Kategoriarkiv: Organization

Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård

Esbjörn Wandt skriver i Skogsträdgården på Holma att ”det finns intressanta paralleller mellan hur sociokrati och en skogsträdgård fungerar” eftersom båda bygger på självorganisation. I artikeln beskriver Esbjörn hur det levande bygger på ”ett samspel mellan självorganiserande enheter” och ”ett ständigt flöde av energi, materia och information”. På samma sätt påminner sociokrati om naturen med sina självstyrande grupper, som är kopplade till varandra ”i ett flödande växelspel med omgivningen”. Det handlar om att ge rätt förutsättningar — sedan sköter livet resten!

Relaterade inlägg:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

What if the organization is a living system?

Holacracy is described as a new operating system 1 for evolution-powered organizations. It’s a punchy analogy which people understand. What people seem to forget is this: The operating system as a metaphor requires people to execute the programming code, but people aren’t microprocessors. This might seem like playing with words, but metaphors both reflect and influence our thinking. There is always a cost in trying to script people’s behavior. They might decide to withdraw their engagement. What if the organization is a living system, and not a computer?

Notes (added 17 April 2016):
1 HolacracyOne’s web page where Holacracy is described as a new operating system no longer exists. However, a description of Holacracy as ”a comprehensive new operating system” can also be found in Brian Robertson’s book on Holacracy. See Brian Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy, (Penguin, 2015), p. 12.

Related posts:
Book review: Holacracy
Metaphors both reflect and influence our thinking
Language of rules & policies vs. agreements
Self-organization is the real operating system
Emergence is simply what life does
Empowerment is a red herring
Pre-conditions for self-organization
What if the organization is a living system?
Facilitating an Open Space
How to enable and sustain self-organization
TEDxTalk on Open Space Technology

Practices related to self-management

Self-managed organizations adapt continuously, fluidly, and organically provided a few basic practices are put in place. Frederic Laloux emphasizes the following three practice in Reinventing Organizations (pp. 270—271):

  1. Decision-making (by consent): Make sure that all can make any decision, as long as they seek advice from people affected and people who have expertise.
  2. Conflict resolution: Establish a conflict resolution mechanism that will help people work their way through conflicts.
  3. Peer-based evaluation: Be transparent with people’s salaries so that colleagues can react with advice to increase or lower the number.

Sociocracy explicitly addresses the decision-making and peer-based evaluation through its consent decision-making and performance review processes.

Citizen Hive’s tree organization

Citizen Hive's Tree Organization

Citizen Hive’s Tree Organization

Citizen Hive in Lund, Sweden, use a tree on their organization page to show where they are positioned in relation to the larger context of other organizations and society. Citizen Hive use Sociocracy and have a nice description of Sociocracy on their governance page. Thanks to Michael Göthe for providing the link.

Here and here are other tree shaped organizational structures.

Related posts:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Scaling sociocracy is all about the context
Unspoken sociocratic principles
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios

Related posts in Swedish:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

BPT’s tree organization structure

BPT Organization Structure

BPT Organization Structure

Here is Brighton Permaculture Trust’s tree shaped organization structure. The tree with its trunk and spreading branches is a down-to-earth way of representing an organization. It turns the traditional pyramid on its head. The trunk and branches are there to lift the leaves up into the sun where they can do their job most effectively. The fruit of the tree is also up in its branches, not in the trunk.

Here and here are other examples of tree organizations.

Related posts:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Scaling sociocracy is all about the context
Unspoken sociocratic principles
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios

Related posts in Swedish:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

Tree shaped circle organization

Sociocratic Circle Organization

Sociocratic Circle Organization

This is a Sociocratic circle organization which was created at the Sociocracy & the Art of Facilitation Training at Ängsbacka on March 22-24. The idea to draw the circle organization as a tree comes from Nova Wegerif, Ängsbacka.

