Etikettarkiv: Wirearchy

Wirearchy vs. sociocracy

After having read the book Wirearchy: Sketches for the Future of Work I have started to think about the similarities and differences between wirearchy and sociocracy.

The first thing I notice is that wirearchy is an organizational design principle 1 while sociocracy, or rather the Sociocratic Circle-Organization Method, is a collaborative governance method 2. What I also can see is that sociocracy, as a method, supports some of wirearchy’s pillars, most notably trust 3 and the focus on results 4. One of the core values in sociocracy is transparency 5, which of course helps building trust. And the valuing of action, decisiveness, effectiveness, and focus 6 in sociocracy certainly supports the focus on results. The furthest distribution of all authority 7 in wirearchy is also well supported by the consent decision-making in sociocracy 8. I see some support for wirearchy’s credibility 9 in sociocracy – primarily through the use of the team’s collective intelligence 10 in the consent-decision making – but I don’t see any active questioning of ALL assumptions 11 in sociocracy. Assumptions behind decisions can of course be questioned in the consent decision-making, but it’s difficult to get a deeper understanding of the assumptions underlying the sociocratic principles. I have made an attempt in my article on the phenomenology (or way of seeing) in sociocracy. I have also questioned one of sociocracy’s assumptions in this post. What is clear is that the technical bias 12 is strong in sociocracy.

I wonder how a governance method would look like which fully supports the wirearchy organizing principle? It would be a wirecracy! And it would be descriptive, rather than prescriptive.

1 Jon Husband et al., The Wirearchy Commons, Wirearchy: Sketches for the Future of Work, pp. 5, 8–9, 23, 25, 43, 62.
2 What Is Sociocracy and Why Do You Need it? (Accessed March 5, 2016)
3 Jon Husband et al., The Wirearchy Commons, Wirearchy: Sketches for the Future of Work, pp. 5, 17–18, 26.
4 Ibid., pp. 6, 9.
5 Values and Sociocracy (Accessed March 5, 2016).
6 Ibid..
7 Jon Husband et al., The Wirearchy Commons, Wirearchy: Sketches for the Future of Work, p. 6.
8 Principles and Practices of Sociocracy. (Accessed March 5, 2016)
9 Jon Husband et al., The Wirearchy Commons, Wirearchy: Sketches for the Future of Work, p. 5.
10 Ibid..
11 Ibid..
12 Gerard Endenburg, Sociocracy: As social design, (Eburon,1998), p. 5.

Related posts:
Book Review: Wirearchy
The phenomenology of sociocracy
The big misconception in sociocracy
What if the organization is a living system?

Book Review: Wirearchy

Wirearchy: Sketches for the Future of Work is an ebook by the Wirearchy Commons. The persons who have contributed to the book are (in alphabetical order) Thierry de Baillon, Jon Husband, Harold Jarche, Valdis Krebs, Richard Martin, Jane McConnell, Anne-Marie McEwan, Robert Paterson, Luis Suarez, and Frederic Williquet.

Jon Husband coined the term wirearchy in 1999. Wirearchy is defined as ”dynamic flows of power and authority based on knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on generating economic and social value, enabled by interconnected people and technology” (p. 5). The pillars of wirearchy are:

  • Knowledge, which is ”freely shared” (p. 5);
  • Trust, which ”emerges through transparency and authenticity” (p. 5);
  • Credibility, which is ”earned through collective intelligence” and ”developed through active questioning of all assumptions, including our own” (pp. 5-6);
  • Value-creation, which is enabled through ”collaboration and cooperation”, including ”the furthest possible distribution of authority” (p. 6).

What I particularly like about the book is Jon Husband’s active questioning of all assumptions, including his own. He writes that ”no doubt much of what we understand and think today may be quite different in two or three years’ time than seems to be probable today” (p. 5). I also appreciate the book’s focus on wirearchy as an ”emergent organising principle” (p. 8), and not on ”solutions or methods or best practices” (p. 8). The reason is that I share 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.” I think it’s crucially important to understand why you do something, and not just how to do it. And I think this is very much related to wirearchy’s pillars, which leads me to Jon Husband’s question (see below) whether I have any recommendations on how to make the next book better. My recommendation would be to continue focusing on the principles as they emerge. This also means that it would be helpful to understand more about how the principles have emerged historically. This doesn’t mean how-tos are unimportant.

If I would give any additional advice, I would suggest reducing the number of contributors per book, and instead, give each contributor more space. I do like the different perspectives provided by each person, but I think there were too many contributors in such a short book. I look forward to the next book. The journey from hierarchy to wirearchy continues!

