Kategoriarkiv: Workplaces

Patterns related to work

This is a post in my organizing ”between and beyond” series. Other posts are here.

The following are patterns related to work in Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language:

  • Scattered Work: The artificial separation of houses and work creates intolerable rifts in people’s inner lives. This separation reinforces the idea that work is a toil.
    Therefore, prohibit large concentrations or work without family life around them, and prohibit large concentrations of family life, without workplaces around them.1
  • Work Community: If you spend eight hours of your day at work, and eight hours at home, there is no reason why your workplace should be any less of a community than your home. People believe they are less alive when they are working than when they are at home. Why shall we not create a world in which our work is as much part of life, as much alive, as anything we do at home with our family and friends?
    Therefore, build or encourage the formation of work communities. The total work community should have no more than 10 or 20 workplaces in it.2
  • Self-Governing Workshops and Offices: No one enjoys his work if he is a cog in a machine. A person enjoys the work when he or she understands the whole and is responsible for the quality of the whole. Work is a form of living, with its own intrinsic rewards. Any way of organizing which treats work instrumentally, as a means only to other ends, is inhuman. People cannot find satisfaction in work unless it is performed at a human scale and in a setting where they have a say. We believe that small self-governing groups are not only more efficient, but also the only possible source of job satisfaction.
    Therefore, encourage the formation of self-governing workshops and offices fo 5 to 20 workers. Make each group autonomous. Where the work is complicated and requires larger organizations, several of these groups can federate and cooperate.3

Here is an analysis of Christopher Alexander’s pattern language in architecture.

1 Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, with Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, and Shlomo Angel, A Pattern Language (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 51–57.
2 Ibid., p. 222–226.
3 Ibid., p. 398–403.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Glöm inte bort företagets ekologi

Lasse Ramquist och Mats Eriksson skriver i boken Manöverbarhet:

Att [enbart] jobba med ett logiskt-rationellt och fragmenterat perspektiv … är liktydigt med att glömma företagets ekologi. Det innebär att man glömmer bort att alla företag är … komplexa levande system. Det innebär att man behandlar levande system som om de vore tekniska system …1

Lasse Ramquist & Mats Eriksson, Manöverbarhet, s. 132.

1 Lasse Ramquist & Mats Eriksson, Manöverbarhet: VU-processen—en ledningsmodell för strategisk fokusering, medarbetarengagemang och konkurrens på livets villkor (Ekerlids Förlag, 2000). s. 132.

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?

John Seddon on lean

John Seddon writes about lean in his two books Freedom from Command & Control and The Whitehall Effect. He writes that the term lean was coined by Womack, Roos and Jones1 when they wrote The Machine That Changed the World. The term thus came to represent the Toyota Production System as a whole.

What’s interesting is that Taiichi Ohno, the man behind the Toyta Production System, unequivocally warned against using any kind of label on grounds that people then would view it as a ready-made package.2 Ohno counselled, never codify method, because it is the thinking that is the key.3 Ohno’s favorite word was understanding. He never explained.4 To Ohno, the approach was a way of behaving when faced with problems that needed solving.5 The point is that you can only absorb counterintuitive truths by studying and seeing them yourself.6

To sum up, the reason lean has become so popular is that it reduced the Toyota Production System to a set of tools.7 Tools can be taught and reporting can be institutionalized.8 Learning, on the other hand, requires active involvement.9

Updates 2016-06-19:
References added to Freedom from Command & Control and The Machine That Change the World.

1 John Seddon, Freedom from Command & Control, (2nd ed., 2005), p. 182.
2 John Seddon, The Whitehall Effect, (1st ed., 2014), p. 149.
3 Ibid..
4 Ibid..
5 John Seddon, Freedom from Command & Control, (2nd ed., 2005), p. 182.
6 John Seddon, The Whitehall Effect, (1st ed., 2014), p. 150.
7 Ibid..
8 John Seddon, Freedom from Command & Control, (2nd ed., 2005), p. 182.
9 Ibid..

Life-nurturing vs. life-depleting behaviors

The environment within which people work is key to the organization’s success. Life-nurturing conditions contribute to high creativity and productivity, while life-depleting conditions contribute to apathy and low productivity.

Life-nurturing behaviors 1 Life-depleting behaviors 2
Listening Controlling
Understanding Punishing
Trusting Regulating
Sharing Telling
Clarifying Shaming

1 These are some of the behaviors listed in Birgitt Williams, The Genuine Contact Way: Nourishing a Culture of Leadership, (DALAR, 2014), p. 221.
2 Ibid..