Related posts:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Scaling sociocracy is all about the context
Unspoken sociocratic principles
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios

Related posts in Swedish:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som bygger på att nå enighet kring beslut
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

How to enable and sustain self-organization

Harrison Owen, the originator of Open Space Technology, lists eight steps for the care and feeding of self-organization systems in Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizing World. The number of steps can be fewer or more, depending on how one counts, but these are the eight essentials:

  1. Do Your Homework Before You Start. First consider where you want to go, why you want to go there, and what might happen along the way. Until there is some clarity about where you want to go, the likelihood of reaching there is small. But clarity of where you want to go is just one part. It must be complemented with caring. Why you want to go must have enough heart and meaning.
  2. Extend an Invitation. An real invitation is one that can be refused. This carries the risk that people might choose not to come, but it also assures that those who do come actually care to come. Again, clarity and caring are essential ingredients.
  3. Come to Circle. The circle is the geometry of free, open space, and rapid communication. Physical circles of people are rich and productive. In circle all people meet face-to-face with free, open space in between. This enables free, rapid communication. People need the maximum freedom to create their own pathways, together.
  4. Welcome Passion, Responsibility, and Authentic Leadership. This is really another way of saying, make sure the whole person is welcome. The real issue is diversity, the particular differences in each individual. When whole people are invited to come with their passions, they will assume personal responsibility. Genuine responsibility cannot be commanded. It will only appear voluntarily. If we invite passion and responsibility, authentic leadership will appear in abundance, which will provide focus and direction as needed. This has nothing to do with the appearance of The Leader. There will be many emergent leaders, each a nodal point for caring, if invited. This will continue as long as the invitation is renewed. Invitation, in short, is not done once.
  5. Remember the Four Principles. The principles are descriptive, not prescriptive. They don’t tell people what to do, but what will be happening. The principles are:
    Whoever Comes Are the Right People. When people who care about the same thing come together, there is a possibility that useful work will begin. The critical issue is not how many they are, but how much they care.
    Whatever Happens Is the Only Thing That Could Have. Don’t worry about what might, could, and even should, have happened. The past is over and the future hasn’t happened yet. All we have is now, and every little bit of conscious awareness and attention helps.
    Whenever It Starts Is the Right Time. Things start when they start. The sense of time and structure are emergent and internally generated. When external controls are enforced, performance will likely decline
    When It’s Over It’s Over. Everything has a beginning, middle, and an end. When the end comes it is best to acknowledge the fact and move on.
  6. Observe the Law of Two Feet. If, at any time, you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet and move on. This may sound prescriptive, but we all follow this law. We are no longer present, nor do we care to be present, when our interest dissipates. In short, the Law of Two Feet keeps our attention on what has heart and meaning for us, what we care about. To ensure focus and adaptability, use your feet.
  7. Keep Grief Working. Grief work transforms the pain of ending into the joy of a new beginning. We might wish to escape it, but there is no alternative. It will proceed with, or without, our assistance, but it can be facilitated. Facilitation is not primarily about doing something, although it can help, but simply about being a companion on a difficult journey. The grief cannot be avoided, it can only be passed through.
  8. Formalize the System. The need for the formal system is real, but is best met in moderation. Good maps are helpful if they reflect the territory. In no case will the maps create the territory. The key question is ”What is the minimal level of formal structures and procedures necessary to sustain system function?” And less is always best. In short, it is the system that drives the procedures, not the other way around. Ensuring the free flow of information is the single most important concern in formalizing the system, because effective communication is essential for the continued well-being of any self-organizing system.

Related posts:
Pre-conditions for self-organization
Self-organization is the real operating system
Emergence is simply what life does
Empowerment is a red herring
Pre-conditions for self-organization
What if the organization is a living system?
Facilitating an Open Space
How to enable and sustain self-organization
TEDxTalk on Open Space Technology

What is organization?

I don’t think we are working differently enough. The prevailing assumption is that organization is something we design, create and control. I think the world is fundamentally self-organizing. We don’t create it, and we certainly don’t control it, but we can live in it with greater joy and less effort. We can learn to enhance our ability for such living, and we can assist others to do the same. The first step is to open space for joy, passion, and initiative to emerge around an opportunity. If it’s exciting, people will join, and then the next thing you have is a group gathered around a shared purpose, engaged in essential conversation, and involved in meaningful action. What’s happening might die, or it may continue and grow. This is organization.

