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 octopusses. Experimentation is part of the cardset 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 organizations, 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 categorize and order local feedback mechanism throughout the whole organization 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 organizations.Internet, however, is just an extension of an already existing intranet which I have explained before on this website. Categorizing it correctly will take alot of time and some order within chaos can be very calming.

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 organizations. Besides that added complexity, it also adds a third element of us 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. (hats off for that guess in 2019)

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 those areas as well.

So that being said, the realm of ideas that bring about an understanding of reality, either through mythology 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. A system that determines how we structure the complexity of the real world by building a ‘schemata’ or mental model 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. If AI is used as an extension to innovate that function or even do a better job at it, then it still serves our purpose. 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 owns 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 thermodynamically 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;


What I know of politics is that there exist a widespanned 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, usefull 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, they ones that are chained know. One cannot liberate others sometimes, and, depending upon the context of the situation one ought to be catious 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 you 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 organizations, 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)intented consequences of the deterministic ‘clockwork’ paradigm

So when we talk about Holacracy as a method for self-organization, 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-organization. Obviously a complex system needs a different or multiple paradigms combined to study its behavior. 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-organizing 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 our AI.

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


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

Hope it was an interesting read,


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