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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Thanks for the link David. I would think that it's going to be quite humbling (especially to the educational academies) when they look back ( if they are able to) and see that their economic and energy supply departments ended up being such abject failures ( or at least so inconceivably wrong about how complex ecologies work). But like JMG, I'm probably just a retro-romantic naysayer; albeit one who thinks Kenny's theorizing about reincarnation in excerpt 'G' is right on the money. 

A camp fire in the year 2112: " it's hard to imagine that they thought black tar was the solution to their energy needs." " well, thank god they intuited that they were irresponsible enough and stopped their fission experiments other wise we wouldn't be here at all." " can you believe that they thought the monetization of everything was a good idea!" " that's what happens when you give up putting other peoples needs before your own and turn greed and selfishness into virtues!" " what did they think would happen?"

Okay, not everyone is sleeping in the academies! Intelligent design! Who would have thought?

Good find Andrew.  Looks worth reading.  However, I'm always disappointed when I see another academic document on sustainable design that does not reference what I feel is an essential text (and essentially compatible with integral thinking):  Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, by David Holmgren

2 thumbs up to Holmgren, David! Towns should be reworked using some of those principles ; indeed I know there are places where these ideas are being implemented to some degree. 

A note on the academy: it's obvious that the counter culture protests that came out of the universities led to the neoliberalization of these institutes. This is what these academies now promote with that move:

The academies should be in and of themselves exemplars of the best that humanity could think of instead of being propaganda shills for global neoliberalism. It's phoney -as N. Klein  has pointed out - and to use UBC as an example; to privatize education for profit using fossil fuel hedge funds for capital,  and then stick a sign up on the walkway that says commons. I mean who are they kidding? Everything about these academies should be about finding sustainable ecologies within their own borders. In other words, they should be the leading edge towns and villages for the question of how we should live! And as wrong as Islam is, we shouldn't be using our culture to brutally punish theirs; while not being naive about reverse imperialism. 

I want to touch on Pogeny's GS3 move which is obviously Rifkin's 3rd also. He outlines a global scenario that I quite agree needs to happen with this strong caveat: it can't be implemented by the PCMIC neoliberal actors of the present GS2. That indeed is Illuminati conspiracy fodder and it is so plain to see that that is the group at this time trying to implement their version of GS3. Hopefully a more Integral group can challenge the present actors and implement a non toxic form of global governance. 

Andrew, right, and Pogany would agree. Some statements from his book, Rethinking the World:

"We cannot envisage GS3 (Global System 3) as effective unless it features socioeconomic stability and individual freedom, a multiplicity of voices and critiques of all stripes. As postmodern psychoanalysis demonstrated, perfect unity of thought is pathological. It signifies obsessive mania in the individual and totalitarianism in society." (p. 257)

"Strong multilateralism is not the rule of a Pontificus Dominus (Kim Jon Il gone global), disguised as an overworked, kindhearted UN Secretary General. It implies an institutional framework for pro-active international cooperation and coordination. Even the replacement of "conspicuous consumption" with "conspicuous altruism" will not turn humans into termites." (p. 267)

"Local, cantonal activities to safeguard and enhance living standards will probably gain in importance at the expense of the competitive cross-hauling of near perfect substitutes and the global franchise. (Good-bye expensive milky slush of stretched coffee beans; so long cheap, health-sapping mystery-meat patties from the assembly line." (p. 268)

"Get comfortable. No one wants to see the individual turn into a faceless, genderless global communard living in glassy falansters, unable to tell where his or her organism ends and where its cybernetic prolongation begins. Take a deep breath and imagine life without multitasking, touch-and-go aggressiveness, all the human-made traps for reciprocal deceptions and self-deceptions." (p. 268)

Pogany's vision of GS3 is a two-level economy with strong multilateralism. This means a strongly regulated world economy in regards to key resources, and less regulated regional economies. This seems somewhat akin to what Edgar Morin means when he says "we must globalize and we must deglobalize."

In order to have the capacity to accomplish this, "the representative brain will have to reprogram itself in a big way." (p. 269) And for that to happen, "the world will have to be shocked out of its classical cultural evolutionary mode...[that will force humankind to] look in the mirror and ask itself "Am I out of my mind?"" (p. 275)

andrew said:

I want to touch on Pogeny's GS3 move which is obviously Rifkin's 3rd also. He outlines a global scenario that I quite agree needs to happen with this strong caveat: it can't be implemented by the PCMIC neoliberal actors of the present GS2. That indeed is Illuminati conspiracy fodder and it is so plain to see that that is the group at this time trying to implement their version of GS3. Hopefully a more Integral group can challenge the present actors and implement a non toxic form of global governance. 

We've talked quite a bit about holocracy in this 2-part thread. Here's a recent article on it that claims that despite holocracy's claims it is entirely hierarchical. Therein is a discussion of Koestler and Wilber on the topic. Main complaint is a common refrain re: kennilingus, that it is basically a top-down, command and control organizational structure based on ideology.

Has there been a discussion here that has compared and contrasted sociocracy with holocracy?

Not that I recall, and I've followed the thread pretty closely.

Maher's new rule on socialism. America did best under socialist programs, and income inequality is a direct outcome of capitalism. Maher explains it best with humor.

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