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A Paradigm Shift from Hierarchy to Holacracy

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posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 11:48 AM
"There are many people currently involved in rethinking how we operate within systems, and working to transform them into places that foster a sense of belonging and community. Can human service systems change and begin to function more like communities?"

Yesterday I read about "Liquid Holcracy" for the first time.

All I knew was it used Bitcoin/Blockchain technology to
create a new self-government within organizations that
would effective replace the hierarchical management
system with individual autonomy.

Here is the quote:

Joel Dietz, the founder and CEO of Swarm whose company is building the core technology, described Liquid Holocracy as a powerful combination of the best of flat organizational structures and blockchain technology. According to him, It increases the sense of interpersonal connection, promotes transparency, and provides direct incentives for every participant in a collaboration.

Okay, sounds good, but what is Liquid Holocracy?
Actually, let's start with Holocracy, what is that?

Holacracy is a new way of running an organization that removes power from a management hierarchy and distributes it across clear roles, which can then be executed autonomously, without a micromanaging boss. The work is actually more structured than in a conventional company, just differently so. With Holacracy, there is a clear set of rules and processes for how a team breaks up its work, and defines its roles with clear responsibilities and expectations.

In short, Holacracy is a complete system for self-organization
and self-government. "Organizations are the most powerful force
of change on the planet — yet they’re held back by outdated operating
models. There is a better way."

Here's how the 'self-management' system that Zappos is using actually works


The Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary defines "system" as "a complex whole; a set of connected things or parts; an organized body of material or immaterial things".(1991)

Schools and most workplaces in our society operate as systems. When the word "system" is applied to human service organizations, it is generally defined as "a method for managing people to produce specific results". The system provides a way to organize people to provide effective, accountable and quality support. Most, but not all, systems are organized hierarchically, or vertically, with a clearly defined "chain of command". Information flows from the bottom to the top, and back down again.

A system is sometimes represented visually as a pyramid.


It is difficult to provide a concise definition for community. Most definitions are woefully inadequate to describe both the nature of community, and what community means to us in our daily lives. It often comes down to a feeling, or a "sense of something" intangible and a bit elusive. John McKnight defines community as "a social space where citizens turn to solve problems." (Social Policy, summer of 1989) This definition seems to come closest to capturing a sense of what community is. In a practical sense, some examples of community organizations include clubs, churches, associations, housing cooperatives and councils.

Sometimes it is easier to describe certain apects of community than it is to define it. For example, in a community, it is assumed that everyone is equal. People participate voluntarily. Community organizations do not typically rely on rules, regulations or procedures to "manage" or control one another. If expectations for behaviour have been defined, they are usually generated by the group. People take turns leading, or leadership might be a shared role, depending on the task. A community leader is not the "boss".

A visual representation of a community might be best shown as a circle.

Change is rarely easy. Systems by their very structure tend to resist change. Anyone who has tried to change a "rule" within a bureaucracy knows the truth of that! However, most agree that change is necessary and will benefit everyone. Many people are developing a holistic approach that values, includes and supports all of us. In community we find the fulfillment for our highest self, the spiritual being that is non-tangible but very potent, viral, vital, raw, dynamic, and palatable. We are more than mere meme machines hosting the ideas of other people, we are more than "human resources" for a corporate system.

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolution, and fathered, defined and popularized the concept of "paradigm shift" (p.10). Kuhn argues that scientific advancement is not evolutionary, but rather is a "series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions", and in those revolutions "one conceptual world view is replaced by another".

edit on 27-12-2015 by wasaka because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 12:06 PM
This sounds like a great idea, but unfortunately we have been within a hierarchal system for so long that there are those with so much power (money) that they would never allow this to happen.

posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 12:14 PM
a reply to: wasaka

Intriguing presentation, I am predisposed to abhor holism so I am naturally skeptical.

What is presented is close enough to interpersonal cooperation that I must delve deeper before I summarily dismiss it as yet another vector to totalitarianism, albeit a lateral one.


posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 12:22 PM
Baby steps.
Canada just had a change of government and there's a definite change from Harper's dictator like rule, who was stifling scientists, and not meeting with provinces premiers, micromanaging everything. Not listening to the people at all.
Trudeau is working with the provinces and is planning to let Canada's ministers actually do their own jobs. He's still the boss, but our scientists have now been told they're allowed to speak their truths about whatever their findings are on whatever they're studying. So far, and I realize it's because he's new, and much younger than Harper, he wants to do right by the people. And listen to the people.

