Integral By Topic in this, or any, I-I forum implies that you have read COMMUNITY BASICS (found in the FILES section).en-USCommunityServer 2.0 (Build: 60217.2664)Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 02 May 2008 05:57:34 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:48633ralphweidner0
good question!

my sense at that time was that sociocracy wasn't simply a theory but also a practice brian had been engaged in for some time with his software company. i wonder if he attempted to take it further in response to, say, suggestions from ken wilber and i-i??
Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 01 May 2008 02:08:07 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:48595adastra0 clarify: I'm looking for a simple statement or summary of what the integral perspective brings to the sociocratic table.  What does integral add (or perhaps make more explicit) that is not already present in sociocracy as originally formulated? 

It's probably going to be a while before I can devote time and attention to really digging into the wealth of holarchy documents that are available, so any help would be appreciated.  In my current ignorance, sociocracy and holacracy sound like basically the same thing.


Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 01 May 2008 01:01:27 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:48592adastra0
sounds great Lion,

here are some of the core elements, these are the pieces incorporated from Sociocracy.  This is not the 'Integral' part,  more on that later...

Decisions Made by Consent
The consent principle governs decision-making. The principle of consent is the method of decision-making whereby the arguments presented in discussing a decision are of paramount importance, and the result of the discussion is that no one present has a reasoned and paramount objection to the decision being made.

Circle Structure

The organization is built of a hierarchy of circles. A circle is a group of persons who are functionally related. Each circle has its own aim and has the authority and responsibility to execute, measure, and control its own activities and to maintain an appropriate level of knowledge and skill assisted by integral training.

Double Linking

A lower circle is always linked to a higher circle in such a way that at least two persons, including the person with leadership accountability for the circle and at least one elected representative from that particular circle, belong to and take part in the decision making of the next higher circle.

Elections by Consent

To the extent permitted by law, persons are elected to functions and roles exclusively by consent after open discussion.


"This is not the 'Integral' part,  more on that later..."

It's now later.  Stick out tongue [:P]

What's the 'Integral' part?


Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 13 Feb 2007 17:11:38 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:19319ternarybrian0

Hi Folks,

It is an absolute pleasure to announce the first multi-day Holacracy training seminar, coming up in April.  You can find more information about the event in this flyer.  In addition to the basic teach-pieces, participants will witness Holacracy in action at a real meeting of Ternary Software, and the seminar includes an opportunity to practice Holacracy yourself in a simulated setting and get real-time coaching to deepen your ability.  Should be fun and a great learning experience!

On a related note, we are actively looking for additional ways to reach folks who may be interested in Holacracy and inform them about the event.  If you know of any organizations, groups, forums, etc. that may be willing to help us announce this event to a receptive audience, I'd greatly appreciate any introductions or referrals.


- Brian

Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 09 Jan 2007 04:31:10 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:18009jsafran0 All--

Just wanted to introduce ourselves as the coordinators of the Integral Leadership & Business affinity group in NY and let you know that Brian Robertson will be facilitating a workshop, Holacracy in Action, in NYC on Saturday January 27th from 1-4pm. I wil upload a flyer with the event details (and please feel free to pass it on to anyone you know who might be interested).

Apart from producing events such as Holacracy in Action, we'd like to build an integral presence in the NYC area that provides a forum for both theoretical exploration and application of integral theory as it relates to leadership development and business practices.

Thanks Lynne for putting us on the radar here!

Jessica Safran & Jonelle Rodericks
Coodinators, Integral Leadership & Business Affinity Group NY
Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 06 Jan 2007 02:12:31 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:17786ralphweidner0
thanks very much, brian. i'll be following your suggestions.

i can't claim to understand how you're going about this (i.e., you and colleagues developing holacracy), but as well as i can tell you're doing it in a holacratic fashion, so there's an internal consistency between your 'walk' and your 'talk', unlike so much else, in my view, we see in thses days of blatant hypocrisy and self-contradiction.

i hope i'm not being hopelessly naive here,


Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 02 Jan 2007 23:26:25 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:17601ternarybrian0

Awesome summary there Simon, and I love the analogy and the explicit link to biological evolution!  Thanks for sharing!

