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.
I'll respond as if they [videos] prove capitalism is what raised the standard of living in the world. I'll even operate from the perspective that indeed it was the driving generator for this development. That in no way negates the inherent inequities of capitalism that are now the dominant drivers of its continued existence. Perhaps capitalism was a necessary good in the appropriate time and context. The question is, has that time and context passed and is it time to move into a more beneficial economic model to address the inequities [...] [like] conscious democratic business? Good capitalism is much like Loy said above about being a good slave owner. The slave's standard of living was certainly raised but they were still chattel, as is most modern day labor, despite the toys they can buy.
A possibly interesting resource.
The Capitalism Papers, by Jerry Mander.
I haven't read it yet, but I've read another book by Mander -- Paradigm Wars -- and use it in one of my classes.
Thanks, it looks like a good one. A free Google preview here.
His real name is Jerry Mander? As in gerrymander? The latter is why the regressives retained the House in the last election, despite the Dems getting more votes. It's a corrupt policy to gerrymander districts to win and retain seats as it undercuts the actual democratic vote count overall. And it's yet another sign, along with voter suppression and money = free speech, of how the regressives know they cannot win based on their policies so they will employ every dirty trick in the book to win power. The Wolves of K Street and Capitol Hill.
PS: Yes, the Dems gerrymander too, but see the link for the ratios, not at all the same as regressives.
Yeah, I think it is. I had noticed that funny similarity of his name to gerrymandering, too...
More from The Capitalism Papers, chapter 1:
"The idea that large-scale, free-market capitalism may eventually be revealed as simply a temporary, short-term experiment, appropriate perhaps for relatively brief moments of human history but now out of date, is rarely discussed openly. And the idea that capitalism is ultimately not amenable to reforms, not sustainable, inherently flawed [...] and that it may need to be abandoned in the interests of planetary survival, remains heretical to mainstream worldviews. [...] It remains ok to critique certain aspects of the system [...] but not the system itself, as if global capitalism occupies a virtually permanent existence, like a religion, a gift of God, infallible."
Welcome to IPS Mr. Mander, where that is exactly the idol addressed.
This link has another excerpt from TCP. I'll excerpt some of it below. It's reassuring to hear many of my previous forum and blog writings expressed through someone else. Bottom line: It will require us to get off our asses and work en masse to change government, and those in it, to enact these policies.
"Some aspects of capitalism could be easily reformed, if only the laissez-faire, anti-government capitalist fundamentalists weren’t depositing gifts into the pockets of legislators. Regulations could be advanced to control pollution and resource use, to prevent banking excess, to stop the buying of all politicians and government, and to promote equity.
"Theoretically, we could quickly start mitigating inequity problems. We could require that the wealthy pay taxes at the same rate as the middle class, or at 'surplus wealth' rates (graduated rates that went as high as 90 percent) that rose from the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman through Dwight Eisenhower. We could/should have 'excess profits' taxes on corporations to cover their externalized costs, or their depletion of the public-resources commons. We could ban tax havens and the many subsidized tax rates on financial transactions and inheritance. We could establish maximum and minimum guaranteed income levels. We could place controls on salary ratios within corporations. That’s all good.
"We could have better guarantees for workers’ rights and better public services for everyone—health, education, transportation, childcare, elder care. We could prevent corporations from abandoning local communities and moving to China. And we could establish a new, more realistic relationship with the natural world, one based on equality, mutual dependence, and the full acknowledgment of limits.
"Those and a hundred others ideas are all doable by relatively simple acts of Congress and the President. Many other modern countries— like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Iceland, and Japan—already enjoy many of those practices within their own versions of a kind of 'hybrid' economics, an active collaboration of capitalist and socialist visions that most of these countries call 'social democracy.' Of course, they have problems, too—some of them caused, actually, by U.S. deregulation of finance under Clinton and Bush II— but, according to friends in Europe and members of my own family who live in Scandinavia, as well as the statistics we cited in the last chapter, these countries are in far better shape than we are in terms of public satisfaction, economic balance, environmental awareness, levels of equality, quality of public discourse, freedom from ideological domination, willingness to adapt, and happiness.
"Unless there is an astonishing shift in political realities, or a massive uprising many times larger than the Occupy movement, viable changes would be incremental and politically unlikely. [...] What we can do right now is start discussing and creating alternative pathways, so we know what we agree on and what direction to start walking in. Hopefully each new path will fill with walkers and lead to others. Critical mass is the goal."
