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?


First some housekeeping in providing links in part I to comments on holacracy: their website, comment 1, comment 2, comment 3 (and 3 more on p. 7), and the first 7 comments on p. 8

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 authoritythe 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.


(comment pending)

This is an interesting moment. Apparently 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.


(comment pending)

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Conscious Crapitalism, Corbett's latest at Integral World and relevant to many of the themes in this thread and the forum generally.

I was re-reading some posts from the older Religion and Politics thread. This one and a few following posts are relevant here.

Balder: I picked The Listening Self back up from the library and I'm reading the relevant sections.  I think you would appreciate them -- he's talking about Merleau-Ponty's intertwining in relation to the body politic, schemas, Marcuse, Foucault (whom he praises for his inclusion of the "body" in political thinking, but criticizes for having too narrow a vision of body and not adequately conceiving of the "lived body"), Lacan, Habermas (whose communicative praxis he embraces, but whom he criticizes for too shallow a conception of self), etc. [...] this evening I thought I'd at least share a section of The Listening Self that includes Levin's political reflections.  I've scanned the relevant pages and have saved it in Google docs, which you can view here.

Me: I only had time to read a few paragraphs this morning but a couple of things stood out. He argues for a new form of subjectivity, much like we're seeing in other posts above. And that narcissism is a necessary stage in development but that we need to now go beyond it into empathy, another common theme.

Balder: Yes, in this section, his is discussing what he calls "Stage III" work or practices of the Self.  He's basing his work here primarily on Merleau Ponty's notion of intertwining, and is appealing to a deepened embodied sensibility as a basis for a more empathic, participatory political order.  In relation to Dawid's recent thread on the role of brain structure in political ideology, he's suggesting that the body's "primordial" schemas, when reclaimed via Stage III work, can be seen to support certain (empathic) forms of political order over others.  Like Rifkin, he rejects as inadequate those earlier psychoanalytic views that saw the body as a "riot of drives."  His approach, here, for cultivating (empathic) sensibility of intertwining and reversibility is "Listening" as a Practice of the Self and an important complement to Habermas' communicative praxis.

Me: I like the Foucault quote in the beginning about not choosing a predetermined political position but imagining and enacting new ones, like we get with Rifkin’s and Bauwens’ P2P.

I also like the idea that we have inherent, pre-rational, embodied schemas (apparently much akin to L&J’s image schemas) to which we must return so as to “appropriately cultivate” (171), in which process we become trans-rational (if trans is the right prefix).

And of course one of my common themes is herein reiterated:

“Only some forms of social organization, only some bodies politic, represent genuinely harmonious developments of the reversibility-structure already schematized in and by the flesh. Since this reversibility-structure inherently deconstructs and contests the ultimacy of the ego-logical identity, and since bourgeois capitalism, more than any other social system, honors and promotes the rule of the ego…it may be fairly concluded that capitalism cannot be counted among those ideal bodies politic most favorable to the harmonious development of the sociability and rationality-potential inherent in our initial corporeal schematism” (180).

The last paragraph above goes along with my contention that what capitalism has become via a dysfunctional individualism is a regression into false reason. Both can of course be, and have been, healthy with real reason, but no longer.

As an aside, I used Levin in the fold thread on his 'reversibility' structure.

Zak Stein blogged another section of his upcoming ITC paper, this one a familiar refrain of late in the forum. (For a few, at least. I guess Stein has joined the MGM conspiracy against capitalism.) "The Invisible Infrastructures That Shape Our Lives and Why Social Justice Demands They Be Made Visible." Some excerpts:

"Because of standards enforced by labor contracts in factories in China, as well as inaccuracies in measures of raw material’s toxicity levels, whole populations are being poisoned and exploited, and its all being done by the book. That is, industry standards and scientific measurements are being used, often very carefully, yet their very use sanctions and legitimizes injustices—this is a very civilized form of barbarism (Harvey, 2005)."

"The claim of scientific expertise (and the display of accompanying technologies) which back large-scale measurement practices often contributes the anti-democratic ethos that surrounds the world of international standards and measurement (Busch, 2011)."

"As I will explain, the history of measurement has been a history in which the privileged and empowered have been the creators and institutionalizers, while the oppressed and powerless have had no choice but to use their master’s tools and definitions of reality (Kula, 1986; Scott, 1998). This is a pattern that continues to this day, perhaps best exemplified by current trends in educational 'reform.'"

Hi t - thanks for posting this.

I find myself nodding to what he has said.

Could you please elaborate on why you characterize in this way, "the MGM conspiracy against capitalism".

It was a snide remark referencing how a kennlinguist in FB characterized legitimate criticism against capitalist structure this way.

Ah, sarcasm - meaning, no way was that an MGM conspiracy against capitalism. Got it. Thx.

An interesting Brief History of Capitalism by Scott Preston. Preston is a Gebsarian, and moreso a follower of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, a "post-Nietzschean religious thinker" who specialized in a focus on "speech and language as the dominant shaper of human character and abilities in every social context."

Preston traces capitalism back to the mythological structure of consciousness: 

The mythological consciousness structure, in other words, still works its way through us despite ourselves. That’s the meaning of Freud and Jung, in fact. We did not really “invent” the contemporary ideologies. We were, in effect, invented by them. I think it was Andrew Greeley or Joseph Campbell who once quipped that “the modern-day incarnation of Oedipus stands on a street corner waiting for the walk light to turn green” — or Electra, for that matter.

 ... But the point is (and this set the precedent for the mental-rational consciousness), their implicit geneaology remained intact. They were offspring of the mythological and the magical consciousness structure. By simply re-baptising and re-naming them, Plato preserved a certain degree of continuity with the past.

In those terms, “ideologies” are really the corpses of dead gods — or only partially “dead”. For every “-ism” is, in fact, a disguise for a god (or a Zoa).

This is also true of “capitalism”. The president of Goldman Sachs still insists that capitalism is “doing God’s work” and is not, as some have called his corporation, “a bloodsucking vampire squid”.

Oh, it's also a blood-sucking vampire squid too, a child of Cthulhu.

From this article by Gar Alperovitz. Actual democracy, imagine that. That this sort of thing only gets press in Aljazeera says a lot about our media outlets.

"Long-term structural shifts in the political economy have rendered the program of regulation and reform more or less inoperative. [...] Any real change will require not just regulatory redistribution, but a fundamental shift in the dynamics of wealth accumulation. [...] If we want an economy that delivers democratic rather than plutocratic outcomes — we need to democratize the economy."

"But this idea that we urgently need to democratize ownership of the economy is not really all that 'radical' in the normal sense. It does not reject all private ownership; it merely demands that more people share in it, and that the public undertake new ownership strategies. [...] These and other kinds of public enterprises, designed to be owned democratically by the nation as a whole, would not aim simply to regulate the consequences of the profit-maximizing behavior of corporations — they would aim to displace them."

"[W]orker ownership, including worker cooperatives, can and should be encouraged through federal policy initiatives. At the local level in the 'laboratories of democracy,' this kind of shift —toward models for economic development that prioritize democratic cooperative and community ownership — is already well under way and picking up steam."

Did you listen to the interview with Alperovitz?  Replay expires 2 hours from now, at 11:00AM Pacific on 5/23/15.

I did not get a chance to listen to it before the expiration? Did you? If so, a summary?

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