Kategoriarkiv: Thinking

Organizing retrospective 41

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective. Here is my next retrospective.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
This week, I’ve started writing poems – in English! I never thought it would happen since my native language is Swedish. Anyway, here is my first poem, and here is the second one. They are about pain, melancholy, and sadness. But also about love, connection, and life.

I’m currently working on my review of Artful Leadership by Michael Jones. I love the book! There are gems on almost every page.

I’ve also started reading a new book coming on Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space & Sociocracy by Jutta Eckstein and John Buck.1 It’s an interesting read and enjoyable read. I fully agree with the authors that the ”collision of values may be the biggest factor inhibiting companies ability to cope with our rapidly changing world.”2 My personal view is that the ”collision of values” goes very deep indeed. And I don’t think the authors go deep enough into this at the moment, but the book is only 50% complete. There’s also a collision of assumptions. I think it’s important to make a clear distinction between machines and organisms. The notion of ”living machines” is an oxymoron.3 Treating an organism as a machine is, well, deadening. Mechanistic thinking is ubiquitous. While Open Space emphasizes self-organization, Sociocracy really focuses on self-regulation.

  • Before Philosophy: The Intellectual Adventure Of Ancient Man by Henri Frankfort, H. A. Frankfort, J. A. Wilson, and T. Jacobsen.
  • The Future of Humanity: A Conversation by Jiddu Krishnamurti and David Bohm.
  • Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness by Mary Reinolds Thompson.

What was good? What can be improved?
Writing my first poem. I’ve also started drawing. I need to consciously nourish my creativity.

1 Jutta Eckstein and John Buck, Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space & Sociocracy: Survive and Thrive Disruption (Leanpub). The book is 50% complete, (accessed 13 May 2017).
2 Ibid., p. 8.
3 Ibid., p. 6.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 30

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective. Here is my next retrospective.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
My conversations with Skye Hirst has continued this week. I share Skye’s view that we need to shift from a rigid mechanistic to a more dynamic organismic worldview. I also believe that Robert Hartman’s value logic (axiology) supports this new emerging paradigm. Hartman was born in Germany in 1910. Seeing the Nazis ”organize evil,” he fled Nazi Germany for his opposition to Hitler, and devoted the rest of his life to ”organize good.” This led him to a life-long quest to define ”what is good?” and how to apply goodness both in our individual lives and on a broader scale. Hartman formulated a definition of good as fulfillment of the intension of a concept.1 There are three fundamental types of value – intrinsic, extrinsic, and systemic. There’s also a hierarchy of value where the intrinsically good is richer in value – and thus has more worth – than the extrinsically good, which in turn, is richer in value than the systemically good Looking at Hartman’s definitions I get the impression the systemic value dimension is a more explicate order of value, while with the intrinsic dimension lies deeper and thus is more implicate, with the extrinsic dimension lies somewhere in between.

Several new books arrived this week – The Art of Leading Collectively: Co-Creating a Sustainable, Socially Just Future by Petra Kuenkel, Process and Reality by Alfred North Whitehead, and A Force More Powerful: A Century of Non-violent Conflict by Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall – but I started to re-read another book which I already have – EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution by Elisabet Sahtouris. This is a book which I read in April 2013. I love the book and will write a book review.

I see connections between Elisabet Sahtouris’ book and the papers Skye Hirst sent two weeks ago. Living organisms are autopoietic and autonomous, while mechanisms are allopoietic and allonomous.2 The balance between any holon’s autonomy and holonomy must be worked out as mutual consistency if the holon is to survive as part of a holarchy. The concepts of embeddedness or holarchy, and of the autonomy at every level of holarchy, tempered by holonomy, are important to understanding how life itself works.3 Here are Elisabet Sahtouris’ principles of healthy living systems.

I suspect that the aspects of nature which we cannot measure, and cannot abstract. may be the most essential aspects there are. This has consequences for the logic of life. Traditional reasoning is based on dividing up the world. Mathematics itself is a perfected man-made language. The world of algorithms, nowadays embodied in software, is a very small world, a world of machines.4 A mathematics of life has to be less mechanical, more flexible, more like living nature. I wonder if such a mathematics is possible?

What was good? What can be improved?
The coaching sessions with Skye Hirst (based on the Hartman Value Inventory) have been very helpful to me. This stone reminds me of what I’ve learned so far and need to practice on.

