about what matters to you and embracing diversity in personalities, backgrounds, and beliefs. When someone disagrees, we should welcome it and be happy that everyone feels comfortable expressing their opinions.

Creating a proposal

Follow these three steps to create a relational agreement.

Step 1: Proposing an agreement

To create a relational agreement, propose it through the Relational Agreements Keeper role in the ‣. The Relational Agreements Keeper will help you formulate the proposal in simple terms. Also, mention the tensio that the proposal is addressing.