Below are some quotes from the book:

Adapt now or adapt later, but adapt you will have to. 1

… wirearchy is about the power and effectiveness of people working together through connection and collaboration, taking responsibility individually and collectively … 2

A principle is something that holds true across a system, and is defined to address the essence of the system – its fundamentals. 3

People have an intrinsic need to find meaning and experience community in their work. 4

… we cannot escape the fact that power-based hierarchies … are key to the dominant paradigm that prevails today … 5

The solution lies in the power of people. 6

Organizations work by their connections. 7

A better alternative to viewing a hierarchy as a pyramid, is to view it as a network! 18

Organizations need to help knowledge flow and this only happens when people are connected. 9

Mastery of a discipline is more than attending a course and taking a test. 10

Loose hierarchies and strong networks can help build a functioning wirearchy. 11

Operational skills for complex contexts include learning to ask questions, thinking critically and challenging the status quo. 12

Play is increasingly important for a whole range of reasons. … In short, play deepens friendships that give energy, courage and emotional support. 13

All along, it’s been all about a personal transformation journey. 14

The workplace of the future, the so-called future of work that everyone seems to keep talking about lately rather extensively starts off today. Not tomorrow. Not in the future, but today. 15

Change is a personal choice that begins today through … constantly nurturing your networks … while acquiring a new set of practices … 16

Merely connecting people in the old context does not work. 17

Emergence is like when a small child connects enough words and can make all the right sounds and then one day just starts talking in sentences. 18

Organizations are composed to two types of networks – prescribed and emergent. 19

Building emergent communities and informal networks is a lot like gardening. 21

Instead of focusing on … Hire and Fire, … now focus on Hire and Wire! 21

You may not yet be familiar with the term, but you are very likely already experiencing wirearchy to some degree. 22

Decision-making is influenced by wirearchy in that the traditional top-down command and control way of working is reaching its limits. 23

Teams tend to operate under loose frameworks rather than minutely detailed plans. 24

The fluidity of roles is hugely important … [People] move fluidly between them as context and circumstance requires. 25

1 Jon Husband, Wirearchy: Sketches for the Future of Work, p. 5.
2 Ibid., p. 8.
3 Ibid., p. 9.
4 Ibid., p. 12.
5 Thierry de Baillon, Ibid., p.15
6 Ibid., p.18
7 Valids Krebs, Ibid., p. 19.
8 Ibid., p. 20.
9 Harold Jarche, Ibid., p. 25.
10 Ibid., p.27.
11 Ibid..
12 Anne marie McEwan, Ibid., p. 35.
13 Ibid., p. 38.
14 Luis Suarez, Ibid., p. 39.
15 Ibid., p. 43.
16 Ibid., pp. 43–44.
17 Rob Paterson, Ibid., p. 45.
18 Ibid., p. 52.
19 Valdis Krebs & Jon Husband, Ibid., p. 56.
20 Ibid., p. 60.
21 Ibid., p. 61.
22 Jane McConnell, Ibid., p. 62.
23 Ibid., p. 66.
24 Richard Martin, Ibid., p. 71.
25 Ibid., p. 72.

Related post:
Wirearchy vs. sociocracy

On working in a connected workplace

Jon Husband has been studying the sociology of human social systems and the structures and dynamics of the organizations in which they work and play for the last 40 years. He has coined and defined the term and concept of wirearchy, which is a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority based on knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected people and technology. On Leading, Managing and Co-creating in the Connected Workplace Jon Husband writes that:

  1. Customers, employees and other stakeholders are all interconnected, and have access to most, if not all the information that everyone else has
  2. The organization chart usually reflects power and politics in the organization … more often than not, customers and employees find work-arounds to create the experiences that delight
  3. People interconnected by the Internet and software have ways of speaking to each other—and so they do that – all day long.
  4. Champion-and-Channel replaces Command-and-Control
  5. Conversations are where information is shared, knowledge is created and are the basis for getting the right things done
  6. Trust, transparency and telling the truth are the glue that holds it all together
  7. The Workplace of the Future will be more diverse—in terms of demographics, values, gender, race and language
  8. New, integrated and sophisticated technologies are being developed and implemented—and the knowledge workers of tomorrow will be more interconnected than ever
  9. We’re all in this together
  10. There’s no going back to “Normal”—Permanent Whitewater is the New Normal

Connecting to your self is the only way to go!