A rainbow of intelligences

Lasse Ramquist and Mats Eriksson believe that we all can access each one of the following intelligences. The more we use them, the more they develop.

Color Values Strenghts Weaknesses
Beige Survival Brings full energy to the job at hand if something is at stake. 1 Falls into complacency when feeling safe. 2
Purple Belonging Builds strong relationships with colleagues, and always ready to help. 3 Sense of belonging is not necessarily to colleagues or the organization. 4
Red Concrete operational logic Quickly finds the best solution to practical challenges. 5 Stubborn and aggressive self-confidence. 6
Blue Rules and roles Uses basic routines and simple rules that make things work. 7 Blindly follows structures and procedures. 8
Orange Rationality and creativity Ignores rules, if necessary, to achieve the objectives. 9 Believes the ends justify the means. 10
Green Contextual logic Listens closely to the viewpoints of everybody involved. 11
Yellow Visionary and integral logic Wants to understand how everything fits together. 12
Turquoise Global and holistic logic Understands that the organization and its environment co-exist and co-evolve. 13

1 Lasse Ramquist & Mats Eriksson, Integral Management, 2nd Edition, p. 162.
2 Ibid..
3 Ibid..
4 Ibid..
5 Ibid., p. 163.
6 Ibid..
7 Ibid..
8 Ibid..
9 Ibid..
10 Ibid..
11 Ibid., p. 164.
12 Ibid..
13 Ibid., p. 165.

Integral Management

Integral Management is a management model which addresses the question: ”What does it take to have everyone in a company wholeheartedly join forces and take on challenges that, to most companies, would seem quite impossible?” The model has grown organically for more than 25 years. It’s based on a learning dialog involving tens of thousands of managers and co-workers from around the world. There is a book in Swedish, Manöverbarhet (maneuverability), by Lasse Ramquist and Mats Eriksson, which describes the management model and its development since the early 1980s in detail. There’s also a shorter English version of the book, Integral Management (see the picture), which describes the model and how to make a company come together as One Team.

Related post:
Analysis of Integral Management

Keeping your heart alive

When we are present in our work as human beings, when we are connected to the lives around us, and the stories around us, the work itself will sustain you, and inspire you, and even heal you.
— Rachel Naomi Remen

Keeping Your Heart Alive: Rachel Naomi Remen talks about the importance of connecting to your heart in healthcare.

Ralph Stacey on rule-following

Ralph Stacey writes that we have to think of global organizational order as continually emerging in myriad local interactions,1 and that it is highly simplistic to think of human beings as rule-following beings.2 In our acting, we may take account of rules but can hardly be said to blindly follow them.3

The essential and distinctive characteristic of human beings is that we are conscious and self-conscious beings capable of emotion, spontaneity, imagination, fantasy and creative action. We are essentially reflexive and reflective.4 We do not interact blindly according to mechanistic rules, but engage in meaningful communicative interaction with each other.5 We establish power relations between ourselves.6 And we also exercise at least some degree of choice as to how we will respond to the actions of others.7 In addition, we use tools and technologies to accomplish what we choose to do.8

This means that consciousness, self-consciousness, reflection and reflexivity, creativity, imagination and fantasy, communication, meaning, power, choice, evaluation, tool use and sociality should explicitly be brought to any interpretation, as regards human beings.9

1 Patricia Shaw and Ralph Stacey (editors), Experiencing Risk, Spontaneity and Improvisation in Organizational Change: Working live, (Routledge, 2006), p. 125.
2 Ibid., p. 126.
3 Ibid..
4 Ibid..
5 Ibid..
6 Ibid..
7 Ibid..
8 Ibid..
9 Ibid..

Related post:
Ralph Stacey on beliefs

Book Review: Turn the Ship Around!

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet is ”a call to action, a manifesto” for turning followers into leaders (p. xxx) . At its core is the belief that ”we can all be leaders, in fact, it’s best when we all are leaders” (p. xxvii). David Marquet’s view is that ”we all have what it takes” to be leaders, and that ”we all need to use our leadership abilities in every aspect of our work life” (p. xxvii). His vision is a ”world where we all find satisfaction in our work”, and where ”every human being is intellectually engaged, motivated, and self-inspired” (p. xxx). Treating people as followers means that ”a vast untapped human potential is lost” (p. 15).

