“we can’t afford this government” / we must afford holacracy

A measured message of hope from Ed Miliband, the Labour leader – for a year we all wish to be kinder.


Meanwhile, something which came my way via this tweet this morning – holacracy:

[…]  The term Holacracy is derived from the Greek word holon, which means a whole that’s part of a greater whole. Instead of a top-down hierarchy, there’s a flatter “holarchy” that distributes power more evenly. The company will be made up of different circles—there will be around 400 circles at Zappos once the rollout is complete in December 2014—and employees can have any number of roles within those circles. This way, there’s no hiding under titles; radical transparency is the goal.

This reminds me very much of a post from my blog 21st Century Fix, written in 2012, where I concluded the following:

[…] The question this post asks for example: are we witnessing the end of the corporate pyramid as we know it?

Surely we should conclude that well-channelled teams of clever heads will always be more long-lived and successful than one head demanding massive responsibility – and its corresponding reward – as it finds itself atop a lonesome pinhead of a structure. The problem, therefore, is this pyramidal set of relationships. It should be a cylinder – or something rather similar. Open to the world and itself on either side; circular and strong all the way up and down; as flat or as tall as the company culture requires; and with as many clever heads at the complex top of the tasks to hand as – traditionally – get assigned to the rather more humble.

If you think about it, the pyramid which reaches pointy-headed to the sky is actually totally absurd. As the work gets more complex and challenging, we use fewer heads to decide what needs to be done. The chances of committing errors, of stressing oneself into illness, of failing to achieve one’s targets … these are all bound to increase with the traditional pyramid we are all used to.

Surely this is madness.

Surely we need if not a cylinder, at the very least a pyramid without a considerable part of its upper superstructure.

Spain’s football team has shown you can win at football with such a pyramid. Isn’t it now time, in the light of News International, Barclays and those to come that we realise the problem here is traditional corporate organisation?

The problem being:

Not bad people. Not bad communications. Not bad tools. Just bad environments.

Maybe we do all need a change of scenery.


And so I come back to the Ed Miliband video at the top of this post.  In it, he says he will spend his every waking moment as a leader, working on our behalf.  It won’t be easy; it won’t be simple.  But that is his very noble undertaking.

So here’s a thought.  In what may very well become a holacratic age in a not-too-distant future, why not look to jump the guns of history and begin to do the same for political parties?

Last night I was at a gentle and convivial dinner party with friends.  We met a couple, both doctors, both evidence-based professionals.  I was sat next to the husband for most of the evening.  And during our conversation together, we finally agreed that Arthur C Clarke’s “information revolution” was ripping apart political leaders’ control of democracy.  In this current government’s cruel – even despicable – deconstruction of the welfare state, we see not so much a massive takeover by private industry of the public as a desperate attempt by manifestly unprofessional politicians to reassert their control over the march of history.

In truth, in the future, he or she who ends up working with, say, 3D printers which send replacement human hearts across the world at the press of a button will never again believe a politician who says something can’t be done.

And when Ed Miliband points out that our very real challenges are there to be overcome by us all – instead of used as buffers against a wider societal progress – he is perhaps (more than we give him credit for at the moment) understanding intuitively the sea changes taking place.

It’s revolution time, but not as we have previously known it:

No blood-spattered walls.  No genocidal gas chambers.  No gut-wrenching trenches.

Just bedroom taxes, pension cuts, savings levies, bankers bonuses, trillion-dollar bailouts, disability crimes, government-induced prejudice, millionaire tax breaks – and everywhere you look, everywhere you watch, everywhere you observe and finally understand, the progressive and regressive monetisation of life itself.


All that remains for me to say is a Happy New Year to everyone out there.

And remind you that if we really wish to ride the wave of that history I mention, that history we are making for ourselves, that history the politicians resist so violently, the buzzword for the next decade, in business and politics both, should be, must be, will be “holacracy”.

A state, that is, of well-distributed intelligences – where people finally get to focus more on solving problems and less on creating them.  “A dream,” you say?  We gotta start somewhere!

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