Reinventing organisation(s)

When discussing dissolution of hierarchy, a number of objections arise, one of which is that large complex enterprise or functions cannot exist without hierarchy but Frederic Laloux's research and book, Reinventing Organizations, demonstrate that it is precisely large, complex tasks which are best suited to non-hierarchical organisation.

Laloux's research is focused mainly on commercial organisations although the successful case studies he cites include a self-organising school in Germany. It is not a big stretch to imagine applying the principles which emerge from his research to local, regional, national and global organisation of society.

Laloux refers to three principles which the most successful self-organising entities adopt:

  • Self-management
  • Wholeness
  • Evolutionary purpose

What is surprising is the lack of strategic planning and budgets; he relates the analogy to a bicycle journey. When you plan a journey, you don't plan every tilt and turn of the wheels to adapt to the topography of the terrain or attempt to anticipate every traffic incident you will meet; if you did and applied the plan rigorously, it would end in disaster - you'd fall off or worse. On your journey, you maintain the overall objective that you're travelling from A to B but adjust your riding dynamically as the journey unfolds. This is an excellent analogy and applies to how we could develop a non-hierarchical political economy.

Murray Bookchin's Ecology of Freedom provides us with the intellectual justification to dissolve hierarchy and challenges us to think differently. Laloux demonstrates how self-organisation can work in practice to manage large, highly complex tasks.

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