Never ever give an order
David Marquet is the unusual submarine captain who ”vowed … never to give an order, any order” (p. 81). Eventually everything was turned upside-down on the ship. Instead of ”one captain giving orders to 134 men” there was ”135 independent, energetic, emotionally committed and engaged men” thinking about what needed to be done, finding ”ways to do it right” (p. 84). This turned all men ”into active leaders as opposed to passive followers” (p. 84). Through ”trial-and-error, the crew arrived at a body of practices and principles that were dramatically more effective” than those within the traditional leader-follower model (p. 204).

Decision-making, competence, and clarity
The book covers the ”leader-leader practices” that were introduced (p. 49).  These practices are divided into three parts which are related to decision-making, competence, and clarity of purpose. The first step in turning the whole crew into leaders is to delegate the ”decision-making authority, as much as is comportable, and then adding a pinch more” (p. 59). David Marquet discovered that as the ”ability to make decisions” increased, the crew also need more ”intimate technical knowledge on which to base those decisions” (p. 128). Furthermore, he discovered that it ”becomes increasingly important that everyone throughout the organization understands what the organization is about” (p. 161). If this ”clarity of purpose is misunderstood”, then ”suboptimal decisions will be made” (p. 161).

Leadership at every level!
The core of the leader-leader model is ”giving employees control over what they work on and how they work” (p. 206). The two enabling pillars are ”competence and clarity” (p. 206). Here are some of the practices described in the book:

  • Delegate the decision-making as far as possible
  • Act your way into the new thinking
  • Short, early conversations make efficient work
  • Learn everywhere, all the time
  • Specify goals, not methods
  • Achieve excellence, don’t just avoid mistakes
  • Build trust and take care of each other
  • Encourage questioning over obedience

Emancipation results when ”we are recognizing the inherent genius, energy, and creativity in all people, and allowing those talents to emerge” (p. 213). It’s a great and very inspiring book!

Taylorism in Druckerian clothes

Gianpiero Petriglieri argues that Technology Is Not Threatening Our Humanity — We Are in the 30 October 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review. Petriglieri writes that while ”technology often augments leaders’ power … it is humanity that keeps power in check”, and that ”we would do well to revisit a fierce debate that shaped one of the most widespread technologies of the last century—management”.

Frederick Taylor had the view that ”the function of managers was to increase efficiency and maximize their enterprises’ returns”, while Peter Drucker had ”a humanistic view of managers’ function in the enterprise”. Petriglieri warns us that once ”all we care about is efficiency, and humanism is reduced to a matter of style, the real threat comes from the smart machines that we have become, not from those we will build”. If ”humanism is a strategy for … instrumental aims” then ”all we are left with is Taylorism in Druckerian clothes”.

Om att arbeta

Kväkargården, Kristinehovsgatan 6, Stockholm

Lördagen den 24/10 hölls en retreat om att arbetaKväkargården i Stockholm. Frågor som vi berörde var: Vad är arbete och vad betyder vårt arbete för oss? Hur kan vi förhålla oss till arbetsro och arbetsstress? Hur finner vi vårt rätta arbete, som ställer oss i ett meningsfullt och innerligt förhållande till livet?

Vi var sex deltagare som under dagen växlade mellan gemensamma samtal och tid för egen eftertanke. Dagen leddes av Torbjörn Söderquist, som också delade ut några texter om att arbeta. Här är några citat:

  • … då ni arbetar, älskar ni i sanning livet, ty att älska livet genom arbete är att vara förtrogen med livets innersta hemlighet.1
  • Ett utslag av arbetsoro är arbetsjäktet. … Så snart innerlighet är med i en människas arbetsförhållande råder icke jäkt hur snabbt hennes arbetstakt än må vara …2
  • Möjligheten ligger i att varje person gör ur en fri vilja vad som han blir kallad till i överensstämmelse med sina styrkor och förmågor.3
  • Vissa jobb är skitjobb i den meningen att löner och villkor är skit. Andra jobb är skitjobb i den meningen att de inte bidrar ett skit till världen.4
  • Skitjobb hjälper ingen ur skiten.5

Detta var första gången som jag deltog i en retreat. Jag tilltalades av formatet där gemensamma samtal ur tystnaden varvades med samtal i mindre grupper. Vid samtalen två-och-två talade den ena personen medan den andra lyssnade, och sedan bytte vi. Vid samtalen tre-och-tre hade vi minimöten för klarhet där en person talade om hur hen har det på arbetet, medan de två andra ställde klargörande och öppna (icke ledande) frågor, och sedan roterade vi. Under dagen fick jag några frågor från de övriga deltagarna som jag har tagit med mig hem som ”gåva” att fundera vidare kring.