1 Robert Hartman, The Structure of Value (1967), pp. 101–106.
2 Elisabet Sahtouris, Earthdance: Living Systems in Evolution (iUniversity Press, 2000), p. 247.
3 Ibid., p. 52.
4 Robert Rosen, Essays on Life Itself, p. 99.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Exploring forward-thinking workplaces

Bill Fox (@BillFoxStrategy) explores forward-thinking ways to work differently in a world of constant whitewater. Here is his and Container13‘s interview series on forward-thinking workplaces where he addresses the following questions:

  • How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives & finds meaning, and change & innovation happen naturally?
  • What does it take to get an employee’s full attention and best performance?
  • What do people really lack and long for at work?
  • What is the most important question management should be asking employees?
  • What’s the most important question employees should be asking management?
  • What is the most important question we can ask ourselves?

Analysis of Sociocracy and Holacracy

This post is part of my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to explore the history and key assumptions of Sociocracy and Holacracy®. The post is based on my previous posts about Sociocracy and Holacracy. The analysis is summarized here.

I first heard about Sociocracy and Holacracy in 2012. Both attracted my interest and I wrote an enthusiastic book review of We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy by John Buck and Sharon Villines in November 2012. I subsequently participated in several Sociocracy workshops with James Priest, got training in facilitating Sociocracy by The Sociocracy Consulting Group, and wrote an ebook on Sociocracy (in Swedish), Sociokrati: En metod för självstyre, together with John Schinnerer.

Sociocracy is a governance method based on consent decision-making and cybernetic principles, which was developed by Gerard Endenburg during the 1960s and 1970s. Endenburg published his first book on Sociocracy in 1981.1 The early development of Holacracy was influenced by sociocracy. Brian Robertson filed a patent application on Holacracy in June 2007 (Pub. No. US 2009/0006113 A1), where sociocracy, in my view, is prior art. The patent application was subsequently abandoned. The first Holacracy Constitution was launched in 2009. Robertson’s book on Holacracy was published in 2015.2

Gerard Endenburg’s objective with Sociocracy is to enable everyone to develop as far as possible,3 while Brian Robertson wants to harness the tremendous sensing power of the human consciousness available to our organizations.4

Endenburg and Robertson have very different views on organizations and their purposes. Endenburg thinks that organizations exists for the people,5 while Robertson views the organizations as separate entities that have their own purposes beyond just serving people.6 Endenburg emphasizes the importance of each person’s equivalence in the decision-making and the potential for existence and development,7 while Robertson views people as role fillers8 and differentiates between role and soul.9 Robertson’s favorite metaphor to illustrate dynamic steering and constant weaving is riding a bicycle.10 Endenburg uses the same metaphor to illustrate weaving and the circle process.11 Both use nested circles which are linked via two separate roles.12,13 In short, both use the same basic rules, or principles.

Endenburg and Robertson use very different languages. Robertson’s book is very readable, while Endenburg’s book is difficult to read. Endenburg admits that he may sound rather cold and formal, but thinks it’s necessary.? Robertson, on the other hand, uses words creatively, and gives them his own slant. He calls, for example, the organizational structure of nested circles a holarchy,14 a term coined by Arthur Koestler. Robertson also claims that Holacracy abolishes hierarchy, while a holarchy, according to Koestler, is a hierarchy.15

Sociocracy and Holacracy are based on specific assumptions applicable to mechanical and electrical systems. Endenburg uses two examples to illustrate the feedback control loop, or circle process, in cybernetics. The first example is, as already mentioned, riding a bicycle.16 The second metaphor is a central heating system.17 Endenburg acknowledges that the operating limits in riding a bicycle are different from those within a heating system, but he still thinks that they indicate constraints within which control may be exercised.18 Endenburg is aware that riding a bicycle is far more complex in reality than his simple example might suggest.19 He also acknowledges that people are not system components,20 but he doesn’t distinguish between machines and organisms in his reasoning.21 Neither does Robertson, who views people as sensors for the organization.22 But people are not machines (or sensors). Machines and organisms ARE different.

