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.
Nope, at the end (around 1:11:00) Robertson reiterates that capitalism is that liberating structure as defined above. I find it rather amazing that this tension has not even been consciously recognized in holacracy, let alone processed.
In this video on the socioeconomic implications of holacracy the interviewer says in the first minute that some of Robertson's comments sound very libertarian in a right-wing liberal sort of way. It will be interesting to hear Robertson's response. To be continued.
Robertson may be wise not to stray too far into contextualizing the broader socio-economic situation. If holacracy (et al) have the capacity to change the game -- by the altering the sophistication of the collective intelligence that determines our resources allocation protocols and mutual projects -- then it must walk a tightrope. If it seems like a "wacky progressive ally of business" it may be able to gain a lot of ground before it starts to be detected as a systemic threat.
From the recorded conversation: In a discussion on discerning an organization's purpose it is different from what the individuals want it to be as their property (around 24:00). And yet that is exactly what capitalism is about, private property (including capital) governing the means of production, and that governed by top-down leaders (governors). Robertson realizes that the organizational structure of this type of governance is the problem, but he doesn't contextualize it to the broader socio-economic structure of capitalism, which is based on private property. Per the first statement above he understands that the organization is not the property of the founders or board members, yet still believes in an idealistic notion of 'free market' capitalism as a societal organizational structure.
If he see into this more deeply he'd see, like Chomsky, that Adam Smith's vision was far more like libertarian socialism, as is what Robertson describes as holacracy. He's acknowledge the 'tension' I'm describing and process it via prescribed holacratic principles and come to see that holding on to some remnant of capitalism is unconsciously reinforcing some of the very principles he claims to overcome with holacracy.
Of course this would create another very real 'tension' in that one of his biggest sponsors, Mackey's Conscious Capitalism, won't like this and will fight it tooth and nail. And perhaps even because holacracy unconsciously assumes capitalism is the best economic system it will remain unseen, as it serves as a 'market' to sell its products.
At around 26:00 Robertson discusses how our ego assumptions and projections are made transparent by holacracy and thus allows for us to overcome them. I'm suggesting that capitalism is one of those assumptions and projections that is not at all transparent. Or overcome.
At around 10:00 in the last video he notes that capitalism is great at increasing overall wealth. Sure, the Dow has hit all time highs so our overall GDP is great, but what it's not so great at creating is how that wealth is distributed. The wealthy get wealthier, the poor get poorer and the middle class is all but disappearing. That is not at all addressed.
Thereafter he goes on the note that mentally modeled political systems do not allow for the dynamic evolution of organizational structure inherent to the principles of holacracy. And yet holacracy's distributed nature that grows from the ground up, so to speak, is exactly the way distributed systems like P2P arise. And they are systems nonetheless, economic and well as organizational. So it's a bit disingenuous to claim they are not. I think it stems more though from his inexperience with political systems, especially the emerging P2P meme, which is not even mentioned and provides the socio-economic context from which his own holacractic principles arise.
In the next minutes up to around 21:00 I see where the conservative libertarian criticism is coming from. He's basically saying that no one should be forced to participate in a governmental program to help the poor, for example, through taxes. Only those with that value system should freely choose to aid the poor. I guess that would extend to paying taxes in general for the common good, like police forces and national defense?
OMG. He goes on around 22:00 to say that any natural economic system will inevitably lead to concentration of wealth. This is now getting frightening.
I was reassured some following when he clarified what he means by free markets, which he said we've never really seen. He admits we need a regulatory function but says the State is out of control with this. What he doesn't say is that the State is run by the big corporations and banks; they in many cases actually write the laws giving themselves literally a blank check. Even when he talks about monopolies he names the State and the main malefactor, not the corporation. Around 24:00 he again blames the State for having a monopoly on education, police forces and the justice system, not realizing all of those are heavily influenced if not entirely controlled by the 1%. At 25:00 he does mention that Microsoft might be guilty of a monopoly and should also be prevented from that. And at 27:00 how corporations corrupt the system by buying the State to enforce their monopolies.
What he's saying indirectly is that State capitalism is the problem. But since he associates capitalism with a free market that's never existed except in his ideal fantasy, he just can't bring himself to admit that 1) his free market ideas with holacracy is not capitalism but a version of libertarian socialism and 2) that State capitalism is capitalism. I can see why he admires Mackey.
At 28:00 he's getting really libertarian now in the bad sense. He thinks government is so inefficient at administering the commons, like the environment through taxes. Instead that tax money could go to a holacratic company who could do it so much better. It's the usual libertarian idea that business left alone does everything better. Experience has show that what business does better is make more money for themselves at the expense of everyone else. He has this magical belief that a private company run holacratically will spend our tax money better. Holacracy or not, our tax money is not to be privatized for a corporation's profit. It's the same conservative libertarian argument.
I'm also frustrated with the interviewer. He asks good questions but then let's Robertson's answer go without followup or challenge. And I'm getting tired of Robertson's obsession with his one trick pony, the answer to everything. He's in a generative encasement, not enclosure, and can't see beyond it, has to translate everything through it, and it's starting to become the equivalent of kennilingus dogma.
"I mentioned David Loys open letter entitled "Can Mindfulness Change a Corporation?" written to a board member of Goldman Sachs, and arguing that a Buddhist couldn't serve in good conscience on the boards of corporations that have been involved in unethical business practices. It was a pointed and well-stated challenge."
"I was reminded of something Krishnamurti said: 'It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.'"
Relating this back to Robertson, it seems his intent is to be involved in ethical business practices different from the capitalist norm. And he doesn't want to adjust to that sick organizational society but to change it. And yet he's still caught in the organizational structure of the capitalist ideal of free markets and invisible hands that left alone will engage in ethical practices and produce the best results if they but change to holacracy. His project goes only halfway toward the emerging P2P meme in changing individual organizations to a distributed structure, but the other half is still embedded in the societal libertarian capitalist structure. And it will ultimately undermine the rest of his project if he doesn't go all the way into something like a societal structure of libertarian and/or democratic socialism described above.
While I'm at it, I also wanted to comment on his notion that the mental models and states of the individual in the org do not matter at all. It is only what the org wants, or the org's purpose, that should be the deciding paradigm. All of which will arise organically and spontaneously if we but follow the holacratic processes.
So one working therein theoretically could be a socialist or a capitalist, or even an environmental hating, climate science denying conservative and the org's purpose and structure will override all that. It strikes me all more than a bit naive that just following the holacratic format will somehow balance all those contradictory views. And no, not all partially true and included. I can see how an org can have its own autonomy but it certainly feeds back and forth from those who participate within it, and both are changed in that process.
What I'm suggesting is that even while Robertson claims he is just one cog in this machine I have to call bullshit. He is a dominating factor in the design of the holacratic model and its implementation. And one of the strongest underlying gravitational attractors within it is this notion of libertarian capitalism at the core of holacracy. Hence it is designed into the org's structure, purpose and autonomy. It goes completely unrecognized because of this belief that it emerged organically on its own and is therefore a natural outcome of natural processes beyond the human. Hence anyone who works there and is a socialist, or even a climate-changer denier, will be self-selected out of the org, or kicked out for not being a proper fit.
I'd really be curious to hear from those working inside if these sort of issues every came up in one of their 'tension' processes.
The political aesthetics of postcapitalism:
The god Ka$h is a jealous god:
But the possibility of rising above the archaic is not quite dead yet:
And, one of the best refutations of theism i've come across:
As far as the construction of words into ideas on this subject. But, i can't help but wonder if words would fail this guy if he 'saw' the angels worshipping god. Not that the angels know what god is……..