1 Kahlil Gibran, Profeten, 1923.
2 Emilia Fogelclou.
3 Rudolf Steiner, Den fundamentala sociala lagen, 1919.
4 Roland Paulsen, DN 2015-06-04.
5 Roland Paulsen, DN 2015-05-29.

Relaterade inlägg:
Att lyssna till livet i allt
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Anteckningar från ett kväkerskt beslutsmöte

Book Review: Team of Teams

Teams of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal, with Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell, is a book about the restructuring of the Joint Special Operations Task Force from the ground up. The book is built upon the authors ”personal experiences”, together with their ”reviews” of ”published studies” and ”interviews” with ”experts in a wide variety of fields” (p. 5). The authors ”lay out the symptoms”, the ”root causes”, and the ”approaches” that they and others have found effective (p. 5). I think the book contains a useful blend of practical and theoretical knowledge.

The authors describe in detail throughout the book how they restructured the Task Force ”from the ground up on principles of extremely transparent information sharing … and decentralized decision-making authority”. In short, how the Task Force became ”a team of teams” (p. 20). The Task Force was an ”awesome machine”, but it was ”too slow, too static, and too specialized” to deal with its volatile environment (p. 81). Key to the necessary transformation was to understand what made the ”constituent teams adaptable, and how this differed from the structure and culture” of the Task Force at large (p. 92).

Trust & Purpose
The teams in the Task Force are forged ”methodically and deliberately” (p. 94). The purpose of the training is to ”build superteams” (p. 96). The training is all about ”developing trust and the ability to adapt within a small group” (p. 97). This is done because ”teams whose members know one another deeply perform better” (p. 98). Teams which are ”fused by trust and purpose” are much more potent, and ”can improvise a coordinated response to dynamic, real-time developments” (p. 98). ”Team members tackling complex environments must all grasp the team’s situation and overarching purpose” (p. 99). The physical hardship during the training “is a test, not of strength, but of commitment” (p. 99). Furthermore, “failure is always punished” (p. 97). The trainees who make it through the training ”believe in the cause” (p. 100), and are prepared “placing their lives at risk … alongside committed patriots” (p. 100).

Oneness & Adaptivity
The competitive advantage of teams is “their ability to think and act as a seamless unit” (p. 105). This is sometimes called “joint cognition” (p. 105). The point is that “a thorough integration of minds … can unlock far more complex solutions than a set of individual thinkers” (p. 105). Great teams are more like “awesome organisms” than “awesome machines” (p. 120). However, the challenge is that the larger the organization gets, the “harder it is for it to think and act as one” (p. 124). Team dynamics are “powerful but delicate” (p. 127), and teams are “much trickier to build and maintain than we like to think” (p. 127). Accomplishing a true “team of teams” involved “a complete reversal of the conventional approach to information sharing, delineation of roles, decision-making authority, and leadership” (p. 131).

Information Sharing
The transformation of the Task Force “demanded the adoption of extreme transparency” in order to provide “every team with an unobstructed, constantly up-to-date view of the rest of the organization” (p. 163). The critical first step was to share the “information widely” and be generous with “people and resources” (p. 167). The thinking was that the value of the “information and the power that came with it were greater the more it was shared” (p. 167). The “Operations & Intelligence brief” became the “heart muscle of the organism” and the “pulse by which it would live or die” (p. 164). The O&I, as it was commonly called, was a daily meeting “held by the leadership … to integrate everything the command is doing with everything it knows” (p. 164). Over time, the O&I began to “develop its own gravitational pull as more and more groups recognized what the speed and transparency … could offer” (p. 167). Individual and organizational “arrogance manifested itself in subtle ways as people tried to assert or maintain their preeminence”, but “eventually people either produced or faded in importance” (p. 166).

Information sharing was just a start. The next step was to strengthen the relationships “among the Task Force’s internal teams”, and between “the Task Force and the partner agencies” (p. 180). Slowly, “personal relationships” and “bonds of trust” grew between the teams (pp. 175—177). “Bonds of trust began to form” and “began to overcome internal competition and barriers to cooperation” (p. 180). The “new architecture” consisted of “extreme participatory transparency” and the “creation of strong internal connectivity across teams” (p. 197). Paradoxically, the “seemingly instantaneous communications … slowed rather than accelerated decision making” (p. 202).