Holacracy prioritizes the systemic value of thought by keeping intrinsic human values out of the organizational space. Robert Hartman showed how values can be measured systemically, extrinsically, and intrinsically.23 For example, systemically a worker is a production unit, extrinsically one of several workers, and intrinsically a human being. In Holacracy, systemically an individual is a role and sensor, extrinsically one of several roles and sensors, and intrinsically a human being. The whole point of Holacracy is to allow an organization to better express its purpose.24 Every individual becomes a sensor for that purpose.25 Holacracy is focused on the organization and its purpose—not on people and their needs.26 The focus is only on what’s needed for the organization.27 Holacracy installs a system in which there’s no longer a need to lean on individual’s connections and relationships.28 Holacracy keeps human values out of the organizational space. 29 According to Robert Hartman, there is a tremendous gap between those who think in terms of human values and those who think in terms of non-human systems.30 Elevating systemic values OVER intrinsic human values is dehumanizing. Hartman goes a step further and says that ignoring life’s intrinsic value is the danger that threatens life itself.31

The operating limit on Sociocracy and Holacracy is that people are ”autonomic”.32

1 Gerard Endenburg’s first book on Sociocracy was originally published in Dutch in 1981. The first English translation was published in 1988. The Eburon edition was published in 1998. See Gerard Endenburg, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making (Eburon, 1998).
2 Holacracy is registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office. Brian Robertson’s book on Holacracy was published in 2015. See Brian J. Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy (Penguin, 2015).
3 Endenburg, Sociocracy, p. 5.
4 Robertson, Holacracy, p. 7.
5 Endenburg, Sociocracy, p. 142.
6 Robertson, Holacracy, p. 148.
7 Endenburg, Sociocracy, p. 167.
8 Robertson, Holacracy, p. 92.
9 Ibid., pp. 42–46.
10 Ibid., p. 129.
11 Endenburg, Sociocracy, pp. 16–19.
12 Ibid., pp. 10–11, 26–27.
13 Robertson, Holacracy, pp. 46–56.
14 Ibid., p. 38.
15 Arthur Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine (Last Century Media, 1982, first published 1967), p. 48.
16 Endenburg, Sociocracy, pp. 16—19, 23, 33—37, 223—224.
17 Ibid., pp. 19—23, 30, 36, 40.
18 Ibid., pp. 23, 30.
19 Ibid., p. 16.
20 Ibid., p. 39.
21 Ibid..
22 Robertson, Holacracy, pp. 4, 166, 198.
23 Robert Hartman, Freedom to Live: The Robert Hartman Story, p. 67.
25 Robertson, Holacracy, p. 34.
26 Ibid., p. 166.
27 Ibid., p. 198.
28 Ibid., p. 199.
29 Ibid., p. 200.
24 Ibid., p. 202.
30 Robert Hartman, Freedom to Live: The Robert Hartman Story, p. 124.
31 Ibid..
32 There is a distinction between being ”autonomic”, obeying self-law, and ”allonomic”, obeying some other’s law. See Norm Hirst, Research findings to date, Autognomics Institute, (accessed 4 August 2016)

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts
Book Review: Sociocracy
Book Review: Holacracy
Book Review: Freedom to Live
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Is sociocracy agile?

The goal of strategy

The following is from Dan Gray’s blog post about Stephen Bungay’s book The Art of Action: How Leaders Close the Gaps between Plans, Actions and Results. Stephen Bungay is a military historian who has examined the nineteenth-century Prussian army. There are some unexpected strategy lessons here. At least for me.

The goal of strategy, according to Stephen Bungay, is to reduce three gaps — those of

  1. knowledge (what we would know in an ideal world vs. what we actually know),
  2. alignment (what we would like people to do vs. what they actually do), and
  3. effects (what we expect our actions to achieve vs. what they actually achieve).

Ultimately, this boils down to:

  1. Deciding what really matters. You can’t create perfect plans, so don’t even try. Formulate strategy as an intent rather than a plan.
  2. Granting people autonomy to act. Recognize the distinction between intent (what we want to achieve and why) and action (what to do about it and how). The more alignment you have around intent, the more autonomy can be granted around action.
  3. Giving people space and support. Don’t try to predict the effects your actions will have, because you can’t. Your actions are subject to the independent wills of multiple agents. Encourage people to observe what is actually happening and adapt their actions accordingly to realize the overall intent.

All this might seem obvious, but is nevertheless worth emphasizing.

Related posts:
Book Review: The Art of Action
Principles for collaborative leadership

Book Review: Holonomics

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!

Related link:
Simon Robinson’s blog posts about Holonomics at Transition Consciousness