Governance is the set of processes used by people in power to govern a group of people.
These processes can be explicit (like the laws of a country) or implicit (like "that's just the usual way we do things" at a company).
Governance processes define:
- how decisions are made,
- by whom they are made, and
- who will enforce those decisions.
That doesn't mean governance is limited to authoritarian regimes.
On the contrary, it is crucial that governance processes are explicit in self organized teams where authority is distributed.
The Need for Explicit Rules
Organizations that work with self-managed teams need written rules and expectations that everyone in the organization can easily access and understand.
Otherwise, things get very messy, very quickly.
Indeed, in hierarchical companies, we're used to asking our bosses what to do. In self-organized teams, however, there needs to be clarity on who can do what, when and how.
In the Holacracy framework, the constitution is what defines the rules and processes for the governance and operations of the organization that signs it. Indeed, the fact that Holacracy provides such a constitution with extensive rules and processes is part of the appeal of the framework because it gives clear rules to follow.
Although many organizations choose to adapt the Holacracy constitution to have a little bit more flexibility in how they work and suit the specific needs of their organizations, having this clear set of rules to start with can be extremely helpful.