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.
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.
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).