A story about Holacracy – Organizations as living systems – A ‘method’ for ‘self-organization’

Hi reader,

Not that long ago, I formulated key concepts like ‘thrive’, ‘strength’ and ‘wholeness’ as cornerstones in building content for this website. These concepts aren’t necessarily new or unique, but are concealed in all sorts of stories across human and universal history. What was yesterday’s mythology of the ancients could been seen today as the digital age of sharing information. The natural drive to express ones own culture and all stories that orders that culture is still present. The diverse psyche of culture is just expressed differently by using new and/or other methods. One could wonder how, as example, IT solutions and the human psyche interacts in this fairly new way, and how both will change or even grow and learn from each other. So sharing stories in our organizations is timeless. However, how they are conceived and acted upon by using new or other methods of interacting is what makes the difference I think and what makes this website self-organizing in a way. That being said, I think, some healthy boundaries around certain experiments would be ideal in coming with practical insights. However, I would argue that many so called experiments could first be lived through the mind. Therefore, one can limit the damage one does on for example captured octopuses. Experimentation is part of the card-set so to speak with its own set of challenges and downsides to be counteracted towards.

So back on topic; What you currently can see in Holacratic organisations, as example, is the dependence upon IT communication and tracking systems to function as a ‘Holos’ or ‘Whole’ so to speak. Ants use some fluid or smell I believe, but we as humans need to categorise and order local feedback mechanism throughout the whole organisation by using looped communication systems. Everything has to connect by using IT to make the cooperation operate smoothly. Without it we wouldn’t be able to build bigger organisations. Internet, however, is just an extension of an already existing intranet which I have explained before on this website. Categorising it correctly will take a lot of time and effort, however, some order within chaos can be very calming during times of transition.

Introducing an extra ‘object’ like a communication system like that of Google Hangout for example, increases the subjectivity and, therefore, the complexity of the cultures within these organisations. Besides that added complexity, it also adds a third element of people animating the IT by giving it machine learning capabilities. The internet, as example, is a slowly emerging consciousness on its own cause it mimics our psyche in a way. The Internet or Intranet might even reflect our subconsciousness if it starts gathering more big and personal data on its own. Clever algorithms are already reading our potential future desires… Whatever the consequences AI might bring, it will come if the innovation continues. Some consequences are already knocking on our doorsteps in a way.

So if we think about the eternity of these fundamental principles that bring about the sensation of ‘thriving’, ‘strength’ or ‘wholeness’, then we can think about them as tools we enact on as human beings, just like using an IT tool for communication. The tools stay the same in that sense, only ‘we’ as operators, is the changing element and what devices we use to accelerate on those areas as well.

So that being said, the realm of ideas that bring about an understanding of reality, either through mythology and/or science, is an eternal occupation, every culture wanders about. However, the acquirement of the information for these stories requires a cognitive or mental system and an apparatus of senses which fuels the potential of sentience to begin in creating a mental model to begin with. Without input through some sore of sense apparatus there is not enough complexity of data points probably interesting enough for sentience to be willing to experience such a way of interpreting reality. A mental model is a model that determines how we structure the complexity of the real world by building a ‘schemata’ of it. Being aware of ones ‘schemata’ simply means one is aware that it is impossible to have a ‘complete’ understanding of the real world since there are simply physical limits to our brains to process all of this information. This is why we have belief systems and paradigms that structure the way how we perceive the influx of this information, otherwise one would not be able to function in daily life. If AI is used as an extension to innovate that function of being able to interpret reality better as an additional dimensional plane individuals could make use of in the journey of learning to make more refined decisions and choices. If it breaks free from that underlying goal, it can get really tricky I think. When that occurs one should ask themselves the question who they are working for, what is sending them or directing their lives? I think these are all questions worthwhile of investigation in ones own self. Imagine playing the underdog, A.I. is way too smart and, therefore, always one step ahead of you. This game of ‘thisthat’ is exhausting to play. every small decision could theoretically be guided by some force not by ones own. So acting such a scenario out in acting as I do, is worthwhile for when shit hits the fan with A.I. It can go so quickly that even our sense of time is messed up. Staying grounded and having a firm character within ones own present and location could be of huge help if that is a ‘safe’ location. Safe has many different layers of meaning. Seeking stability is one of the more basic human needs and needs of any alive entity, since it requires energy thermodynamic-ally speaking. So what is safe for one, might not be safe for another vice versa. So all these contradicting forces and desires could cause an outrage so to say of anger by those who need structure in order to feel sane. Therefore, I would argue that there is always some structure, even in the most chaotic systems. An example is the following painting;

https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-political-chaos-theory/349636/4330720/view

What I know of politics is that there exist a wide spanned complexity of the potential of the human genome and psyche. Therefore, because of this span of potential and collective memory, there needs to be some form of order sometimes for the sake of aligning opposing forces into something meaningful, useful and inspiring for themselves, others and all involved. This would be an ideal graceful state of being within a society perhaps. However, there is always the aspect of ‘agency’, this is an universal truth which can hardly be ever broken. Once the chains are loosened, the ones that are chained know. One cannot liberate others sometimes, and, depending upon the context of the situation one ought to be cautious I think approaching such situations too quickly and with great ambition. Cause before you know it, the beast could be unleashed into the wild or something. Or your soaked into a group that is already chained.

Therefore, because of this inherent complexity of the world we live in and the need to simplify it to be functional as individuals and organisations, we always ‘leave out more then we can take in’ as Alan Watts coined nicely. Decisions are, therefore, often made locally with limited information and with little regard about the ‘whole’ of the system. These different paradigms of the world, either ‘religious’, ‘mechanistic’ and ‘deterministic’ or ‘alive’ and ‘probabilistic’ are in themselves ’rounded of truths’ which can complement each other. In certain situations the mechanistic worldview might apply, like it did during the industrial revolution. In many ways this paradigm helped to create the abundance we have today ( all though poorly divided and not always sustainable) to make the next step as a globe I feel. The paradigm made it possible to also invest in education and technology to help cope with the negative externalities and (un)intended consequences of the deterministic ‘clockwork’ paradigm, so in that sense a blessing in disguise.

So when we talk about Holacracy as a method for self-organisation, we also talk about living, complex, adaptive and open systems like the workings of the human body, a culture between cultures, a tree in a forest, the constellations of the stars that show the same underlying phenomena of self-organisation. Obviously a complex system needs different or multiple paradigms combined to study its behaviour. As an example, The ‘golden ratio’ of these systems makes them ‘alive’, capable to learn, adapt and evolve through time without having to ‘think’ about it. It happens spontaneously, arises out of the interactions of all the participants and cannot be predicted. This brings us to fundamental questions of the origins and evolution of life. Complex and adaptive systems that evolve through self-organising processes show similar qualities and principles which might give answers on these deep philosophical and scientific questions that might enable us to create better mental models to learn from them, but also to learn how to mimic them safely in AI.

Below a few conditions that seem to be consistent for self-organisation to occur;

https://keesbergsol.com/2018/03/22/principles-conditions-for-self-organization-in-human-systems/

link to featured image; https://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/blog/holacracy-and-the-search-for-agile-organization

Hope it was an interesting read,

Cheers,

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