- Brian


Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 02 Jan 2007 23:05:23 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:17600ternarybrian0

Hi Ralph,

If you're looking for a good overview of the basics of Holacracy, this article might be of interest - it only covers a handful of the key practices that relate to governance, though it's still fairly self-contained and probably the most complete writing out there as of now.  It was written for a software industry publication, though if you ignore the handful of software industry references it should be just as understandable to those from other backgrounds.

For more information I suggest reviewing the content on as well - there's a good general write-up of what Holacracy is on the About Holacracy page (this is more current than the article, and describes it more deeply).  There are also links to other writings and audio recordings in the Resources section, and some of the audio recordings cover topics I haven't written much about yet.  Unfortunately both the article and the content on the website (at least as of now) are still highly partial, though I'm adding more as often as time allows.

If you're interested in getting e-mail announcements whenever new content or other information about Holacracy is available, there's an e-mail list you can sign-up to for this purpose (it's a one-way list just for getting occasional announcements, news, and updates; it's not a discussion forum).  We are also actively planning the first in a line of public Holacracy seminars and workshops, and I'll announce these via that list as well once they're nailed down (should be quite soon for the first one).

Hope that helps!  Also, regarding your insight about the similarity between a Holacracy and "biological governance", I'm intrigued by that as well, and I think the connection is very real.  I have more thoughts here, but no time at the moment to dig deeper - I'll add this to my list of potential future topics for writings and talks, thanks for raising it!


- Brian

Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 24 Dec 2006 23:24:06 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:17136SimonM0's a very helpful clarification Brian.  If I've understood Anth's major point it's that Holacratic decision making is looking for only a workable solution to the current issue; not the best solution, not the solution that's most agreeable, not the most profitable solution but one that meets the objective and does not decrease requisite control. 

Elsewhere you've (I think it was you) remarked on the similarity of Holacratic functioning to the style found in us biological organisms: as we're walking, we select our next step rapidly on the basis of adequacy, safety and ease of execution, not on the basis of ground covered, symmetry with preceding steps, precise direction,....  It's also interesting to look at the similarities to biological evolutionary development: the next change merely has to be adequate, non-lethal (congruent with the rest of the organisation in phenotypic expression) and marginally advantageous to be retained in the species genotype.

  Holacracy (and walking, of course) introduce human intent as a further criterion for narrowing of aim in comparison with evolution, but specifically allow the holding of that intent lightly but firmly in the evaluation and selection of movement toward the goal.

I love it!  Big Smile [:D]
Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 23 Dec 2006 01:43:43 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:17024ralphweidner0,

i'm not actively involved in what appears here to be an ongoing study and development of holacracy, but i am seriously interested, so i really appreciate your sharing this process with us. since i haven't followed this development very closely, i'm curious as to what the overall context, your working notion of holacracy, so to speak, into which this particular perspective is being integrated, is at this time. is something like that written down and, possibly, availabe to us here? i ask because, while i've seen what gary stamper passed on via his website about a half year ago, it sounds like you've gone well beyond that.

also, i'm intrigued by what correlations there might be between the microcosm of the inner world each one of us, of necessity, governs, and what you're doing with regard to macrocosmic governance. it seems to me that a comparison of the two would enrich both of them. for instance, teilhard, in canada, has initiated another thread called integral entropy, in which he muses about what might be called holacratic governance of our 1st tier, inner world. (of course, in one case there is a dominant monad, and in the other, only a dominant mode of discourse.)

any thoughts about that?

Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 22 Dec 2006 21:34:20 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:17018ternarybrian0

Hi Folks,

Awhile back Peter Merry asked about integrating perspectives in Holacracy (in this post), and I've heard similar questions and concerns from others as well, so I thought I'd take some time to address how this works in Holacracy (and thanks for articulating the issue so elegantly Peter!). I'm also reminded how difficult it can be to communicate the practices or experience of Holacracy effectively - Holacracy is a whole-system change from what we're used to in human organization and culture, so it's very difficult to understand by looking at any one aspect. Each practice reinforces and is reinforced by the others. In this specific case, as Peter illustrates, if we just added Integrative Decision-Making to human organization and decision-making as we're accustomed to it today, it wouldn't work very well - you'd likely end up stonewalled, and eventually the system would be bypassed. There is huge difficulty in using Integrative Decision-Making without Dynamic Steering; but when the two are used hand-in-hand, each reinforces the other and something really beautiful can emerge (but even together they don't fully stand-alone - they need to be held up by several of the other practices of Holacracy, hence a full-system shift).

