Etikettarkiv: Methods

Bob Emiliani on Scientific Management and Toyota Management

Bob Emiliani

Bob Emiliani is a professor of Lean Management. Here is his post on the historical parallels between Scientific Management 100 years ago and Toyota Management today.

People flocked to Scientific Management to become consultants. They would then install something similar in appearance to Scientific Management. Soon an efficiency movement was born, which installed dilutions of Scientific Management.

Similarly people became aware of Toyota’s Production System (TPS) in the 1970s. Interestingly, most studied the technical aspects of TPS, but not the human aspects. Soon a small army of consultants started to sell TPS tools. TPS is seen as a production system. Yet, TPS was Toyota’s management system. In 1988, the term Lean production was introduced. This resulted in a huge army of consultants and the Lean movement was born, which implemented dilutions of TPS.

Business leaders are devoted to finding the latest tools that help them achieve short-term gains. Consultants are more than happy to help, regardless of whether the movement is called Lean, Agile, or something else.

Here are Bob Emiliani’s recent blog posts.

 

 

Michael Pannwitz on pre-conditions for Open Space

Here are quotes of Michael M Pannwitz from an email to the World wide Open Space Technology email list June 6, 2016. (My emphasis in bold.)

I think that there is a much easier way to have the sponsor find out whether ost [Open Space Technology] fits his situation… Simply go through the preconditions for an open space event that has at its nucleus the attempt to widen the space for the forces of self[-]organisation to unfold:

  • is attendance voluntary?
  • is it an open question?
  • is it a complex issue (not simply a complicated matter)?
  • is there sufficient diversity as far as participants is concerned?
  • is it a situation of conflict?
  • is it urgent?

In case the sponsor finds all preconditions sufficently in place I as faciliator give him all the promises we usually list. I have found this approach to entail the least amount of work for me and keeps all the responsibility where it should be, with the sponsor.

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.

Notes:
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..

Foundational beliefs of the Genuine Contact Way

The Genuine Contact Way, as applied to our work, is about inviting everyone within the organization to express their fullness in all that they do, to contribute to the collective wisdom of the organization, and to experience high enjoyment, high creativity, high productivity, and high engagement every day. 1 The five foundational beliefs of the Genuine Contact Way are: 2

  1. Spirit (conscious energy) is all that is.
  2. All organisms have within them the blueprint for their perfect health. It is imperative that we learn to make life-nurturing rather than life-depleting choices.
  3. Genuine contact with the self, one other, the collective(s), and all of creation is critical to our positive development and evolution both individually and as a collective.
  4. Change is constant. We need to expand the capacity for working with constant change.
  5. Simplicity allows us to handle complexity. We must keep it simple.

In keeping it simple, it is important to pause, slow down, and determine your own beliefs. 3

Notes:
1 Birgitt Williams, The Genuine Contact Way: Nourishing a Culture of Leadership, (DALAR, July 2014), p. 2.
2 Ibid., p. 211.
3 Ibid., p. 212.

Indaba

Indaba” (pronounced IN-DAR-BAH), comes from the Zulu and Xhosa people of southern Africa, and is used to simplify discussions between many parties.

When things got tricky at the climate-change summit in Paris, indabas where held at all hours of the day. An indaba is designed to allow each part to speak personally and state their thresholds, while also suggesting solutions to find a common ground.

This Quartz article describes indabas as a way to reach consensus, but to me it sounds more like consent.

See also indaba on Wikipedia.

Inner Bonding


Inner bonding is a process developed by Margaret Paul and Erika Chopich for connecting our adult thoughts with the feelings of our inner child, so that we can reduce the inner conflict within ourselves. Here is a video where Margaret Paul describes the six steps of inner bonding:

  1. Willingness to feel the pain/fear
  2. Choose the intent to learn
  3. Dialogue with wounded self
  4. Dialogue with higher guidance
  5. Take loving action
  6. Evaluate effectiveness of action

The powers of six

The information needed to effect self-organized change is literally ‘in-formation’ – that which is found or formed from within. It is our inner intelligence at work. How do we tap this inner intelligence?

