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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Robert Reich's petition to reject the TPP:

"The Trans Pacific Partnership is a travesty. It would make it more difficult to improve health, safety, environmental, investors, and labor protections in the U.S. and in every nation that signs it, and make it easier to outsource labor abroad. Yet the TPP is still moving forward. Congress will vote on it after the November elections. And here's the really infuriating thing: Even though Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are both against it, the committee that's drafting the Democratic platform voted against a provision rejecting it. Please join me in adding your name to my petition asking the full Democratic Platform Committee to do the right thing, and reject the TPP."

I hope his petition gains traction. The TPP needs to be rejected.  I know it's wonky to pay too much attention to trade bills, but this stinker needs our attention and action. At least that's my one sided perspective, blah blah blah. :)

Also see this post and a few following, relevant to this thread as well.

From Bhaskar, R. Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom (Routledge, 2008):

"Bhaskar's own work was very much devoted to moving beyond that logic [of late capitalism] [...] and remained committed to a (libertarian) form of revolutionary socialism" (xviii).

Here's more, which sounds a lot like the libertarian socialism of the collaborative commons:

"Actually existing socialism failed in part because it did not deign to consider that the immediate producers and consumers, rather than the party managers, might know best how to tackle, both collectively and through socialized markets, questions of technological innovation, incentive, production, distribution and exchange under socialism" (343).

Speaking of which, a reminder of Joe Corbett's "Libertarian eco-socialism."

Some excerpts from Bhaskar in Reclaiming Reality (Routledge 2011). It is in chapter one called "Critical realism, social relations and arguing for socialism." It ain't no form of capitalism.

"We need to take philosophy seriously because it is the discipline that has traditionally underwritten both what constitutes science and knowledge and which political practices are deemed relevant" (1).

"Thus if we accept Marx’s critique of political economy, which is also a critique of the illusory or false consciousness which capitalist society generates, we may - indeed must - pass immediately to a negative evaluation of those structures and to a positive evaluation of action rationally directed to changing them" (5).


"From the critical realist perspective, contrary to the tradition of contemporary social democracy, socialist emancipation depends on the transformation of structures, not the amelioration of states of affairs. [...] But this transformation [...] consists in the move or transition from unneeded, unwanted and oppressive to needed, wanted and empowering sources of determination. This might include, for example, a switch from a situation where production is determined by the pursuit of private profit and subject to arbitrary fluctuation, to one where it is subject to democratic negotiation and planning" (6).

"Philosophies can confuse as well as enlighten. Two crude philosophical distinctions, between mind and body and reasons and causes, have done untold damage here. [...] Related to the crude dichotomy of nature and society is a crude distinction between basic, bodily (physical) or natural needs such as for food or housing, and higher-order psychological (mental) or spiritual needs such as for respect or self-development. These latter needs are not the object of a separate set of practices, but are intrinsic to the way so-called basic needs are met" (6-7).

And as to the issue of the relationship of individual consciousness to social structure (and tetra-arising), more from the above citation:

"On the relational view a person’s individuality is primarily constituted by his or her social particularity. In other words, what they are is mainly a product of what they have done or what has been done to them in the particular social relations into which they were born and in which they have lived. What they do or have done to them must be understood in terms of their historically and socially conditioned capacities, powers, liabilities and tendencies.

"The task of socialists must be to work for the development and release of our underdeveloped and repressed capacities and for the transformation and dissolution of existing oppressive and repressive tendencies. It must also be to struggle for the social and natural (e.g. environmental) conditions for their fulfilment or transformation. These capacities and tendencies, as the Marxist and socialist tradition has correctly stressed, are inherently social" (7).

Thanks for sharing Bhaskar quotes.  It would be nice to follow this with similar material from Morin, representing "Complex Thought," in the interest of the "Complex Integral Realism" integration project.  But I haven't the time for that right now. 

The rest of the chapter echos some of the work done in this and the real/false reason threads. "Individualism is a pretty pure ideology of the market, at least as we have it now" (8). Collectivism is also captured by the market ideology in both conservative and liberal forms. Both are based in a reductionist ontological empiricism that sees individuals as isolated from objectified facts that act upon them, a fetishsized "objective mystification" (9). Bhaskar calls this a form of false reasoning and illusion. (I've noted the same about how the model of hierarchical complexity is also embedded in this ideology that generates both it and capitalism.) 

The great value shift of our time. See this article and the video below. An excerpt from the former; please read it for more details.

"Michel Bauwens recently spoke at the Harvard Berkman Center to give his big-picture analysis of the economic and social transition now underway.  The hour-long video of his talk provides a clear explanation for why peer production is flourishing and out-competing conventional business models and markets.  It’s all part of an epochal shift in how value is created, argues Bauwens. Citing major transitions of the past – from nomadic communities to clans; from clans to class-based, pre-capitalist societies; from pre-capitalism to capitalism – Bauwens said, 'We’re in a period of history in which a marginal system of value is moving to the center of value-creation.'”

Maher on all work and no play. Good New Rule commentary on how we all have to not only work overtime but take work home, or just live at work. If we don't someone else will take our jobs. It's a statement on how the worker can no longer enjoy a life outside of work because we are now all owned by the job. Otherwise we don't have a job and starvation is just a bit worse than the job itself.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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