With that preamble aside, let's get more specific. A friend and colleague, Anthony Moquin ("Anth"), wrote something up in response, and gave me permission to post it (a rare treat; Anth has been a close partner of mine in pioneering our practice and understanding of Holacracy, but he rarely writes anything for public consumption). Here it is:

  • The Challenge
    • I want to make sure that I understand the specific question you’re asking. Let me try to restate the challenge that you’re describing (and please let me know if I’m off track!):
      • The right decision from one perspective is often different from the right decision from a broader perspective.
      • The challenge is to find a way to convince those who don’t see the broader perspective that both decisions would be right, but that the broader one is preferable because it transcends and includes the other.
      • The question is: How does Holacracy overcome this challenge, and facilitate the emergence of the better decision when people disagree on the form that it ought to take?
    • The simple answer: It doesn’t. Holacracy sets a very different threshold for decision-making, one which does not create space for this kind of unnecessary conflict in the first place.
      • The catch: Facilitating Holacratic meetings is often a very challenging task, because many people are naturally inclined to exhibit the argumentative behavior you are describing. Effective facilitation is a learned skill requiring many hours of practice and a deep understanding of the principles behind the process.
  • Holacracy’s Approach
    • The relevant aspect of Holacracy is the governance system, and the purpose of a governance system is to maintain distributed and coordinated control over the effectiveness of an organization.
    • Organizational dysfunction occurs whenever any part of the organization lacks sufficient control to ensure its own effective operation (“requisite control”).
      • Because organizations are defined by their internal interdependencies, whenever one part becomes dysfunctional then other parts tend to also become dysfunctional.
      • Therefore, it is outside the “limits of tolerance” of the whole organization for any part to be unable to ensure its own effectiveness.
    • Holacracy maintains organizational control by ensuring that whenever a loss of requisite control is sensed, that sufficient control is quickly regained.
      • In Holacracy terms, this is called “steering”.
    • The first goal of Holacracy is to prevent organizational dysfunction.
      • This is a prerequisite to Holacracy’s secondary goal: To increase effectiveness in an organization.
      • But as a first goal, it is still quite difficult.
    • This is why an objection to a proposed decision must explain how it will result in dysfunction within some part of the organization.
      • Note from Brian: The key part here is that an objection is about how the proposal causes loss of control now, which means, before we'll have another chance to steer, and not about what might happen, as long as we have the ability to steer effectively as soon as the "might" actually starts to manifest; often objections are addressed not by trying to improve the decision, but just by adding methods to get feedback faster and more often so we can steer more effectively, as reality provides us with more data and helps us see what "wants to emerge".
    • The threshold of decision-making in Holacracy is merely the discovery of a “workable” decision (no objections), not the “best” decision (as agreed by the participants).
      • Holacracy does not seek a decision that fully takes into account all perspectives.
      • Holacracy merely seeks a decision that sufficiently takes into account all perspectives to ensure a decision that is capable of restoring requisite control.
    • When an objection is raised, the facilitation process in Holacracy integrates all necessary perspectives to seek a minimally sufficient understanding of the lack of requisite control in some part of the organization, so that the control structure can be appropriately adjusted.
      • It is the “minimally sufficient” criterion which enables the facilitation process to be highly efficient.
        • There is no need for everyone present to understand all aspects of a decision. Everyone just needs to have confidence that the decision will not undermine any part of the organization’s ability to function effectively.
        • There is rarely a need for anyone to be convinced of anything, since the goal is not to find the “best” decision.
      • Often, the addition of a simple “measurement” component to the proposal is sufficient to address the objection and maintain confidence in requisite control.
        • A measurement component usually takes the form of “…and the effectiveness of this approach will be measured at the next meeting.”
      • Other times, all that is needed in order to address the objection is a reminder that, if the suspicion of potential dysfunction becomes evidence of actual dysfunction, this can be immediately raised as a more substantive objection at that time.
        • This is always the case in Holacracy, but in stressful situations this fact is easy to forget.
      • In other cases, the raising of an objection naturally results in the delegation of accountability and control directly to the objecting participant.
  • Closing Thoughts
    • Going back to the original question, it should be clear now that theoretically it doesn’t matter which decision is made, as long as both decisions maintain requisite control throughout the organization.
    • Practically, the better decision is the one that can be made more quickly.
      • Quicker decision-making means more decisions can be made.
      • More approaches can be tried, and more can be learned about what really works and what really doesn’t.
    • This can be seen as “lowering the bar” on decision-making, which may raise theoretical concerns about the quality of the resulting decisions.
    • More accurately, it can be seen as “raising the bar” on stonewalling the decision-making process, recognizing that quality can be continually improved only when we allow ourselves to learn from experience.

