Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
For an introduction to this expanding meta-thread see Integral Anti-Capitalism pt I. We continue here because we have, hilariously, exceeded this website's capacity...
I agree that holacracy should be singled out for special investigation. The provocative notion that we are dramatically over-emphasizing the need for "conscious leadership" pertains very pertinently to this discussion. Robertson, like ourselves, is pointing to the fact that business (organizations) which integrally improve the interiors and cultural
spirit of their participants are still predisposed to certain outcomes as a result of their actual structural habits of communication and their specific decision-making protocols.
His notion of a constantly self-correcting dynamic organization drawing upon the capacity of individuals to act as tension-sensors relative to the "evolutionary purpose" of the organization is compelling and admirable.
More important is simply that he is making a stand and making an attempt to construct a protocol (constitution). I am not fully versed in the 4.0 version of the holacracy constitution but we should get deeper into some of these proposals.
Given the level of your current knowledge of their protocols, what would you want to change or add in order to ethically and functionally empower this approach even more?
I’m not yet familiar enough with holacracy to know it might need. So for now I’ll ask questions. From p. 8 there was a blog post on ownership and the model might (but not necessarily) include outside capital investors. I asked:
“One question immediately pops up on outside investors. Are there limits on the amount of outside capital investment? What if their investment is such that without it the company could not financially survive? And/or depends on it for start-up? Then such investment would control the company, like it or not. If you don't do what I say I'm taking my ball and going home. No ball, no ballgame. Not the same as a mortgage or loan company.”
Granted why such investors are included on the Board there are other stake-holders to balance their input. But are there rules about which outside individuals or companies can invest? Do they have to have similar values like triple bottom lines instead of just profit for their investors? Can a Goldman Sachs provide start-up capital? Or Romeny’s ex-firm, Bain? Just wondering, so perhaps it’s time for those out there more familiar with the system to engage us?
I appreciate your inquiry about the potential influence of outside investors in holacratic systems. Perhaps they have a good protocol for that. Or perhaps not. In general, all "smart groups" need to comprehend and anticipate the distortion influence that donors and enablers wield. The psychology of human nature shows that we may believe ourselves to be quite sturdy and impartial while we are really bending in the breeze.
One of the concerns I had while perusing the holacracy constitution was about the voting procedure for filling roles. There are many parts of their approach which impress. In particular I would like to make not of the necessity to place constraints upon discussion. When the mention of a concern is met with the mention of counter-concerns then the intelligence and practical efficacy of discussions drops dramatically. A highly suspicious mind might even supposed that the human hive is encouraged to engage in the constant casual usage of dysfunctional conversation. So their use of controlled phases in both operational and hiring decisions is admirable. However, their actual voting protocol seems (to my naive glance) to be based on a model of transparent majority. A sophisticated "show of hands".
So this may be an area in which holacratic principles can be expanded to include a more thorough use of "secret ballot" and "averaged ranking".
The former often seems like a show of bad faith and an invitation to covert dangers... but these are considerably outweighed by the liberation of individual intelligence from any conscious or unconscious concerns about the social consequences of their input.
The latter evades a primitive "first past the post" approach in which our intelligence is functionally limited to a yes/no determination about each candidate relative to other candidates.
Another thing I admire about holacracy is that it represents a functional procedure and culture in which participants would appear to become better participants by participating. Their capacity and ethical commitment to the good of the organization through its evolving protocols should be an increasing trend. Any smart group needs to be arranged so that even people who try to distort the results will find their capacity and will to do this reducing over time. Replaced by the inspirational efficacy of the group.
This brings me to another issue relative to voting, both in political and economic groups. That is the relative absence of specific instructions about how to translated ones feelings into a vote-mark. This is almost completely unaddressed in terms of popular elections. To discuss it even seems insidious to some people who fear coercion (and/or wish to maintain the current material power structures).
