principles from an American Teilhardian
this final Christmas letter I wish to discuss what Dee Hock
the former CEO of VISA International called chaordic principles.
Hock was a closet Teilhardian who needed to run a global organization
with new rules for a global mind. His legacy was not a complete
success and he resigned from VISA to ponder the deeper dimenions
of chaos and order in all kinds of organizations.
Hock realized that you needed to treat all members of an organization
as creative players in a process of increasing complexity and
ingenuity. The importance of keeping an open mind with all was
pretty critical. Also the need for asking questions constantly
about any given situation until a solution miraculously emerged
ecame a common pattern at VISA International.
Speed and rational planning were creating an age of efficiency
freaks and speed managers. Uniformity, centralized authority,
and enforced conformity was the price for the expansion of material
achievements and this material acceleration brought on a mindless
production and consumption cycle. Technology created by any
centralized authority generated a complexity and diversity which
in turn it tried to control and make uniform. It was a strange
and dangerous contradiction.
This uniformity and efficiency clashed with any variability
and complexity needed for any future evolution of any institution.
Both parent and child were in conflict. Institutional faliure
often could come out of this conflict. Out of this uniform straight-jacket
the need for connectedness and relationship was fairly urgent.
One needed to manage not only one's self, but also one's surperiors,
peers, and subordinates. Human ingenuity was the most abundant,
least expensive, and most under-utilized and constantly abused
resource in the world. Hock saw that one needed to be taught
how to manage and to be also managed at the same time. Everyone
was limitless and it was important not to limit anyone. Out
of chaos, order would ultimately emerge bit by bit.
A sense of community was needed and wanted. This came out of
a shared purpose and set principles that would lead to new concepts
of self-governance on multiple levels from the individual to
the global. This was pretty essential. Not only were shared
principles and purpose necessary, but also agreement was needed
about how to pursue it.
The entire translation project we are all involved in now was
an untested process especially with the financing so insecure.
No one really knew what was going on including me and no one
had time to really care about this.
Concepts for institutional organization were lagging behind
the speed of change in everything else. I was attempting to
organize a disorganized group. But there had been episodes of
self-organization in the group. Dov's seminar idea, Rutger's
attempts to organize a lawsuit against me. These were the most
dramatic examples. Suzanne's tantrums, Evgueni's complaints,
Kenta's shadow-boxing, and Dongwei's praise of the group were
minor episodes that did not catch on. Rafa's unintended blow-up
was more serious. Some process was needed to let organized information
about problems emerge in a useful manner. What was the best
form that the team could take in order to improve its function?
There would be a penalty for evolutionary failure.
on Hock's track:
You needed to ask about things as they were. As they might be,
and as they should be. All organizations were just ideas. Compulsive
behavior could be destructive. Induced behavior was more constructive.
What a self-organizing group needed was shared values and principles
and also a sense of community. It's meanings and values were
critical for successful kinds of self-organizing.
The idea of digital synergy was critical. I had done this with
the publishing and translation, but market and promotion linkages
to these activities were still stalling.
The exchange of monetary value in the chaordic age was not enough.
Cultural, emotional, and spiritual values and their exchange
were just as crucial. Digital technology which was decreasing
in cost and increasing in abundance was becoming an almost limitless
resource. How did one re-distribute this new abundance? A centralized
organization could not do it. Some transcedental organization
was now needed. It was important to create conditions were new
concepts could swiftly emerge.
People had to be linked in the right relationships. You needed
to challenge people and free them to do the job as they saw
fit. Progress reports could be filled with crazy ideas aswell
as failures. Just as long as they showed imaginitive thinking
and also stimulated and inspired the group. Better questions
needed to emerge.
Self-organizing and self-designing would lead to more than just
consensus, but also solidarity. Innovation and synthesis would
be critical to this process. The future was about imagination,
hope and relief. One had to be the leader of a movement, not
the commander of some structure. The group needed an understanding
of the opportunities and also needed to be excited about the
concepts involved. No one could be certain about what would
emerge, but commitment to the process was needed. Not to some
final result. Though a clear vision was still needed.
How could the Harvest community transform itself?
Information multiplied through its constant transfer and was
never depleted by constant use. It was infinite in its abundance,
utilization and recombination. Information breeded and really
had no boundary. It was important to challenge the spirits of
the team in order to release their ingenuity. Direction, purpose,
and beliefs about how to get there were critical in a complex
and rapidly changing world. A clear sense of direction was more
important than a plan.
Failure would teach what to do next.
If you had built castles in the air you're work need not be
lost. That was where they needed to be. Now it was time to put
a firm foundation under them. In non-monetary exchanges of value
things were done without measurement or prescribed return were
the real heart and soul of the chaordic community.
Asking critical questions was a kind of recreation.
New information dissolved boundaries and allowed new patterns
of relationships to emerge.
Nano-technologies were converging. This would create an explosion
of social diversity and complexity. Networks had nodes that
were hubs. It was important to hit these hubs in order to get
things done. They had more links than others. The web was aristocratic.
There were tons of nodes, but only a few had many links.
In our age we were fat on data, but starved for understanding
and wisdom. Making judgements with incomplete data was always
necessary. Leadership was about moving with a clear direction
and with proper values. Wisdom, foresight, and compassion were
hard to aquire. Rapid evolution brought extreme dissonance and
stress. It was all based on an accelerating paradox.
events didn't always fit our inner world view. Denial and repression
of rapid change were various forms of black stress. Space-out
was white stress. Changing your worldview demanded a transcedent
form of mindfulness. Welcoming change and a new order of things
was not easy.
You had to act on conviction and principle openly and non-judgementally
trusting that constructive events would emerge. More self-organization
was needed in the team. All differences had to be open, honest,
and constructive. One had to back away from a difficult situation
and look at it in a playful and unorthadox way. The larger sense
of community and purpose transcended the situation ALWAYS. This
would conquer all problems. It was no failure to fall short
of realizing a dream. The effort was what was supreme. The will
to succeed and the grace to compromise brought success. It was
important that no outside experts be brought in. We were the
experts because no one had done this before.
You needed to release human ingenuity and just see what would
happen. You had to encourage self-organization. There could
be no hoarding of ideas or information. You had to solve a puzzle
with an explosion of ingenuity. There could be no commandments,
no threats, or penalties from either side. Common objectives
were solved locally and creatively. re-conceptualization was
needed along with pioneering in short-time frames.
You were constantly asking questions and peeling the onion until
a solution was found. You needed to be open to surprise. testing
the strengths and weaknesses of the complexity and systematic
diversity facing you. Learning, as one walked between chaos
and order, cooperation and competition, compelled and induced
there were different kinds of exchange of value. I was pioneering
a new concept of organization. What was the Harvest team trying
to evolve to? What was struggling to become? How could I ask
the right questions? This was all about the institutional DNA
of self-organizing. VISA, the internet, and Harvest.
The team members were treated like real people not " human
resources. " Mindfulness and systems theory were poking
their heads here. Shared purpose, shared principles, a shared
sense of community, excitement and a hope for the future.
This was all about seeing an orderly pattern on the edge of
There could be no command or control organization. One had to
commit oneself and the higher forces would move too. Boldness
and genius, power and magic was in this process. What was needed
was a global civilization with a philosophy for sustainability.
We were moving from hand-crafting to industrial-crafting to
ultimately mind-crafting. The extension of Muscle power to the
extension of mind power. Soft-ware to thought-ware. Would this
lead to an age of extended ethical and spiritual power?