The metaphor of creating new 'paths' reminds me of this post on Bryant's idea about the gravitational vectors or paths of suobjects. In that post I discussed Rifkin's agenda being implemented with the EU as doing exactly that. But he is succeeding only to the degree that he gets governmental leaders to implement social policy which provide such paths to a different energy infrastructure. And that means walking the path of civic activism to move governments to enact such policy. The more people get active the more gravity is generated, the more such paths are trod, the more progress is made. And we are making progress by so trail blazing, as per this post and following. The capitalist meme is literally the end of the world as we know it via drastic climate change, if not in our lifetimes then in that of our children. No hyperbole, no bullshit. That is what is at stake and we can no longer ignore or deny it.
An interesting listen (on Bitcoin).
I was reading Luftig's pre-ITC conference speech and this seems the most recent, relevant thread in which to put these excerpts. You'll find many of his points and recommendations have been addressed in the forum. He'd likely find folks here to aid him in his quest if he'd but look around.
"Vision-logic is itself a choice. It’s our choice. As changemakers we privilege vision-logic, we prefer aperspectival reason to other modes of thinking that we deem less beautiful, good, and true. And when we exercise this choice we exert power. The implications are profound and political. The implications are normative.
"As integral thinkers and practitioners, our preferred attitude is scientific not political. Our preferred methods are descriptive not normative. Instead of negotiating the politics of our integral stance we neglect it. Instead of presencing the will to power our stance entails we pass over it. The question is why. Conflict avoidance. Confronting systemic power takes courage. It’s easier to work out someone else’s emancipation than our own. We orient from the Upper Left Quadrant, which makes us individualists more than collectivists, let alone activists.
"I am calling our attention to something internal: An escape into neutrality. [...] Suffice it to say that AQAL is not neutral, and neither are we. [...] Guess what happens when we self identify with an attitude of neutrality, or take solace in it? We go about our business as integral changemakers with a 'scientific attitude, over relying on the descriptive - explanatory power of integral theories while neglecting the importance of making prescriptive arguments for them. We forsake our stand for an integral future and a planetary culture, or, when we do take a stand it ends up sounding something like this: 'We refuse to choose sides in the fight between science and religion or democrat and republican. Instead we honor the partial truths of each side and we weave them together, into a wider, deeper, more integrative embrace of reality.' In other words, our stand is passive. We end up lacking adequate political consciousness. Rarely do we display normative boldness.
"We still have to get our intellectualizing right. And, boy, did we ever have it wrong back in March of 2008. [...] The AQAL integral brand and those demonstrations are criticized for being – get this: totalizing, colonizing, corporate, hegemonic, imperialist, and ideological. It’s a classic postmodern critique of modern thought and character. Of course, the critique says something about the critics, but we would be foolish to think it reveals nothing about us as AQAL - integral practitioners. With our apolitical mentality and self -professed neutrality, we were not doing justice to our integral name – we were begging to suffer the fate of a false and distorted self -image.
"Here’s a name for you: Gar Alperovitz, historian, professor of political economy, author of America Beyond Capitalism, his work stands out for seriously tackling the question, if you don’t like corporate capitalism on the one hand and you don’t like state socialism on the other, what alternative is there?"
In this thread, and in part I, and in the various references we've provided many alternatives. And it is to those alternatives that I've made a choice and commitment in seeing them implemented via political activism.
"Functional Capitalism, which is a value-systems guide to an economy designed from the Yellow and Turquoise systems, or the Second Tier of values. [...] This is the emerging Fifth MEMEnomic Cycle that is in its embryonic and introductory phases in parts of the US, Northern Europe and Germany. [...] This is the distributed intelligence of biological systems being pioneered in economics.
"Effective governance of the future has to be designed from the Yellow seventh level of values. Examples of political leaders in the US who exhibit these values are former Fed Chairman Paul Volker and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren."
I strongly disagree with this one though because it is antithetical to most everything he said above:
"An analysis is offered of the Conscious Capitalism Movement and why it holds the promise for the systemic spread of Yellow seventh-level values in business practices."
In spiral dynamic terms, I'd put conscious capitalism in the orange exit/green enter phase. It still mixes and matches them. Yes, it's better than the kind of global capitalism he criticizes but it's not yellow by a long stretch. He rightly characterizes the latter with distributed intelligence. I'd say Rifkin's economics is more green exit/yellow enter phase, whereas stable green economics would be more like the social democracies of northern Europe on the verge of yellow. Hence those countries are amenable to Rifkin's agenda. And conscious capitalists are not.