The practice of relaying decision up and down the chain of command is based on “the assumption … that the cost of the delay is less than the cost of the errors produced by removing a supervisor” (p. 209). In reality, “the risks of acting too slowly were higher than the risks of letting competent people make judgment calls” (p. 209). Authority was pushed down “until it made us uncomfortable” (p. 214). On the whole, this initiative “met with tremendous success” (p. 214). “More important, and more surprising, we found that, even as speed increased and we pushed authority further down, the quality of decisions actually went up” (p. 214). One reason for this was that “an individual who makes a decision becomes more invested in its outcome” (p. 215). Another reason was that “leadership simply did not understand what was happening on the ground as thoroughly as the people who were there” (p. 215). “Individuals and teams closest to the problem, armed with unprecedented levels of insights from across the network, offer the best ability to decide and act decisively” (p. 219).

The role of the senior leader changed. The role “was no longer that of [a] controlling puppet master, but rather that of an empathetic crafter of culture” (p. 222). The focus shifted to “shaping the ecosystem” (p. 226). “Thinking out loud” and openly admitting “I don’t know” was “accepted, even appreciated” (p. 229). “Asking for opinions and advice showed respect”. The “overall message reinforced by the O&I was that we have a problem that only we can understand and solve” (p. 229). “A leader’s words matter, but actions ultimately do more to reinforce or undermine the implementation of a team of teams” (p. 232).

The authors emphasize that “there is no such thing as an organizational panacea—the details will always be different for different people, places, and objectives—but” they ”believe that” their ”model provides a good blueprint” (p. 249). I think something really important has to be at stake in order to be able to turn an organization into a team of teams. I also think you need to have true teams in place, and not just teams in name. The way of forging teams described in the book is extreme to say the least. And I think the role of senior leadership can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing if senior leadership really understands—and accepts—the central tenets outlined in the book. It’s a curse if senior leadership doesn’t, because then the team of teams will be turned into a “command of teams”, or just an old-fashioned “command” (p. 129). The book is well worth reading!

S. McChrystal, T. Collins, D. Silverman, & C. Fussell, Team of Teams, p. 129.

Related book review:
The Art of Action by Stephen Bungay

Dee Hock on control

Life is not about control. It’s not about getting. It’s not about having. It’s not about knowing. It’s not even about being. Life is eternal, perpetual becoming, or it is nothing. Becoming is not a thing to be known, commanded, or controlled. It is a magnificent, mysterious odyssey to be experienced.1

… I have long puzzled where mechanistic organizational concepts originated, and why we are so blind to their reality. Their genesis reaches back to Aristotle, Plato, and even beyond. However, it was primarily Newtonian science and Cartesian philosophy that fathered those concepts, giving rise to the machine metaphor. That metaphor has since dominated our thinking, the nature of our organizations, and the structure of industrial society to a degree few fully realize.2

For nearly three centuries we have worked diligently to structure society in accordance with that concept, believing that with ever more reductionist scientific knowledge, ever more specialization, ever more technology, ever more efficiency, ever more linear education, ever more rules and regulations, ever more hierarchal command and control, we could learn to engineer organizations in which we could pull a lever at one place, get a precise result at another, and know with certainty which lever to pull or for which result. Never mind that human beings must be made to behave as cogs and wheels in the process.3

The first and paramount responsibility of anyone who purports to manage is to manage self—one’s own integrity, character, ethics, knowledge, wisdom, temperament, words, and acts. It is a never-ending, difficult, oft-shunned task. The reason is not complicated. It is ignored precisely because it is incredibly more difficult than prescribing and controlling the behavior of others.4

Everyone is a born leader. Who can deny that from the moment of birth they were leading parents, siblings, and companions? Watch a baby cry and the parents jump. We were all leaders until we were sent to school to be commanded, controlled, and taught to do likewise.5

People are not “things” to be manipulated, labeled, boxed, bought and sold. Above all else, they are not “human resources.” We are entire human beings, containing the whole of the evolving universe. We must examine the concept of superior and subordinate with increasing skepticism. We must examine the concept of management and labor with new beliefs. We must examine the concept of leader and follower with new perspectives. Above all else, we must examine the nature of organizations that demand such distinctions with new consciousness.6