Protocols should have at least a clear suggestion about how to locate both "gut" and "intellectual" data within ourselves and convert that into a numerical value which can be contributed to a group decision. A lack of clarification at this critical junction may act as an invisible source of drag upon an otherwise very functional group organism.
It might even be possible to define an "integral-level organizational set up" for business or politics by simply compiling a list of areas in which intelligence and capacity are distorted. We might recall that most of Wilber's philosophy has emerged in levels correlated to his discovery of "fallacies" or "basic errors". Integral proposals about business and society could be all over the map unless there is a reasonable set of constraints that make sure they fall in the most lucrative zone.
So other than the potential influence of outside "helpers" and "donors" what other sources of distortion or inhibition do you see going mostly unaddressed in otherwise progressive groups?
My next question of holacracy is who came up with it? It seems to be the pet project of Brian Robertson, his own brainchild. I'm wondering if that is so of if it was a community or P2P project? I mean, the structure of holacracy itself calls for distributed decision-making but was the creation of holacracy itself derived from this process or mostly dictated by Robertson? I've yet to find an answer at the site so I posed this question to them via contact info. I'll provide the response if/when received. I think the answer is pivotal in determining if this thing called holacracy arose from its own medicine.
I look forward that answer if it is forthcoming. The notion of self-arising systems is something which haunts the periphery of these discussions. My fantasy is that we can devise a group protocol which so reliably and simply exceeds the cognitive capacity of the individual participants that it would be foolish to predetermine the purpose and nature of the group. Collectively we could a better job of determining what kind of a collective we should be. "Smartgroups" of this kind could then spread through the world in a very radical social uprising. How possible that is remains uncertain...
As I understand holacracy, the different companies making use of it are assumed to engage in their own mutational modifications of the "constitution". So even if Brian wrote the whole thing out in his bathtub it still retains an open source quality. The answer to whether its current forms are or are not the result of distributed decision-making is almost certainly: sort of.
One of the reasons the holacracy approach is so amenable to business organization is that it seems to depend upon the functional axis of a specified purpose. The aim is somewhat pregiven -- our job is to sell widgets or maximize share-holder profit, etc. His use of the metaphor of the sensors on an airplane derives from a mechanism that is assumed to be designed for a well-known purpose.
My question would be whether or not this "aim" is a necessarily functional element in generating enhanced organizational capacity? Or whether it is simply an artifact of the need to make these systems serve a relatively conventional marketplace task?
Your suggestion of a smart group that arises creatively from a continually evolving set of parameters seems to be the intent and practice of holacracy. As to the organizational purpose of Holacracy One, it seems to have multiple bottom lines including but not limited to profit. For example, see this post in the comments where I noted that the top to bottom pay ratio is 3 to 1, and quoted some of those multiple purposes:
"With Holacracy at play, the game is entirely different: with the decentralization of authority, the separation of people and role, and the dynamic evolution of those roles, we end up with a situation that looks more like free agents going about their work with no central planning. There might not even be a single person who knows about everything you do."
This sounds much more like the sort of emerging P2P organizational structure discussed throughout this thread. And also of significance in the post following this article where The Integral Center of Boulder has "voluntarily relinquished their rights to control their company as owners. Instead, they have ceded authority to a purpose-centered governance process called Holacracy, a model that distributes authority across the organization and gives primary power to the organization itself."
These are indeed advances over the kind of conscious capitalism promoted and AQALly packaged for sale at I-I.
This is an interesting moment. Apparently Amazon.com is experimenting with a version of holacracy as well. It clearly represents a theoretical advance over the typical kind of conscious capitalism which combines advanced sentiments with a potentially dangerous and uninspected ideological allegiance to more primitive routines of social organization and wealth production. Yet we cannot know the results of the experiment in advance.
I have tremendous optimism about emergent p2p organizational structures. Experimentation is utterly necessary and should be strongly encouraged. I am also very hopeful that advances can be made in terms of quantification. This is very central in my thinking lately.