The Powers of Six is a methodology for eliciting and utilizing a person’s inner intelligence, which is driven by six conditions:

  • Clean Input: minimally-assumptive, non-suggestive and influence-free questions.
  • Present Tense: information and experience are all in the here and now.
  • Adjacent Spaces: new information emerges from adjacent body~mind spaces.
  • Iteration: each response informs the next response until new knowledge emerges.
  • Formula: a simple procedure allows exclusive self-concentration.
  • Six-ness: all conditions interact and and operate as a whole.

Related posts:
Clean questions
Clean language

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.
2

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

Notes:
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

Holacracy vs. Sociocracy

I have written book reviews of Brian Robertson’s new book on Holacracy and Gerard Endenburg’s first book on Sociocracy. Robertson’s book was published in 2015. Endenburg’s book was originally published in Dutch in 1981. The first English translation was published in 1988, and the Eburon edition, which I have reviewed, in 1998. Here’s my comparison between Holacracy® and sociocracy together with my conclusions:

Aims
Endenburg and Robertson have very different aims with their respective methods. Endenburg wants to ”enable everyone … to develop as far and in as diversified a manner as possible” (Endenburg, Sociocracy, p. 5), while Robertson wants to ”harness the tremendous sensing power of the human consciousness available to our organizations” (Robertson, Holacracy, p. 7).

Organizations
Robertson and Endenburg also have very different views on organizations and their purpose. Robertson views the organization as ”an entity that exists beyond the people, with its own purpose to enact and with work to do beyond just serving the people doing that work” (Holacracy, p. 148), while Endenburg thinks that an organization ”exist for us and it is in our interest that the actual problem-solving capability of our organizations is as great as possible” (Sociocracy, p. 142). Organizations provide goods and services “on behalf of the community” (Sociocracy, p. 89), and they serve the community and “the participants in the company” (Sociocracy, p. 89).

People
Endenburg recognizes the worth of the whole person, while Robertson primarily views people as “role fillers” (Holacracy, p. 92). For Robertson it’s ”about processing tensions for the sake of our roles, which ultimately serve the organization’s purpose” (Holacracy, p. 113). This ”keeps the organization from being overly influenced by individual feelings and opinions that are not relevant to the work …” (Holacracy, p. 116). He differentiates between ”role and soul” (Holacracy, pp. 42—46). Endenburg, on the other hand, thinks that ”it is fundamentally important … to involve the complete individual in the decision-making process” (Sociocracy, p. 5). He wants to give both the individual and the group space ”to arrange their lives in accordance with their own wishes and needs” (Sociocracy, p. 10), and emphasizes the importance of each person’s ”equivalence in the decision-making” and ”equivalence in the potential for existence and development” (Sociocracy, p. 167).

Basic Rules
What’s interesting is that Holacracy and sociocracy use the same basic rules, or principles. One of Robertson’s “favorite metaphors” used to illustrate “dynamic steering” and “constant weaving” is riding a bicycle (Holacracy, p. 129). This is the same example which Endenburg uses to illustrate “weaving” and the “circle process” (Sociocracy, pp. 16—19). Both use nested circles which are “linked via two special roles” (Holacracy, pp. 46—56; Sociocracy, pp. 10—11, 26—27), decision-making with objections, and role elections. A difference is that all roles are elected in sociocracy, while only the ”Rep Link”, ”Facilitator”, and ”Secretary” are elected roles in Holacracy (Holacracy, p. 57).

