At the moment I am living and contributing at Ahimsagram in Jaipur, which began as a community space for people with a shared desire to live, learn and Share NVC and collaborative systems like sociocracy and holacracy , while living sustainably. We began in April 2017 with Sociocracy as our governance system and now are moving to Holacracy as a method for our governance, or rather we are in a live Holacracy ‘Experiment’ right now. I am not sure how well it will work but as of now its promising as well as super challenging at the same time. Its supposed to be a system which encourages distribution of authority and does not have managers who manage people but each person has a domain and accountability which is meant to be clearly spelt out and they take charge of their decisions, while being connected to the common vision and purpose of the organisation.
Introducing Holacracy is a tedious process and it does not have to happen all in one go, as we move on we naturally face problems, which in Holacracy is referred to as a ‘tension’ – a gap between what you want and where you are. It’s like an eco-system where the feedback moves within and among organisms(plants, animals, humans, elements of nature) and each part responds to the shifts by doing what they are meant to do. There is on one boss in a forest which directs the forest but still things move on, with each entity as a managing themselves in accordance with the shared purpose and make the system resilient. It’s because it is in the DNA of the entity or being to meet the overall purpose by taking care of their particular roles and accountabilities.
Creating our social DNA
Now, when humans have to organise in organisations and businesses, we don’t have a DNA like the being in the forest which allows us to know and do our accountability or in others words have underdeveloped systems for collaboration. This is because our ideas of what’s possible and what’s not has been shaped by the belief systems of the society. If we live in fear we want to hide things and share it selectively, we assume that people are not to be trusted so we want to control and as well as command the whole situation and not letting people act out their own roles with their power and creativity which stops them from growing. I have learnt that if we want to create collaborative organisation, the leaders have to unlearn their desire to save the organisation by jumping in at each crisis and attempting to fix it. As a founder of this space I have unneccesary done a lot of it, by taking the role of saviour and jump into every fight and force a solution rather than let the fight evolve so that the participants find their own answers with the given content and processes.It is important to create a systems where tensions can be harvested at the earliest. This way the person who experiences a tension comes forward to solve it. I am now learning that we can have a great dynamic growth if we can hold the space for tensions and let people take charge of their tensions. It reminds me of Dominic who intiaited the Restorative Circles process in Brazil uses the phrase “unravelling the gift of conflict”.
Yet at the same time it takes time to set up the system and every one falls back into the standard patterns of centralised command and control organisation, either as an authority or as a receiver.If a farmer is doing chemical farming for 20 to 30 years and then they start doing something totally new, like creating an eco-system of farming, it needs work to create a different atmosphere and processes. In Organic farming, the farmer began’s to rely on different elements of nature to let them do their role and begins to collaborate with them. The ants, bats, snakes and owls are seen as friends and entrusted to do their job. When we use chemical farming the first intervention is to put fertilisers which makes the soil acidic and kills all life which was earlier fertilising the soil. As a result when there is no living beings the whole job of fertilising is now to be done by more inputs from the farmer each year. So when I came from a traditional control and command system, I wanted to make sure everything works perfect, there was a fear of failure so I became a ‘perfectionist’ in my own way, raising the bar for myself and making my own life difficult and some time that of others also even more painful.Instead of reling on the inherent creative potential the control and comand manager tends to impose their methods which distance the team members from taking initiative and as a result the manager has to put more and more inputs just as a farmer using chemical fertilizers has to increase the inputs each year. I do see that there were some met needs like we did ‘achieve’ a lot by having control and command energy but it seems some people stopped initiating things or worst is they came from past where there initiative was mocked or criticised so they were scared to come up with ideas, or it was not part of their agenda to trust themselves. So the so called people in power and those disempowered had set roles. Holacracy tries to break these roles in a way it has a spirit of communism in action for me at this moment, may be tomorrow I might have a different opinion of it.
So there is something in the system where, which Quakers thought that everybody has the divine light, and that’s another kind of spirituality that we are talking about that every human being has the ‘anhad’, the unbounded potential and how can we have systems like, every seed has the same power to meet its purpose of life.
In this each element and player has a role, Like tagore said that freedom cannot happen to just one flower, the whole garden or forest has to bloom then there is freedom. Holacratic systems by setting up such process which bring in equivalence and transparency along with movement of feedbacks and distributed authority is also able to create an effective system. I am seeing the taste of this effectiveness and ease at moments and yet the challenge of learning, introducing and parcticing now processes which call for new habits and patterns. I will later on draw a comaparison between our control and command belief systems and habits with those that we need to bring in our lives to make systems like Holacracy work.
To know more about Holacracy go to https://www.holacracy.org/
Thanks to Parul agarwal and Hemshree Jain for organising the Blog Post.