It seems that experimental protocols for advances social organization systems suffer from the lack of a quantifiable evaluation of their respective degrees of "collective intelligence". Most people are drawn to such possibilities by ethical and aesthetic criteria which do no necessarily persuade the world. So I would love to see experimentation supplemented by the attempt to devise a metric for estimating the intelligence of a social organization protocol.
Along similar lines, my "tetrabucks" type notions represent the possibility/necessity to structure our currency at a level that correlates to advanced P2P organizational structures and post-pluralistic consciousness.
The potential of an evil holacracy has hardly been broached. If it works -- it works. Other than simply the tendency of less complex people not to use more complex systems, and the tendency of more complex systems to complexify their participants, there needs to be some inter-organizational structures which incline all organizations int he direction of broad human well-being. It is my assertion that as long as primary areas of value remain outside monetization the actions of groups trying to utilize official social credits will constantly become unstable.
So I am imagining a line leading from pathological capitalism to standard capitalism to conscious capitalism to trans-capitalist network organizations to such organizations bound together by a integrated set of metrics for determining the intelligence of groups and splicing together (at least) four broad domains of human value.
Along these lines -- how will we decide whether holacratic integral business is working better?
As to how we determine whether alternative economic paradigms are 'working,' I'd suggest that even by the standards of typical business democratic workplaces like co-ops are successful. If by that we mean the organization runs smoothly, has low employee turnover, high employee satisfaction, makes a profit or surplus over operating costs, and other such typical measures. Plus they fulfill their stated purposes as expressed in theRochdale principles, like community education, cooperation, democratic control, etc.
I'd say the same applies to holacracy. They also have to accomplish the usual business parameters like above but also meet stated principles like in their constitution. Given Robertson's business acumen I'm sure at the site he has precise and measurable indices to track such progress, though I didn't try to find them as yet.
by Vera Bradova
"We can refuse to participate in a dead society gone shopping."
— Joe Bageant
Once we understand what feeds it, it becomes possible to think of stopping the Machine. I puzzled over this one for a long time, only to suddenly grok the obvious: the fodder for the Machine is our precious life energy!
So then. Deny it its coveted fuel: your effort, your attention and interest, your money, your loyalty, your goodwill and your good ideas. Deny it your streams of energy, one by one. Direct them instead to the Lifeworld. And don’t shout it from the rooftops! Just blend discreetly into one of the various subcultures experimenting nowadays with a saner way of life; the minions and guardians of the Machine will never even notice you.
This is the crux. Any machine can withstand tinkering, but no machine can run without fuel. Like an old mill on a dry riverbed, it will become a relic of a past that’s done with, a useless hunk of debris. Our radical withdrawal will be the end of the Machine.
Here are some of the ways of seceding from Babylon... (More here)
From Riane Eisler's The Chalice and the Blade:
"In that classic Marxist work, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, Friedrich Engels was one of the first to link the emergence of hierarchies and social stratification based on private property with male domination over women" (45).
Thus the partnership societies of old Europe (chalice) were invaded and conquered by the warriors from the north and south (blade), and with it hierarchical relationships that led to slavery, private property and domination. Capitalism is a direct outgrowth of this dominator culture, which unconsciously infects to this day the sorts of hierarchical models we continue to use in the name of evolution. Wilber even has a term for it: dominator hierarchy. Unfortunately he doesn't seem aware how his own hierarchical model is unconsciously affected by this inherent cultural bias via capitalism and private property.
I'm pretty sure Wilber borrowed the term "dominator hierarchy" from Eisler. I don't know that there is much disagreement between them conceptually, as even Eisler is careful to point out that she is critiquing dominator hierarchies, and not the concept of hierarchy in general.*
I think the difference is, as you point out, that Wilber seems to consistently display a cultural bias favoring capitalism and private property, and feels that we can overcome dominator hierarchy while retaining these frameworks.