Conclusions
I’d say that Holacracy is a full implementation of sociocracy. What Robertson does is to use his own words, and give them his own slant. The fundamental difference between Holacracy and sociocracy lies in Endenburg’s and Robertson’s different aims. Their different intentions influence their interpretations. The weak spot in sociocracy, as I see it, enabling Holacracy’s interpretation, is that the “principle of consent” or “principle of no objection” (Sociocracy, p.  10) is limited to deciding “operating limits” or rules (Sociocracy, p. 23). The vehicle for implementing this in Holacracy are the roles. If I’d give sociocracy my own slant, then I’d give all people in the organization the possibility to object to any decision which affects them. I think we need to create workplaces where people can thrive and show up fully as human beings, and not just act as ”role fillers” (Holacracy, p. 92). What I’d add to my own implementation of sociocracy would be conflict resolution. Otherwise, I’d keep the method to an absolute minimum, and follow Endenburg’s advice to let the the organization search for its own solutions in a ”sociocratic way” (Sociocracy, p. 12), i.e., by respecting people’s equivalence.

Related book reviews:
Book Review: Sociocracy by Gerard Endenburg
Book Review: Holacracy by Brian Robertson

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
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?
The big misconception in sociocracy
Is Sociocracy an empty method?
All roles in Holacracy are managerial roles
Holacratic tyranny
Sociocracy is both right and wrong
Is sociocracy agile?

Book Review: Sociocracy

Gerard Endenburg has written two major books on sociocracy, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making and Sociocracy: As social design. There is a considerable overlap between these two books. This is a review of the first book, which is of particular interest since it includes Gerard Endenburg’s own story of sociocracy. The original edition was published in Dutch in 1981.

Gerard Endenburg wrote the book ”in the certainty that a society’s organization must enable everyone … to develop as far and in as diversified a manner as possible” (p. 5). He thinks that ”behaviour is determined by the prevailing kind of decision-making” (p. 3), and that ”it is fundamentally important … to involve the complete individual in the decision-making process” (p. 5). He clarifies that ”any form of decision-making” is possible as long as the individual ”has no objection” (p. 6). He also emphasizes that sociocracy ”has consequences on all levels and in each area of our existence, both as individual and as society” (p. 6), and that sociocracy enables us ”to seek a more ‘human’ solution to literally all problems and conflicts” (p. 6). There is no reason, in his opinion, to ”accept our present political, economic and social systems” (p. 6). Endenburg’s aspirations with sociocracy are ambitious indeed.

The book is very informative, but difficult to read. Gerard Endenburg is an engineer and admits that his ”terminology … may sound rather cold and formal”, but thinks ”this is in fact how things must be done” (p. 54). Well, if you are an engineer maybe? Endenburg recognizes human dignity and worth, but he is not good at writing. Or, maybe it’s a poor English translation, or both?

The ”basic rule” of sociocracy is that the decision-making ”is governed by the principle of consent” (p. 9), which is also called the ”principle of no objection” (p. 10). This gives both the individual and the group space ”to arrange their lives in accordance with their own wishes and needs” (p. 10). Sociocracy guarantees ”the equality of each individual in the decision-making” (p. 10). The organization is ”broken down into smaller units”, which are called ”circles”, to ensure that the principle of consent can be applied consistently (p. 10). The circles, in turn, are interlinked to ensure feedback. This double-linking is ”one of the essential elements” of sociocracy, and is not only an interlinking between ”circles within an organization”, but also between ”organizations with common interests” (p. 11).

The ”four basic rules” of sociocracy are: 1) the ”principle of consent”, which governs the decision-making; 2) the ”sociocratic circle”, which has its own ”objective”, and does its own ”directing, operating, and measuring”; 3) the ”double-link” between circles consisting of ”at least two people”; and 4) the ”election” of people ”exclusively by consent after open discussion” (p. 11). The fourth rule follows ”logically from the first three”, but has been added since people are so strongly conditioned ”to elect people by counting votes” (p. 12). ”Sociocracy is the power of argument” (p. 12), not of votes.