That's Anth's response.  I have one comment of my own to add at this point:  Anth wrote about how Holacracy expressly pushes against attempts to fully integrate all perspectives at any given moment in time, and yet looked at over time it ends up integrating more than any other process I've witnessed.  To explain this a bit further, consider that it isn't actually possible to step back and integrate all perspectives; no matter how much you integrate, there is always something more still to integrate, and more reality still emerging around you - it's "turtles all the way up", neverending.  Integrating perspectives is a process, an evolutionary one that unfolds through time, not something we step back and "do" at any one point.  So what we can do is be integrating; we can become an agent for the natural evolutionary impulse, by riding the emerging moment here and now and integrating what actually arises into that present moment.  In Holacracy, we strive to integrate what needs integrating as it needs integrating - no more, no less, no sooner, no later.  The more we can find the discipline and skill required to do this (and it's not easy!), the more value we will be able to integrate into our reality.  It's not about trying to instantly integrate everything; it's about unfolding more value into our reality tomorrow than we had yesterday, while recognizing the inherent perfection of the present moment and the evolutionary process, wherever we may be within it at any given time.

There's a lot more to write - this is a very deep topic - though I hope that'll at least shed some light for now, and I'll try to clarify further and highlight more aspects of Holacracy over time. And isn't that an example of dynamic steering right there?  Rather than trying to guess at what might need further clarification and spending more time writing and perfecting this now without listening to reality, we just post it, confident that while it may not be the "best" description it won't likely push our system outside any limits of tolerance, and then we let reality show us our natural next step, via real data in the form of reader's follow-on reactions and questions. And the reason we choose an online forum for sharing these clarifications in the first place, instead of, say, writing a book or publishing an article, is that this forum makes dynamic steering easier; we can get more feedback faster to improve how we do this, and we waste less time guessing at and implementing clarifications that may not actually be needed, or at least not needed just yet.

When I talk about how Holacracy helps us surf the emerging edge of reality, it's largely this practice of "dynamic steering" that I'm referring to - but, as always, only within the context of all the other practices that support it and make it practical to actually live and work together on that edge.

With deep gratitude for all the inquisitive souls out there helping me steer,

- Brian

Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 19 Dec 2006 22:18:15 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:16843sacajowea0, Edward,
I don't think your question Post 625) got answered exactly, and I think Peter Merry's posts imply similar questions.

I've witnessed quite a few instances in which outright character assassinations have been done toward people who disagree with a group process, with the simple words:  "You're green.  Let's move on."

I would think that "green" people would respond to logic, for example.  If a group planning a luncheon spends an hour deciding between pickles and onions, I think they'd respond to a well-worded clarification of the greater perspective.  Perhaps all but one or two would change their views. 

If a private school gives every kid awards for sports, with no recognition for true talent, this is considered pathological green, I'd think.  But, IMHO, it needs a rational explanation, e.g., "In the larger world to which the children graduate, a child needs to know hir greatest strengths, and areas of weakness or vulnerability as well."  The school could also account for intrinsic worth using additional structures, such as a talent show, or a hallway exhibit of someone's dirt biking exploits, or whatever.  

I suspect that one of the hallmarks of a successful holacracy is the "wisdom" of its leader or "council of elders", the "regnant nexus" (KW).  If memes are a kind of values line, there is, of course, Torbert's action logic/Susann Cook Greuter's ego development.  There is the psychodynamic ego development and object relations lines.  There's the line of interpersonal and social skills, and so on.  Oh yes, there's the logico-deductive line of Piaget and the cognition as ability to take perspectives line of Ken Wilber, and the emotional line which adds a felt-sense or detracts with shadow.