* From Eisler and Montouri's The Partnership Way.org: "However, and this is a critical point about the partnership model that we have repeatedly emphasized in consulting for business and government, the change towards flatter organizations should not lead us to believe that hierarchy itself is outdated or only found in dominator systems, and that we should now completely abolish hierarchies of any kind. We have to be careful not to engage in oppositional thinking, and immediately reject any concept or practice associated with the dominator system in favor of its exact opposite. As noted earlier, Eisler specifically differentiates between hierarchies of domination, which are driven by the desire to control and oppress, and hierarchies of actualization, which support a greater unfolding of potential."
If you look at the prominent writers who have promoted "web of life" and other more networked structures that have come to the fore via systems thinking, I haven't found any of them who deny that hierarchies exist in nature as well. PatternDynamics includes Hierarchy, Network, and Holarchy all as natural dynamic patterns that exist in all systems. The issue then becomes how to express these patterns in a healthy way, and how to balance and integrate them depending on the situation and context.
I am of the opinion that regardless of value judgments, a) an emphasis on hierarchies was to be expected during the period of energy abundance that we've had the last two hundred years, as an expression of Howard Odum's Maximum Power Principle; and b) as we enter the age of declining available energy, the best way to maximize power is to share it in mutually supportive networks. Mutual support and reciprocity with no waste and no greed is the new mechanism to survive and thrive.
As you may or not know, I do not reject hierarchy per se, just a certain kind. I went into this in detail in a few threads, like real/false reason and the fold. Dominator hierarchies are based in the same metaphysical premises as capitalism, both arising from what Lakoff calls false reason, or Gebser calls deficient rationality.
Eisler's partnership model expresses healthy hierarchy/heterarchy with real reason. Note that her partnership societies are gender equitable, as well as in/out, one/many balanced. Male-dominated societies are not gender equitable and arise from the unbalanced sort of metaphysical dominator hierarchies. What you call "mutually supportive networks" is that sort of partnership balance. As is the emerging new Commons beyond capitalism and private property.
To the extent kennilingus holds on to capitalism, even conscious capitalism, is the extent to which it participates in a dominator hierarchy. And quite a few in the broader integral movement have noticed this.
I'd mentioned somewhere that I was reading Eisler's The Real Wealth of Nations. I've attached this document that summarizes the chapters.
From chapter two:
Opposing Economic Societal Structures
The domination system allows only for dominating or being dominated. Hierarchies of domination result in scarce trust, high tension, and system cohesiveness based on fear and force. Leaders control and disempower. To succeed, a domination system suppresses caring and empathy.
In contrast, a partnership system supports mutually respectful and caring relations. Hierarchies of actualization allow for accountability, bi-directional respect, and input from all levels. Leaders facilitate, inspire, and empower. Economic policies and practices support needs: basic survival, community, creativity, meaning and caring – the realization of highest human potentials.
No society is pure partnership or domination system – it’s always a matter of degree. The top-down domination system is a holdover from earlier feudal and monarchic times.
I thought I had edited this post to note that the excerpt was taken from Planetary Culture and the Crisis of the Future.
Yes, very good. And I was just looking at this this morning. I don't remember which Montouri book/essay this screenshot comes from.
Eisler from "Beyond capitalism and socialism":
"The ultimate goal of economic policy should not be the level of monetary income per person, but developing the human capabilities of each person."
Nice. And here is Eisler from chapter 12 of The Chalice and the Blade (p. 173):
Thus, although a rigidly hierarchical social structure like androcracy [man rule], which imprisons both halves of humanity in inflexible and circumscribed roles, is quite appropriate for species of very limited capacity like social insects, it is truly inappropriate for humans. And at this juncture in our technological evolution, it may also be fatal.
Excellent comparison, androcracy being evolutionarily equivalent to insects. I thought I was being harsh comparing it to feudalism or calling it regressive.