Gerard Endenburg emphasizes that ”it must be noted that it is not simply a matter of introducing the four rules” in an organization. Each organization is unique and must search for solutions to its own problems in a sociocratic way. His experience is that solutions frequently come from people whom ”no-one would have thought of” (p. 12). He warns that the four rules ”sounds so simple, but that very simplicity can be deceptive” (p. 13). This simplicity can ”deceive us into ignoring, or only partially recognizing, the possibilities which” sociocracy has to offer (p. 13). Endenburg uses the rest of the book to explain these possibilities. Almost half of the book is used to explain in detail how sociocracy ”is being or may be applied in practice” (p. 51) as an ”individual” (pp. 51—52), in ”the family” (pp. 53—55), in ”the educational system” (pp. 56—87), in ”work” (pp. 88—126), and in ”government” (pp. 127—143). The common theme among all examples discussed is ”to make possible our individual life and the life we live with others” (p. 142). All organizations ”exist for us and it is in our interest that the actual problem-solving capability of our organizations is as great as possible” (p. 142). Companies provide goods and services ”on behalf of the community” (p. 89). They exist to serve the community and ”the participants in the company” (p. 89).

Life is ”an interplay of dynamic balances” (p. 15). The process which is capable of maintaining the ”dynamic equilibrium is … the feedback control loop or circle process” (p. 15). Endenburg is, as already mentioned, an engineer and the ”circle process” is a concept which comes from cybernetics. He uses two examples to describe the ”operation of the circle process” in ”maintaining a dynamic equilibrium”. The first is riding a bicycle (pp. 16—19), and the second is a central heating system (pp. 19—23). I agree with Endenburg that his example of riding a bicycle ”in reality … is far more complex than this simple example might suggest” (p. 16). The activities involving the brain, muscles, and nerves in riding a bicycle are extremely complex. I think it’s impossible to describe what’s really happening in any explicit way. Any attempt to follow Endenburg’s description of riding the bicycle would actually get in the way of riding it.

A major conclusion drawn from these two examples is that there is ”one limit which can never come under discussion”, and that is ”the limit which guarantees the equal say of each participant in the decision-making” (p. 23). It took me a long time to realize that this guarantee of ”equal say” only applies to deciding the operating limits, or ”thresholds”, of the system components. Endenburg acknowledges that the limits in riding a bicycle ”are not the same kind of limits as those within which the thermostat is allowed to perform its function”, but he still thinks that they ”indicate constraints within which control may be exercised” (p. 23). I’d challenge this. Why would I need to ”be empowered to issue” my ”own instructions … within certain limits” (p. 22)? I think this works fine for a thermostat, boiler, or sensor, but not for for a human being. People are autonomic regardless of any ”thresholds”. I think that the ”principle of consent” is generally applicable, and not only specifically in deciding operating limits or rules. Sociocracy ”does not ask for a ‘yes’ but does provide an opportunity to give a reasoned ‘no'” (p. 10). I need the opportunity to say ‘no’ to all decisions affecting me, not just rules. There’s also a nuanced difference between following rules and honoring agreements which sets them worlds apart for me. Just as we are strongly conditioned to use voting, we are also strongly conditioned on formalizing rules and roles. Rules become important when the focus is on not doing the ‘wrong’ thing, rather than doing the ‘right’ thing.

Gerard Endenburg acknowledges that ”we still know very little about regulation and control in our individual life and the life we live with others” (p. 31). He also acknowledges that ”people are not mechanical components, and people cannot be designed to to a job” (p. 30), and that ”man is not a machine or a machine component” (p. 39), but he doesn’t distinguish between ”machines” and ”organisms” (p. 39). I don’t think Gerard Endenburg has fully taken into account that machines are allonomic, while living organisms are autonomic. Life creates and recreates itself afresh with each passing moment through an incredible amount of activities which are perfectly, freely, and spontaneously coupled together. Life has a way of maintaining the ”dynamic equilibrium” which goes far beyond Endenburg’s examples. What if how we ”arrange” our lives ”in accordance with” our ”own wishes and needs” (p. 10) is not a cybernetic problem? If so, Endenburg’s logic is correct, but the wrong logic. It’s as if he gives with one hand (equivalence), but takes back with the other (equivalence only in deciding operating limits). Limits are very important for Endenburg since they ”are something we are constantly involved with throughout our individual life and the life we live with others” (p. 126). ”The rules exist for our benefit” and can be adapted according to ”our own needs and insights” (p. 73). They are needed ”in order to enable interplay within the organization” (p. 73). I think skillful conflict resolution is as important for the interplay.