Only in a harmonious, oscillating dance of both competition and cooperation can the extremes of control and chaos be avoided and peaceful, constructive societal order be found.7

In organizations of the future, it will be much more important to have a clear sense of purpose and sound principles within which many specific, short-term objectives can be quickly achieved, than a long-range plan with fixed, measurable objectives. Such plans often lead to futile attempts to control events to make them fit the plan, rather than understanding events so as to advance by all means in the desired direction.8

In organizations of the future the centuries-old effort to eliminate judgment and intuition, art if you will, from the conduct of institutions will change. Organizations have too long aped the traditional mechanistic, military model wherein obedience to orders is paramount and individual behavior or independent thinking frowned upon, if not altogether forbidden. In organizations of the future it will be necessary to have people in every position capable of discernment, of making fine judgments and acting sensibly upon them. The industrial age trend toward stultifying, degrading, rote work that gradually reduces people to the compliant, subordinate behavior one expects from a well-trained horse will not continue.9

It extends far beyond a factory worker on an assembly line. Vast white-collar bureaucracies exist everywhere, with mountains of procedures manuals depressing minds, avalanches of directives burying judgment, forests of reports obscuring perception, floods of studies inundating initiative, oceans of committees submerging responsibility and drowning decisions. You know what I mean. You have endlessly suffered through it and, worse yet, may be inflicting it on others. It has created a society of people alienated from their work and from the organizations in which they are enmeshed. Far too much ingenuity, effort, and intelligence go into circumventing the mindless, sticky web of rules and regulations by which people are needlessly bound.10

1 Dee Hock, One From Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization, (Berrett-Koehler, 2005), p. 7.
2 Ibid., p. 37.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid., p. 48.
5 Ibid., p. 55.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid., p. 226.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid., p. 227.
10 Ibid.

Related posts:
Dee Hock in his own words
Dee Hock on rules
Agile software development in the 1970s

What if control is inappropriate?

My conclusion after having read Brian Robertson’s new book on Holacracy and Gerard Endenburg’s first book on Sociocracy is that neither Holacracy nor Sociocracy replace Command & Control (C&C). Both use C&C within limits.

This triggered feedback from Holacracy people that the Lead Link Role doesn’t manage day-to-day work and doesn’t manage others, but that there is definitely control in Holacracy. All Roles ”have the authority to control and regulate” their own Domains (Holacracy Constitution v4.1, 1.4 Authority Over Domains). There is definitely control in Sociocracy too.

My follow-up question is: What if control in itself is inappropriate?

Here is an interesting article on The ”Command and Control” Military Gets Agile by Daniel Mezick, which contains references to writers within the military who challenge control themselves. Key points are that complex situations cannot be controlled, and control is in fact an emergent property, not an option to be selected. Here are a few quotes:

The word “control” is inappropriate … because it sends the wrong message. It implies that complex situations can be controlled, with the implication that there is the possibility of an engineering type solution. … But this is a dangerous oversimplification. The best that one can do is to create a set of conditions that improves the probability that a desirable (rather than an undesirable) outcome will occur and to change the conditions when what is expected is not occurring. Control is in fact an emergent property, not an option to be selected. … The argument that … commanders in the military or… management in industry do not have control creates cognitive dissonance. Nevertheless, this is undoubtedly the case. The widespread belief that we have control is merely an illusion, and a dangerous one at that. The literature on complex adaptive systems explains why the notion of control as a verb is misguided.1

…any Complex Adaptive System…cannot be controlled or ruled: a CAS will simply find ways of working around the rules if the context in which it formed remains viable. … The basis of these … systems of working … are based upon very simple trusts — not rules …
Essentially, the tension is … between trusts and rules.

