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Agile Organizing Sociocracy Thoughts

Organizing in between and beyond

This is the first post in my series on organizing “between and beyond.” Other posts are here.

The last chapter in Science, Order, and Creativity by David Bohm and F. David Peat is about “the order between and beyond”.1 Bohm and Peat write that most attempts to find order, say a new theory, involve searching for a position between two theories.2 Physics faced this situation at the end of the 19th century when it was discovered that Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory didn’t accord with Newton’s classical mechanics. At first physicists tried to make the theories fit together in an order “between.”3 It wasn’t until Einstein developed his theories of relativity that an order “beyond” was discovered. Today, there’s a search for an order “beyond” Einstein’s theories of relativity and quantum mechanics.

My point is that there’s a similar need to search for an order “beyond” our traditional ways of organizing work. Many different approaches have been developed over the years. They all have different names — e.g., Lean, Agile, Holacracy, etc — and are often accompanied with a whole industry offering tools, training, consulting, certification, and other products and services. The problem, as I see it, is that most of these approaches are examples of what I would call organizing “in between.”

A recent example is the attempt to combine Agile with Sociocracy. This is said to be “a way to create alignment between Agile ecosystems and the business needs of strong leadership and a clear hierarchy.”4 Well, maybe? I have questioned the assumptions here. Neither Agile, nor Sociocracy, can be said to be totally satisfying. And I don’t think that the solution lies in combining strong hierarchical leadership with sociocratic participatory policy decision-making. This is, in my view, an example of organizing “in between.” What is necessary is to move to an organizing “beyond,” which transcends, in this case, the compromise between strong hierarchical leadership and sociocratic decision making on policies.

I don’t know how the organizing “beyond” looks like. What I do know is that it will contain both leadership and decision making, yet move “beyond” the limits of both. My search for better ways of working together continues.

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

Notes:
1 David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010-09-01, first published 1987-10-01), pp. 275–314.
2 Ibid., p. 308.
3 Ibid..
4 Pieter van der Meché, Jens Coldewey, Hendrik Esser, and Anders Ivarsson (contributor), Decision Making Systems Matter (The Agile Alliance, 2016), p. 1 (accessed 2016-07-20).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts
Is sociocracy agile?

By Jan Höglund

I have 40 years of experience in different roles as software developer, project manager, line manager, consultant, and researcher. I share my reading, book reviews, and learning on my personal blog.
Copyright Jan Höglund © 2012-2022. All Rights Reserved.

3 replies on “Organizing in between and beyond”

There is a tendency among people to seek prescriptive formulas that serve their needs, whilst at the same time, to rail against those formulas they previously bought in to in the belief that somehow this would lead to reward. In the journey on the path of “organizing beyond” (as you call it) we are all called to consider each case on it’s own merit, each situation according to it’s own circumstance and to grow our capacity to collaborate more effectively, respectfully and creatively in each moment. No, tool, method, practice or body of principles will suffice without the artful synthesis of those who consider them and who adapt them according to specific need. In the end it comes down to artful collaboration and whilst the options are infinite, practice begins with us, today. Each situation will reveal something unique that can only be addressed in real time. Perhaps now is the hour and we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Yes, our beliefs impact our capacity to collaborate more effectively, respectfully and creatively in the moment. Sociocracy 3.0 is, in my view, an example of “organizing in between” sociocracy, Holacracy, Agile, and Lean. I believe that it’s necessary to move to an “organizing beyond” sociocracy. Here is, for example, why I think sociocracy is both right and wrong.

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