The ”equivalence of each individual” is very important for Gerard Endenburg (p. 44). ”Just as … the principle of consent guarantees the equal say of each individual in the decision-making” (p. 42), Endenburg also proposes the introduction of a ”Subsistence Guarantee” for each individual (pp. 42—49). This guarantee ”would be an optimum way of guaranteeing the equivalence of every individual and would enable the individual to decide what to do with that equivalent status” (p. 49). People would be free to decide how to spend their time if ”their subsistence is not at stake” (p. 125). Endenburg realizes that the ”Subsistence Guarantee” would have ”far-reaching significance”, and suggests that the introduction of it would ”have to be very gradual” (p. 45). He still thinks ”what is important is that we do it” (p. 45).

It is Gerard Endenburg’s deep conviction that a sociocratically structured society ”will guarantee the equivalence of each individual in decision-making”, both ”in subsistence and in self-development” (p. 143). He comes back to this in his concluding remarks and emphasizes again the importance of each person’s ”equivalence in the decision-making” and ”equivalence in the potential for existence and development” (p. 167). The ”emancipation of the individual” is very important for him (p. 168). ”If one is to strive for self-realization, one must be given freedom to develop” (p. 57). Endenburg ends his book by saying that ”happiness is like a flower”, and that he hopes that his book, in that sense, ”may be a flower” (p. 168). May sociocracy itself be a flower.

Related book reviews:
We the People by John Buck and Sharon Villines
Holacracy by Brian Robertson

Related posts:
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy
The phenomenology of sociocracy

Book Review: Holacracy

Brian J. Robertson has written a book about Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy. Holacracy® is a governance system and a registered trademark owned by HolacracyOne. The word Holacracy is very easy to confuse with holocracy (with an o), which means universal democracy. Robertson’s aim with the system is to ”harness the tremendous sensing power of the human consciousness available to our organizations” (p. 7). This harnessing is done by ”a set of core rules” (p. 12). The Holacracy constitution acts as ”the core rule book for the organization” (p. 21). Robertson hopes that his readers will approach the book ”not as a set of ideas, principles, or philosophies, but as a guide to a new practice” (pp. 13—14).

Brian Robertson’s book is very readable and informative. I share Robertson’s view on the problems associated with ”predict and control” (p. 7) and his interest in finding ”better ways to work together” (p. 12), but I can also see problems with heavily rule based approaches. I think there’s a fundamental difference between following rules and honoring agreements. Rules are externally-focused, while agreements are internal because they are directly linked to will. Agreements, not rules, are the glue that ties commitment to results.

Brian Robertson focuses on practices in his book, while my interest primarily is on principles. This doesn’t mean that I think practices are unimportant. I share, however, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s view that ”The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” To paraphrase Emerson, the man who focus on rules and processes, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble. I also think that processes need to grow, or evolve, from their specific context. Each situation is unique in some way, small or large.

For Brian Robertson, it’s very important to ”prevent others from claiming power over you” (p. 21). This is done by establishing a ”core authority structure” and ”a system that empowers everyone” (p. 21). The power is in the ”process, which is defined in detail” (p. 21). For me, ”harnessing true self-organization and agility throughout an enterprise” (p. 20) is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. Harnessing self-organization might actually kill it. I suspect people might decide to withdraw their engagement if they realize that they are harnessed for the benefit of the organization only.