Attempts to control complex systems … tend to be pointless at best or destructive at worst.3

And here are quotes from some non-military references:

For life, where freedom of choice in acting exists, control and prediction is impossible, attempts to control are destructive to life and lead to chaos. If we examine the causes of our failing institutions, it is easy to show that attempts to control them, violating normal processes of life, makes them fail.4

We talk and write about leaders and managers being in control of organizations. In the reality of our experience, however, no one can control the interplay of intentions, because they cannot control what everyone else in every other organization is choosing and doing. Consequently, no one can choose or be in control of what happens.5

For nearly three centuries we have worked diligently to structure society in accordance with that concept, believing that with ever more reductionist scientific knowledge, ever more specialization, ever more technology, ever more efficiency, ever more linear education, ever more rules and regulations, ever more hierarchal command and control, we could learn to engineer organizations in which we could pull a lever at one place, get a precise result at another, and know with certainty which lever to pull or for which result. Never mind that human beings must be made to behave as cogs and wheels in the process.6

1 David S. Alberts, The International C2 Journal | Vol 1, No 1, 2007, pp. 15—16.
2 Simon Reay Atkinson & James Moffat, The Agile Organization: From Informal Networks to Complex Effects and Agility, pp. 5—6, 7.
3 Stanley McChrystal, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, (Penguin, 2015), p. 68.
4 Norm Hirst, Towards a Science of Life as Creative Organisms, (Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, vol. 4, nos. 1-2, 2008), p. 93.
5 Ralph Stacey, Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change / Gervase R. Bushe & Robert J. Marshak, editors, (Berett-Koehler, 2015), p. 153.
6 Dee Hock, One From Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization, (Berrett-Koehler, 2005), p. 37

Related posts:
The big misconception in sociocracy
Dee Hock on control
Harrison Owen on control
Fritz Perls on control
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Traditional vs. Sociocratic vs. Holacratic Command & Control
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy
Book Review: Holacracy by Brian Robertson
Book Review: Sociocracy by Gerard Endenburg
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Machines are allonomic, living organisms are autonomic
Autognomics: Radical Self-Knowing
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?
Carl Rogers on person-centered leadership

Soul of Business

The causes of much of what happens in our lives lie far deeper than we imagine. The Soul Biographies by Nic Askew look beneath the surface of our lives, work and society at an unusual depth. And in doing so, the films open our eyes wide to what people and organizations might become.

Managing without soul

Henry Mintzberg writes about the epidemic of managing without soul

Managing without soul has become an epidemic in society: managers who specialize in killing cultures, at the expense of human engagement.

I’ve been in the business of studying organizations for so long that I can often walk into a place and sense soul, or no soul, in an instant.

… and asks …

Why do we build so many great institutions only to let them wither under the control of people who should never have been allowed to manage anything?

Yes, why?

Ett exempel på värdegrund

För några år sedan hörde jag en föreläsning av Nirvan Richter, grundare av Norrgavel. Föredraget handlade dels om hantverket i möbelsnickeri, dels om Norrgavels värdegrund. Nirvan Richter är en färgstark person med starka värderingar. Norrgavels värdegrund är tredelad och har ett humanistiskt, ett ekologiskt och ett existensiellt perspektiv:

  • Humanistisk – om människan: Ambitionen är alltid att göra möblerna så fina som det någonsin går. Möblerna är bruksföremål som skall vara funktionella och praktiska, men de skall oockså göra vardagslivet enkelt och vackert. Mottot är okonstlad enkelhet.
  • Ekologisk – om naturen: Konsekvent kretsloppstänkandet utgör själva grunden i sättet att göra möblerna. Användningen av förnyelsebara råmaterial handlar inte enbart om kretsloppstänaknde utan har också med upplevelsen att göra. Äggoljetemperans doft. Den fysiska känslan när man stryker handen över en såpad träyta. Naturmaterial åldras som regel med behag. Ytterligare en ekologisk aspekt är funktionen. Möblerna ska tåla att användas dagligen under lång tid.
  • Existentiell – om evigheten: Vad är meningen med allt? Vem är jag? Vad är egentligen viktigt i livet? Livsviktigt, alltså! Ett barns födelse. En anhörigs död. Att få vara frisk. På ett sätt är det livsviktigt precis hur möblerna är utformade och ur en annan synvinkel är det fullkomligt oväsentligt. Möblerna skall inte dominera livet utan vara en bakgrund till det. Inspiration kommer från den japanska traditionen och amerikansk shaker. När möblerna görs åt Gud duger enbart det bästa.

Craftsmanship and meaning making

”Meaning is created through a craft approach to life.”
— Alan Moore

Here is the story about the transformation of Gränsfors Bruk into an innovative, sustainable, and lightweight company. It’s a story of transforming a company from a mass production-style manufacturer, to a small scale, high quality shop with skilled, dedicated, and engaged co-workers. It’s a story about another way of doing business based on values that manifest themselves in the whole company and its products. It’s a story which gives hope for small scale, sustainable ways of running businesses. It’s a story of craftsmanship.