The upside of self-management

Gary Hamel provides suggestions on how unpack self-management in his new book What Matters Now. Why bother? Well, here is the upside of self-management from What Matters Now, pages 223-225:

  • More initiative – people do help each other if given the opportunity, initiative flourishes
  • More expertise – people do take responsibility for the quality of their work
  • More flexibility – people are freer to act in ways that fit best with circumstances
  • More collegiality – people don’t need to kiss backsides when there is no pyramid
  • More judgment – people do make timely and apposite decisions if allowed to
  • More loyalty – people don’t need to move elsewhere when given the chance to grow
  • Less overhead – there is no need of managers telling people what to do

Unpacking self-management

In a previous post I asked (in Swedish) whether management is needed? My answer is yes, self-management, or as I would rather put it, self-organizing. The follow-up question then is how do you enable self-management? Gary Hamel has a number of suggestions in his book What Matters Now, pp. 212—217:

  • Make the mission boss
  • Let employees forge their own agreements
  • Empower everyone – really!
  • Don’t force people into slots
  • Encourage competition for impact, not promotion

Creative forces of self-organization

After reading We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy by John Buck and Sharon Villines, I have become very interested in sociocracy, a.k.a. dynamic governance. Gerard Endenburg, who started pioneering and applying dynamic governance, has recently written an interesting article about the Creative Forces of Self-Organization together with John Buck. In this article, they discuss the principles and some of the methods of sociocracy in detail. Below are a few quotes from the article:

…the self-organizing process spurs creative thinking and catalyzes new structures and ideas.

…to be self-organizing, a system must meet two conditions. First, the components of any self-organizing system must be equivalent, that is, not controlling each other. … Second, to be self-organizing, a system must have an external source of energy.

The three defining elements of dynamic governance [consent, circles, and double linking] create the conditions needed for self-organization to occur.

Only a dynamic governance structure, that is, one in which all the members are fundamentally equal, fundamentally not trapped in a boss-servant relationship, supports the natural phenomenon of self-organization.

Dynamic governance has considerable unexplored potential for many areas of human endeavor.

Crucial ingredients for collective action

Petra Kuenkel writes on her blog that: ”Innovative approaches and new solutions often derive from people’s ability to dialogue and partner for the future. The quality of how we do this matters. People implement what they have helped to create.” She lists the following ingredients for successful collective action:

  1. Understand the system
  2. Create resonance
  3. Prepare for the common ground
  4. Build a strong ”container”
  5. Get the stakeholder system into a conversation with itself
  6. Get the system into the room
  7. Develop a diagnose of the current reality together
  8. Allow differences to emerge, but in a structured way
  9. Design a structured integration process
  10. Create task orientation
  11. Bring in expertise as needed

The living organization

I have raised the view in a previous blog post that an organization is more like an organism than a machine. Now, I’m reading The Living Company: Growth Learning and Longevity in Business by Arie de Geus. The question at the heart of the book is:

What if we think about a company as a living being?

The contrast between viewing the company as a machine (for making money) versus a living being leads us to examine our core assumptions about management. How can we create an organizational environment which releases (rather than stifles) human potential, creativity, and energy?

The chaordic organization

Dee Hock, founder of VISA, coined the word chaordic to describe an organization that finds the balance where chaos and order meet to ensure it thrives under the demands of the dynamic business context.

Key aspects of the chaordic organization are:

  1. Crystal clarity on the highest need the organization is choosing to serve.
  2. The purpose of our organization, i.e. what you do to serve that need.
  3. The principles governing how individuals interact with each other.
  4. Strong culture and diverse people aligned through values and a sense of purpose

Applying chaordic principles can help an organization adapt rapidly, learn by doing, and deal with complexity similarly to a natural ecosystem:

  • Everything is self-organized, an all levels.
  • Focus is on what works well enough to take the next step.
  • Whoever is best able to fulfil a role at a point in time does so.
  • No-one knows what every part is doing.
  • Everyone knows what their specific purpose is.
  • Everyone is fully empowered to do act.

See also: Chaos and order in business?

Scaling Agile @ Spotify

Henrik Kniberg and Anders Ivarsson have written an interesting paper on Scaling Agile @ Spotify with Tribes, Squads, Chapters & Guilds. The organizational setup of the teams is very interesting. Since I’m currently reading We the People by John Buck and Sharon Villines on dynamic self-governance, I’m wondering if the structure of Chapters & Guilds could have been replaced by a doubly linked circle organization instead? It’s just a thought for the time being. I’m not sure what the pros and cons would have been? Instinctively, I don’t like matrix organizations. It adds an extra dimension of complication which I think should be avoided. Double linking seems to be a more straightforward approach. But again, I don’t really know (yet).