Brian Robertson defines a ”circle”, not as a group of people, but as a ”group of roles” (p. 48). The ”basic circle structure” consists of nested circles (p. 47). Robertson calls the hierarchy of ”nested circles” a ”holarchy” (p. 46). Arthur Koestler defines a ”holon” as ”a whole that is a part of a larger whole” and a ”holarchy” as ”the connection between holons” (p. 38). I’d challenge that a hierarchy of nested circles really is a holarchy. A person certainly is a holon, but I doubt that a role, in itself, is a holon. What inherent ”wholeness” does a role have if people are needed to ”energize” the role and ”enact” its accountabilities (p. 43)? Having said that, I do think that a group of people can become and act as a holon under certain circumstances. Maybe Bohmian Dialogue, the U-process, and Open Space Technology are examples when such circumstances can occur?

The nested circles in the basic circle structure are ”linked via two special roles”, the Lead and Rep Links (p. 49). The idea behind this interlinking of circles comes from the Sociocratic Circle Organization Method (Sociocracy), which was invented by Gerard Endenburg in the 1970s. Brian Robertson tried to patent the idea (Pub. No. US2009/006113 A1, Fig. 4), but subsequently abandoned the patent application. Other ideas in the patent application similar to Sociocracy are the decision-making (Fig. 6), governance meeting (Fig. 8), and role election (Fig. 9) processes. A significant difference between Sociocracy and Holacracy is that all roles are elected in Sociocracy, while only the Rep Link, Facilitator, and Secretary are elected roles in Holacracy (p. 57). Holacracy is also more prescriptive. The responsibility of people in a Holacracy is to act as role fillers. This is a ”sacred duty” and ”an act of love and service, not for your own sake, but nonetheless of your own free will” (p. 85). Holacracy ”empowers you to use your own best judgment to energize your role and do your work” (p. 97). I cannot help but wonder why people can’t empower themselves? Why do you need the permission of a system to use your own best judgment in your work?

In addition to the ”basic responsibility as role fillers”, people also have specific duties in ”offering transparency”, ”processing requests”, and ”accepting certain rules of prioritization” (p. 92). Transparency and effectiveness are important in Sociocracy too. However, equivalence doesn’t seem to be as important in Holacracy as in Sociocracy. In Holacracy, ”the process is all that matters, and the process will take care of everything else” (p. 111). The rules in Holacracy ”create a sacred space that frees each of us to act as sensors for the organization, without drama getting in the way” (p. 110). ”As long as the process is honored, you really don’t care how anyone feels — at least not in your role as facilitator.” (p. 110) I ask myself, aren’t feelings important if people are going to be able to act as sensors? The answer Brian Robertson gives is that ”it’s about processing tensions for the sake of our roles, which ultimately serve the organization’s purpose” (p. 113). ”This keeps the organization from being overly influenced by individual feelings and opinions that are not relevant to the work …” (p. 116). He assures that ”No one’s voice is silenced, yet egos aren’t allowed to dominate.” (p. 117) Well, really? Yes, says Robertson. Holacracy seeks to ”process every tension and be truly integrative; it’s also a recipe for [not] letting ego, fear, or groupthink hinder the organization’s purpose” (p. 125). ”Playing politics loses its utility …” (p. 126). I think that the politics of identifying issues and building support that is strong enough to result in action will always be there. It’s great if the politics can be channeled through Holacracy. If not, it will go underground.