That's UL.  In the LL, Lynne Feldman's post brings up a subtle point, about how more feminine approaches might dovetail with the LR mapping of roles and point-people and functions, etc. 

Perhaps a holacracy model needs to operate out of all quadrants and not favor the LR quite so much.  Decisions might take a bit more time on the front end but provide a stronger foundation, for "ground-up" development, which might end up stronger in the long run.

I have lots of hope that the thousands of strong minds who enjoy Ken's work will eventually help meet some needs for theory-fleshing.  But conventional rationality and clear explanation, IMO, can take us all a long way.


Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 11 Dec 2006 01:25:32 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:16300ralphweidner0
hey gary! this sounds great, but you know me: i've got to complain about something. so, why not say holarchy instead of hierarchy, as in

red, amber and orange think in terms of hierarchy,

green in terms of heterarchy, and

turquoise in terms of holarchy, i.e. both heterarchy and hierarchy, an integral approach.

hope to see you again in portland,

Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 10 Dec 2006 04:59:20 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:16251gary0, Peter,

At SeattleIntegral we've faced this problem. There are two choices as we've seen it: either find a way for the green monad to work within the dominanant mode of discourse, or remove them, and we've succesfully done the former in one instance, and sadly had to do the latter in another. For either of these to work, the dominant mode of discourse has to be at second tier or it's just the same old first tier stuff. Skillful means accomplished the first, and a certain amount of ruthless acceptance of hierarchies and the greater good is necessary for the second.

Re: Holacracy and Integral Governance Thread, 23 Oct 2006 18:12:19 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:12122integrallynne0

a higher level re-frame of the issue to transcend and include it is often simply not accepted, and frustration comes to the surface with the feeling that they are somehow being manipulated into accepting a decision where their concern claims to have been met, but to them looks like its been watered down and not properly honoured - because they literally cannot see the higher system. in this case, we are of course talking about a closed system (as opposed to open or even arrested), and i feel that one thing that has not yet been made explicit in the holacracy writings is the need to sometimes draw a boundary to avoid the sabotage of a higher-level system by a closed lower one. the implications of verticality. so for example you listen to the objection, you remain open with your heart and mind, probe for the deeper truth in the objection, identify it, reframe the objection as that truth, and suggest we look at how to develop the proposal to make sure that truth is covered. a new proposal emerges, which is highest common denominator proposal, so you haven't dropped the higher level insights to satisfy the lower-level objection, but have truly transcended and included. and still, for a closed lower system, that is not enough. why? because it literally cannot appreciate the higher perspective. now i don't know about any other countries, but closed green is pretty prevalent over here. and if you capitulate to it, the whole quality of the proposal drops and you get a lowest common denominator. so once you have truly met the objection, and you and others from the higher perspective can see that it really has been met, yet some people still cannot see it and hold onto their objection, someone at some point has to draw the line, or else you end up going round in circles. someone has to say - "we have heard you, got the essence of the objection, integrated it, and are now going to move on. if you cannot live with this, then you can choose to leave this group." now one would hope that this would be a rare occurence, i just think we need to face everything and avoid nothing in these processes, and accept that drawing boundaries is part of creating space. you then get into a very on-the-edge conversation about who is the one who ultimately does draw the line, and what is their mandate to do so - and my experience is that you just have to say "it is me / us, and it is so because we are the ones who have taken the responsibility to lead this show, and if you don't like it, you are always free to leave." the wonderful dance between clarity and compassion... peter

Peter, this is becoming more and more obvious to me as I begin working with holacracy, and I really need to ask Brian more about this, since he has told me so many stories of folks up and down the deelopmental spiral who happily and productively utilize his system with grace.  I have not seen it enough to comment on it, altho I agree with you that closed Green is smart enough to catch onto what you are doing, and subvert it.  I also agree that there comes a very sad time when we have to say goodbye to those who refuse to actually acceed to the decisions, and boundary-marking is not easy for many of us, given our  internatlized cultural and gender stereotypes.  The classic problem of female power is one that I'd love to see I-I deal with in a seminar, as well as masculine and feminine power, and how their styles might differ in a holacratic system, if at all??