It's not much yet, but it's a little bit of a start to what you've described in the op. Our new guy hasn't been corrupted yet, hopefully he never turns into what we've had in the past few years....

posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 12:47 PM
Like many of you I have worked in organizations most of my life, and mine, being what it was, was very liberal in its approach to management style and structure, trying one, then another, according to whatever "new" management book was in vogue at the time. Remember "Quality Circles"? Yup. We tried them. Remember the "360 degree reviews"? Tried that. Remember Peter Drucker? Compulsory reading. How about Myers-Briggs? We all had to take it. How about "Who moved the cheese?" It's one of the more insipid "insightful" theories that floated around a few years ago. Basically if it appeared in any popular "management" book in the last four decades, we tried it along with a bevy of "consultants" who would come in and strut their stuff before the staff. And, of course, we endured many "multi-cultural awareness" seminars whose basic message was: "White men are crap. Everyone else is cool."

And all of this stuff was supposed to lead to a cooperative work environment and make us all happier more productive and more efficient employees. Of course, none of it worked. I remember being astounded when senior management forced us to watch "Who moved the cheese?" which we rented for $2000. It was a half hour of the most ridiculous metaphor on change I have ever seen, but the managers were going around saying how wonderful it was. But it was STUPID! Really. I kid you not. I will never understand how anyone with an IQ above 90 could ever get off on that theory.

Because the bottom line here is that we are primates, and primates have a highly evolved social structure based on hierarchy. It doesn't matter if you have a King and servants, a General with troops, a bureaucracy with GS-15's at the top and GS-5's at the bottom, or whether you have a commune where "everyone is equal," there really is no such thing. Depending on your environment the physically strong, the charismatic, or the insightful leader will emerge or be put in charge, for better or worse, and you aren't going to have much say about it. And if someone is put in charge who represents the Peter Principle, i.e.: has been promoted to his level of incompetence, then what you will have is chaos as all these "equal people" attempt to bring order to their worlds in their own image, but not others'.

And because the Peter Principle is so very common, many organizations are run in a state of chaos, and it does not matter one whit what kind of skin we lay over the top of the organization, what theory we have that purports to "fix" things. It simply will not because WE, us fallible human beings, are part of the ingredients here.

posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 02:05 PM
a reply to: wasaka

We don't need to change, we just need to remember. Sorry for splitting hairs here. Remember the Frisian Freedom in times of feudal serfdom?
In fact I think the opposite is true and things always used to be differet until, ya know... things changed.

With regards to hola!cacy (lol) I wanna add some ideas. The first is the concept of open source and the other would be a new test of basic income in Utrecht.

I think Kuhn didn't think this through and Utrecht just proved him wrong. The 'giving city' is a drastic shift in terms of paradigms and it was only feasible 'cause it's way more cheaper than the old ways. They still struggle with that alone, but the whole process is far from being violent.

Great eye-opener of thread, S&F for you!

posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 09:04 PM
a reply to: schuyler

Because the bottom line here is that we are primates, and primates have a highly evolved social structure based on hierarchy.

I have to agree with this, but I think it's only really true when money is involved. There's no reason we couldn't already be structuring real world businesses using a less hierarchical system. But that just doesn't happen with for-profit businesses because they cannot afford to give too much power to idiots, and they like to minimize wages for all those people at the bottom of the hierarchy.

However there are situations when decentralized power structures can work well. Like open source projects, when everyone on the team is skilled and knows what they have to do. Or charity events and other community organized events, they often have very decentralized organizational structures. Or even the power structure of nations... I'm sure most people would rather separate autonomous nations rather than a one world government.

posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 09:10 PM

originally posted by: 3NL1GHT3N3D1
This sounds like a great idea, but unfortunately we have been within a hierarchal system for so long that there are those with so much power (money) that they would never allow this to happen.

It does seem to be a great idea, but as you said most
establish systems would never adopt this change. However
there are a few progressive companies (like Zappos) who
have implemented the change successfully. And I'm sure
there will me more to follow. I personally am quite sick
of the pyramid of power and false authority.

"Amazon-owned Zappos, which has more than 1,000 employees, is by far the largest company to try operating as a Holacracy"

The system derives its name from "holarchy," a term coined by the writer Arthur Koestler in his 1967 philosophical psychology book, "The Ghost in the Machine." It refers to a collection of holons, which simultaneously function as parts and wholes, like organs in a body.

The initial transition at any company is always "painful and uncomfortable," Robertson says, since people of all experience levels need to learn an entirely new way of doing their jobs. It's why every company, whether a new startup of a few people or established company of over 1,000 employees, is advised to bring in a certified Holacracy coach to teach the system.