One of Brian Robertson’s ”favorite metaphors” used to illustrate the ”dynamic steering” and ”constant weaving” is riding a bicycle (p. 129). Interestingly, this is the same metaphor which Gerard Endenburg uses to illustrate the circle process in Sociocracy. (References: G. Endenburg, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making, pp. 16—18; and G. Endenburg, Sociocracy: As Social Design, pp. 67—71). Robertson explains that ”Dynamic steering means constant adjustment in light of real feedback, which makes for a more organic and emergent path.” (p. 129) Dynamic steering done well ”enables the organization and those within it to stay present and act decisively on whatever arises day to day …” (p. 130). The focus is on ”quickly reaching a workable decision and then let reality inform the next step” (p. 131). As in Sociocracy, ”any decision can be revisited at any time” (p. 131). I think the dynamic steering is a major strength of both Holacracy and Sociocracy.

Holacracy defines the organization as ”an entity that exists beyond the people, with its own purpose to enact and with work to do beyond just serving the people doing that work” (p. 148). This is also why Holacracy isn’t a governance process ”of the people, by the people, for the people”, but ”of the organization, through the people, for the purpose” (p. 34). Holacracy differentiates ”between the human community and the organizational entity” (p. 149) and between the ”role and soul” (pp. 42—46). To summarize, ”Holacracy’s systems and processes are about continually helping the organization find its own unique identity and structure to do its work in the world, while protecting it from human agendas, egos, and politics.” (p. 199). Still, the organization needs human beings to energize and enact all its roles.

Holacracy is ”a big shift” (p. 145). Brian Robertson emphasizes that ”you can’t really practice Holacracy by adopting only part of the rules”, but ”you can take on all of the rules in only part of the company” (p. 147). Holacracy isn’t for everyone. Robertson has ”seen organizations where it just didn’t stick” (p. 167). The three most common scenarios he has identified are ”The Reluctant-to-Let-Go Leader”, ”The Uncooperative Middle”, and ”The Stopping-Short Syndrome” (p. 167). The last scenario is ”perhaps the most insidious” (p. 170) because ”slowly and almost imperceptibly, the change starts to fade” (p. 170). At best the organization ends up with ”a surface level improvement” only (p. 171). I don’t think this is a scenario unique to Holacracy. Regardless, Robertson claims that ”a majority” of the Holacracy implementations he has witnessed seems to result in ”lasting transformation” (p. 173).

Brian Robertson acknowledges at the end of the book that he is grateful to his mother for her great job in catalyzing the development of his ”strong and healthy ego” (p. 211). Robertson writes that he has a ”solid sense of self throughout” (p. 211). Unless he hadn’t had such a strong and healthy ego, he ”wouldn’t have needed a system capable of protecting others from it” (p. 212). To me, this sounds contradictory. I can understand if a person with a weak ego seeks protection in rules, but not why others would need protection from a person with a solid self and healthy ego. Maybe there are some deeply human needs behind Brian Robertson’s birthing of Holacracy? For one reason or another, Robertson perceives a need for a strong rule based system. It’s up to you to decide if you need such a system too! If so, it’s called Holacracy®.

Related book review:
Sociocracy by Gerard Endenburg

Related post:
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy

Principles vs. methods

The man who knows how will always have a job. The man who also know why will always be his boss. As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Zappos and Holacracy

”It’s kind of deliciously ironic that self-management is being decreed from above.”
— Jeffrey Pfeffer1

”Holacracy, itself, is too complex, dogmatic, and rigid.”
— Bud Caddell2

I’ve previously written about it here. There is always a cost in trying to script people’s behavior. They might decide to withdraw their engagement. I think this is what’s happening at Zappos right now. And I’d suspect there’re people staying at Zappos who’ll just play the game, but withdraw their hearts. Time will tell.

Notes
1 Richard Feloni, Inside Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s radical management experiment that prompted 14% of employees to quit, Business Insider UK, 2015-05-16.
2 Bud Caddell, Why Self-Organizing is So Hard, 2015-03-27.

