Organizing Thoughts

Analysis of organizing orders

This is a post in my series on organizing “between and beyond.” Other posts are here. The series is inspired by David Bohm’s and F. David Peat’s notion of “the order between and beyond.”1 The purpose of this post is to summarize the analysis. I will add to this post over time.

First, a short reminder about what we are trying to do. I wrote in my 1st post in this series about an attempt to combine Agile with Sociocracy. I view this as an example of organizing “in between” and asked how an organizing “beyond,” which transcends the compromises in existing organizing “orders,” would look like?

Compiling a first list of existing organizing “orders” was straightforward. I will add to the list over time. The analysis, however, will require creative energy and time. The analysis will also trigger the writing of other posts. My aim is to summarize the conclusions in this post. I will also reflect on the journey itself as the work progresses. I have noticed, for example, that I need to be careful with my own assumptions so that I don’t jump into conclusions.

An iterative approach of questioning all assumptions takes a lot of time, but provides considerably deeper understanding and insight. This cycle never ends. There is always more to learn. The study of incompatibilities is done for the sake of understanding. It doesn’t mean that an approach is wrong, but that it is a limiting case. An example, Newtonian mechanics in physics isn’t wrong, but is a limiting case of relativity theory.

What existing organizing “orders” are there?
My 3rd post contains a list of frameworks, approaches, and conceptions. The challenge is that these are not really “orders” in a generative sense. The “deeper order” we are searching for is a “Generative Order of … actions and perceptions.”2 This order determines the “perception of the world.”3 To find the “deeper order,” we need to identify what lies behind the values and perceptions of each approach. This is a huge, if not impossible, undertaking. We have to make a selection.

What patterns are there?
One way of identifying patterns is to look at the historical development of the approaches. Some have a common history. Others don’t share a common history but are based on the same basic assumptions.

What are the historical developments, basic assumptions, and worldviews?
We can assume that the number of worldviews are fewer than the number of approaches listed. However, we cannot assume that approaches which share a common history share the same worldview.

How are the “orders” entwined within each other in ways that are basically incompatible?
See the table below. The table will be updated over time.

Organizing Idea
Assumptions Comments
CMM, PSP, TSP High process maturity produce major quality and productivity benefits.4 Personal practices are largely independent of organizational processes.5
CMM, PSP, TSP Defined processes make it possible to consistently produce quality products on predictable schedules.6 Defined processes are not appropriate for intellectually intensive work. Thinking and creativity don’t generate predictable and repeatable outputs.7
Sociocracy & Holacracy No distinction made between machines and organisms.8 Man is not a machine or a machine component.9
Holacracy A system is installed in which we no longer need to lean on our connections and relationships. Keep human values out of the organizational space.10 The danger that threatens life is the tremendous gap between those who think in terms of human values and those who think in terms of non-human systems.11
Holacracy Differentiate role and soul.12 Making a commitment is always an existential action.13
It isn’t complicated to understand and manage the dynamics of a living process. It’s all about getting a grasp on the simple and obvious and put it into action.14 Almost no group on any level can, at first, agree on what the major problems are and what has to be done. 15 Understanding and putting things into action are all but obvious.
A Process Theory of Organization Process is constitutive of the world.16 Order is arising from flow, and not vice versa.17 Order is generative.18 Active information is constitutive of the world.19


      • The CMM/CMMI and Sociocracy fit suprisingly well together.
        • The major change necessary is to make policy decisions by consent, since policy decisions by default are made by senior management in the CMMI.
        • CMMI’s general practices fulfill the requirements of the circle process in Sociocracy.
        • Policy decision-making by consent increases the belonging together between policy and processes/operations.
        • Strong hierarchical management creates a belonging together between policies/aims and processes/operations.

To be continued…

Here is the next post in the series. Here are all posts.

1 David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010-09-01, first published 1987-10-01), p. 275.
2 Ibid., p. 304.
3 Ibid..
4 Watts S. Humphrey, Managing the Software Process (SEI, 1989-01-01), p. 11.
5 Watts S. Humphrey, Three Process Perspectives: Organizations, teams, and People (Kluwer Academic Publishers, Annals of Software Engineering 14, 2002), p. 53.
6 Ibid., p. 54.
7 Ken Schwaber & Mike Beedle, Agile Software Development with Scrum (Prentice Hall, 2002), pp. 24–25.
8 Gerard Endenburg, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making (Eburon, 1998), pp. 39.
9 Ibid., p. 30.
10 Brian J. Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy (Penguin, 2015), pp. 200, 202.
11 Robert Hartman, Freedom to Live: The Robert Hartman Story, p. 124.
12 Brian J. Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy (Penguin, 2015), pp. 42–46.
13 Lasse Ramquist & Mats Eriksson, Integral Management (Lasse Ramquist AB, 2nd ed. 2009), p. 127.
14 Ibid., p. 175.
15 Ibid., p. 81.
16 Tor Hernes, A Process Theory of Organization (Oxford University Press, 2014), p. vii.
17 Ibid., p. x.
18 The generative order is primarily concerned with a deeper order out of which the manifest form of things can emerge creatively. David Bohm, F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Ruthledge, 2010, first published 1987), pp. 80, 148, 154–157, 216, 286–287.
19 The notion of active information is important in explaining the ideas of generative order. Ibid., pp. 80, 84–86.

Revision history:

Date Comments
2016-07-30 First draft published.
2016-07-31 Background and Introduction sections added. All sections updated.
2016-08-01 All sections updated.
2016-08-02 Organizing beyond updated.
2016-08-07 All sections updated. Titles changed. Table added for summary of analysis.
2016-08-08 Notes updated.
2016-08-09 Analysis of Integral Management added.
2016-08-10 Analysis updated. Notes updated. Text moved to new post.
2016-08-11 Link to the next post (synthesis) added.
2016-08-12 Notes updated.
2016-08-16 Introduction updated. Analysis of a process theory of organization added. Notes updated.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

By Jan Höglund

I share my reading, book reviews, and learning in my blog.

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