Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter by Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson is a book which places business within the overall ecosystem of the biosphere. Holonomics is a combination of ‘holos’ (the whole) and economics. The authors highlight the limitations and traps within the current ways of thinking in business.
The book is divided into three parts:
- Part One introduces the phenomenological way of encountering wholeness in systems, which is a dynamic way of seeing. Experiencing the coming-into-being of phenomena makes it possible to reach a deeper understanding of the world. The authors call this holonomic thinking. Holonomic thinking doesn’t replace mechanistic thinking, which focuses on objects, or systems thinking, where the dynamic coming-into-being often is lost, but expands our thinking.
- Part Two covers systems theory and complexity science. One of the key insights from Part Two is how the dynamic way of seeing transforms the observer from within through the genuine encounter with the phenomena that are studied. Holonomic thinking enables a person to reach a deeper understanding of the world where business is no longer seen as separate from people and nature.
- Part Three presents a number of case studies of holonomic thinking as applied to business. Holonomic thinking is relevant to businesses since they are living systems. Among the examples mentioned are: Visa Inc.’s Chaordic Organization, where governance and power is distributed; Kyocera’s Amoeba Management System, which is based on self-managed and self-coordinated cells; Gore Associates’ Lattice Organization, where teams emerge naturally around perceived opportunities; Toyota’s Production System, in which the information that directs operations is the work itself; and DPaschoal’s Business Ecosystem, where all parts belong together and sustain each other.
A key insight from the book is that our thinking is an intimate part of our seeing, and vice versa. This means that entering into a new way of seeing expands our thinking. This book is important since it invites us into a new way of seeing which greatly expands our world view. This is much needed since people and planet matter. I warmly recommend the book!