Related posts:
The big misconception in sociocracy
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy
Book Review: Sociocracy
Book Review: Holacracy
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

Scaling sociocracy is all about the context

Scaling sociocracy is all about the context. And it has to be done by invitation in the first place. Sociocracy is, in a wider sense, rule by the ”socios,” people who have a social relationship with each other. The following is a quote of John Schinnerer from the Sociocracy email discussion list on Yahoo, April 17, 2015:

”Context is everything. When you don’t have socios, sociocracy may have some parts and pieces to offer the situation, but is not likely to function as designed. … Doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. But consent is fundamental. They would need to consent to working that way, first of all.”

I think that collaboration arises naturally somehow, including necessary structures, if there’s a ”socios” and something really important is at stake. And I think that we focus too much on the methods, and too little on the context, including the ”socios.” Sociocracy will not scale unless there is a ”socios” and a clear common aim, which has importance or urgency to it.

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
Unspoken sociocratic principles
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios
Holacracy vs. sociocracy
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?
The big misconception in sociocracy
Is Sociocracy an empty method?

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

In distrust of methods

Wendell Berry is a farmer and poet who has written an essay where he declares his distrust of movements. I think what Berry says about movements can be said about methods too.

  • Undoubtedly some people will want to develop methods.
  • The worst danger is that language loses its meaning through the use of fancy words.
  • The risk that methods provide piecemeal solutions is even higher than for movements.
  • The usage of a method doesn’t remove the need for the users to take responsibility, understand what they are doing, and why.
  • Methods are often accompanied by a profitable industry of training, certifications, and consulting.

In short, the risk is that methods start to live a life of their own, becoming goals in themselves, keeping consultants busy, dealing with effects while leaving causes in place. It’s not enough to change methods. Mindsets need to be changed too. That’s why I distrust methods.

Related posts:
Practices vs. mindset
Sociocracy requires a new mindset

Förändringens fyra rum

Förändringens fyra rum, rörelsen, övergångarna

För en vecka sedan deltog jag i en workshop där vi arbetade med Förändringens fyra rum, eller Fyrarummaren som metoden också kallas. Den bygger på en teori framtagen av Claes Janssen. Syftet med workshopen var främst att reflektera över sig själv.

Under veckan har jag fortsatt reflektera över övningarna vi gjorde. I Fyrarummaren beskrivs livets växling som en vandring mellan Nöjdhetens, Censurens, Förvirringens och Inspirationens/Förnyelsens rum. Övergången mellan rummen sker genom tre dörrar som handlar om att:

  1. Ifrågasätta den nuvarande livssituationen (och sammanfatta det förflutna).
  2. Ge upp det förflutna samtidigt som man söker nya alternativa möjligheter.
  3. Göra nya framtidsval (med tillräckligt engagemang och åtagande).

Under workshopen fokuserade vi på det individuella perspektivet, men teorin kan också användas för att beskriva organisationer. En nöjd organisation har realistiska mål som uppnås. En organisation som censurerar sig själv tar inte konsekvenserna av den nuvarande situationen. En förvirrad organisation är i konflikt med sig själv och saknar klara mål och prioriteringar. En inspirerad organisation har ett tydlig och välförankrat syfte vilket ger förutsättningar för förnyelse — och nöjdhet.

Att skapa och vidmakthålla ett starkt, och gemensamt, engagerat åtagande är nog den stora svårigheten.
— Claes Janssen, Introduktion till Personlig dialektik, sid 42.

Empowerment is a red herring

The following is a quote from Harrison Owen on the World wide Open Space Technology email list October 14, 2014.

”I know we talk a lot about empowerment, but I have come to the conclusion that it is really a red herring, and most painfully so in those situations where you actually try to do it. Sounds odd, I guess, but think about it. If I empower you … you are in my power. And the more I try to empower you the worse it gets.

Real empowerment … is not an act that we (or somebody) do, but an acknowledgement of a pre-existing condition … you are powerful. Of course I might encourage you a bit to be as powerful as you are, but it is not something I can give you. You must claim it for yourself. Strange as it may seem, I find the notion of “empowerment” to be just the opposite of that fundament of effective working relationships (or any relationship) RESPECT.”

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