The history of holacracy and sociocracy as I know it.
John Buck consulted with Brian Robertson to organize his company sociocratically years ago. Brian was very enthusiastic and was already a devotee of Ken Wilber. John enjoyed the exchanges with Brian since he is an intelligent and energetic person. I haven’t met him; I’m conveying John’s enthusiasm. Brian was on the sociocracy@yahoogroups list years ago. I was also on the agile software list — understood about 1/3 of the discussion but it was exhilarating.
It was the discussion of “code is poetry” that I find is missing in sociocratic literature and discussions. An aesthetic wonderment and striving for perfection.
Brian had, and may still have, a very interesting business model. His company, Ternary Software, didn’t do work under contract. If they decided to work with a company, they became their IT department. Thus they only worked with companies they had confidence in enough to join instead of contracting for services without that kind of involvement. It also meant an ongoing relationship. In this way, they were networked to a set of companies. I don’t know how large Ternary was so I don’t know how extensive the network was/is.
Brian was interested not only in beginning a new enterprise with a name he could trademark and market, but also in integrating some of Ken Wilber’s ideas. I haven’t spent the time to figure out what he has added, or the time I have spent has not revealed this to me in any thing close to clarity, but he has always been open about the roots of holacracy being sociocracy.
There was an article in the Booz Allen internal newsletter a few years ago in which he explained his theory and talked extensively about sociocracy.
For many years John and Brian talked monthly or so about developments in their work. i don’t know if this is still happening but it wouldn’t be unusual that I don’t know or that John is still talking with him. John is a very outgoing person and his phone is pretty much attached to his right hand.
Why Brian named it “holacracy” instead of “holocracy”, he has explained. I don’t remember the explanation but it reflected a tendency I see in sociocracy too — to emphasize the organizational/business base instead of the theoretical base. By this I mean the closed focus on developing norms rather than open discussion about systems theory.
The holacracy people have apparently become very closed and proprietorial. I would love to hear from people who are currently involved with holacracy.