For three weeks this summer, I was totally off the grid and more or less out of touch while immersed in a permaculture workshop near Mt. Shasta. Permaculture, which literally means “permanent agriculture”, is a systems design theory that can be applied to sustainable agriculture, architecture and community design.
While it started 40 years ago in Australia, permaculture is just now starting to hit a “tipping point” and emerge into mainstream media consciouness. (As it did recently when an actress Ellen Page talked about her permaculture workshop on the Ellen De Generes show.)
Our workshop, produced by Living Mandala, focused on teaching the fundamentals of permaculture in the context of training future leaders of intergenerational ecovillages and intentional communities, so we learned about new systems of organizational management.
As we sat in a beautiful outdoor classroom in the forest, organizational management coach and “evolutionary strategist” Shiloh Boss gave us an intriguing presentation on a new method of leadership called Holocracy. The holacracy concept has evolved out of a startup software company in Philadelphia, Tierney Software.
There are now 100 trained practitioners in Holacracy. “It is an open science, but it is also an open technology available to anyone,” says Boss.
“Meshworks are various organizations or communities that can tackle issues that are insurmountable, like climate change,” she says. “The communities in a sense become an “autonomous body” aligned to a larger purpose.”
It’s like a mushoom mycelium — an organizational meshwork that is intricately interconnected. (By the way, we learned earlier this week from a mycologist that the Mycelium of a mushroom, when mapped out, looks exactly like a map of the Internet.)
Holacracy is hybridized in other meshworks and hierarchies, creating functional complimentaries that result in stable structures. They are localized, as well as have a strategy of interweaving. Although meshworks result from the action of many individual and collective decision makers, they take on a life of their own. They add themselves to individual structures operating at different scales.
Aside from the mesh of communications webs that make up a mushroom mycellium beneath the earth, one clear example of a “meshwork” is social networks like Facebook. This web makes it possible for news to travel like a “virus.”
And there is a spiritual, almost cosmic or psychic interconnectedness to Holacratic structures. Says Boss, “There is actually a larger web of the new world and the new culture, serving the greater world and a greater purpose.”
For example, within the larger network of Facebook are autonomous wholes — generally groups or organizations of 100 to 5,000 people.
In a Holacracy, a coherency of a larger whole can align and govern so that within your circle you self govern, and it’s nested into a larger whole that is always taking in greater information and aligning itself.
There is a larger movement of interconnected, interlinked and overlapping communities, that can respond and react to the larger issues of the world in a coherent manner.
All interesting to think about, as we begin to form more of a unified and rapid communications “mycellium” amongst ourselves by using mobile devices, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of instantaneous communication forming a “global brain.”