Brian Robertson is convinced that Charles Darwin's insights concerning evolution have significant implications for organizations. "How can we make an organization not just evolved but evolutionary ? How can we reshape a company into to an evolutionary organism -- one that makes sense and adapt and learn and integrate? In Eric D Beinhocker's words, 'The key to doing better is to bring evolution inside and get the wheels of differentiation, selection, and amplification spinning within a company's four walls.'"

In his book, Robertson explains HOW to do that.

When sharing his final thoughts in the book, Robertson suggests that, ultimately, "Holacracy is an invitation to consciously engage with [an evolutionary process] in a new way, using a new tool. Because whether via Holacracy or another system, evolution will find its way into our organizations. It's just a matter of time. We can steward it in, or we can fight it for a while - but one way or another, evolution will have its way with us."

edit on 27-12-2015 by wasaka because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 09:19 PM
a reply to: ChaoticOrder

"There is a near religious, quasi cult-like flavor in the requirement for absolute adherence to the system that is quite off-putting. Yet, the diagnosis of the problems in many organizations is accurate and insightful. If you approach the book as a starting point with promise, rather than as the final description of a proven system, then there is much of value worth considering"

That is a quote from one of the Amazon book reviews.

o An Operating System Upgrade (Pages 9-14)
o How Do You Distribute Authority? (16-21)
o Power to the Process (21-26)
o Discovering Purpose (31-34)
o Nature's Structure (38-40)
o Differentiating Role and Soul (42-46)
o A Taste of Governance (68-79)
o The Basics (88-90)
o No More What-by-Whens (104-108)
o Facilitating the Mechanics (113-124)
o Strategy in Holacracy (131-134)
o Evolution Inside (139-141)
o Five traps to Bootstrap Holacracy (151-157)
o When Holacracy Doesn't Stick (167-173)
o Change Your Language, Change Your Culture (176-178)
o Toppling the Hero (185-193)
o Moving Beyond a Personal Paradigm (197-203)
o The Evolution of Organization (203-205)

posted on Dec, 30 2015 @ 12:57 AM
"Self-organization is about valuing people in action. We help companies break down rigid structures and introduce self-organizing principles that give each person a voice and the space to drive company evolution." --Alexis Gonzales-Black

Here is a podcast about Holacracy. A discussion with Alexis Gonzales-Black who led the ‪‎holacracy‬ transition. "We talk about what they did, what they learned, and what's coming next. We also look at other alternative models for organizational structures."

You can play the podcast here: 6022ba68c5

And here is a YouTube of Alexis Gonzales-Black telling her story.

Alexis led college recruiting and diversity initiatives at while also helping the e-commerce retailer transition to Holacracy. Leveraging a background in education, training, and talent, she built a force of more than 80 internal facilitators and advocates to lead the implementation of Holacracy across the company.

"Initial stories sought to explain the surprise of Zappos’ workplace “without managers” and the concept of Holacracy. As the implementation has progressed, more candid discussions about the challenges have appeared. Other organisations have also implemented it, and begun sharing the hurdles and sometimes how they’ve created their own hybrids."

posted on Dec, 30 2015 @ 01:06 AM
Wow. Was he voted `most likely to receive a visit from the terminator ` in his high school ?

posted on Dec, 31 2015 @ 11:12 AM
I agree with the poster who said that we are all primate and the most charismatic or most psychopathic people in an organisation, no matter how egalitarian in principle, will rise to the top. We are also ignoring the significant role of nepotism in organisations which is hidden. I have seen how members of dark occult covens or freemasonic lodges will cover up for the mistakes of their "brothers" or "sisters", whilst simultaneously lowering the status of those who are not in the same secret society. The happy clappy paradigm shift then becomes "Paradigm Lost" (sorry for that terrible Miltonian pun).

posted on Jan, 2 2016 @ 03:02 AM

originally posted by: 3NL1GHT3N3D1
This sounds like a great idea, but unfortunately we have been within a hierarchal system for so long that there are those with so much power (money) that they would never allow this to happen.

That's not the real issue. A need and desire for hierarchy is something inborn to humans. Psychologically we have to have it. Financial, social, employment, political, all of these things are hierarchical, it's not a coincidence. Humans love this type of structure.

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posted on Jan, 16 2016 @ 06:25 AM
a reply to: wasaka

Interesting, however a side effect to such a practice sounds a lot like compartmentalization could start occurring when lain out by its description. Here's your task but everyone knows what the others duties are does sound like it would counteract this but without interpersonal relationships to discuss then focus would likely fall just to task after awhile without some concerted effort to keep everyone informed and engaged... much of the work force is in labor simply to manage monetary responsibilities and the job or field they are in is one they have no passion for as its just a pay check.

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