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Transcript: Brian J. Robertson: Holacracy-- Alternative to Top-Down Management

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Brian Robertson, author HOLOCRACY
(image by Brian Robertson)

As Brian Robertson described, we went deep discussing the aspects and implication of Holocracy, a powerful manifestation of how the organization is transitioning from a top-down patriarchal, parent child model to a bottom-up one with distributed power, empowering ALL the employees. I see it is the leading edge of a movement that could change the way we think about leadership, about how government and organizations work.

Here's a link to the audio podcast for this transcript.

Welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey. Sponsored by Oped My guest tonight is Brian J Robertson and I'm very excited to have him on the show because he is living a bottom up life and doing bottom up business in a way that is really changing the world.

Rob: Brian J. Robertson is the author of the book, Holacracy, which describes a non-hierarchical, distributed approach to running a company which gets rid of the top-down, industrial, predict and control authoritarian model of management, replacing it with one that gives power to the process instead of the people. That results in empowering everyone in the organization.

Brian works with Holacracy One, which helps companies transition from top-down hierarchical corporate structure to becoming a holacracy.

Holacracy aims to take charge of evolution, enabling employees to be conscious revolutionaries. Hosting the bottom-up radio show, I've long been saying that we are transitioning from a top-down to bottom-up culture.

HolAcracy is a powerful manifestation of how the organization is transitioning from a top-down patriarchal, parent child model to one with distributed power, empowering ALL the employees. I see it as the leading edge of a movement that could change the way we think about leadership, about how government and organizations work.

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I'm also interested, having spent a good amount of radio shows exploring psychopathy, sociopathy and narcissism, including corporate psychopaths, how Holacracy affects the impact and influence of this group, with their unrestrained egos and predations. And Brian, you talk about how heroic, hero leaders and how they're replaced. I've always been fascinated by Joseph Campbell's hero's journey. I'm curious. How does that fit into the transition to holacracy. Is there an organizational heroic journey? I did an interview with Chris Vogler, author of Writer's Journey, on how it could be possible to have bottom up stories with the people as heroes, instead of one super hero.

I've never given an intro that long in a radio show there's so much I want to cover with you and I"m so excited about doing this interview with you so. Lets get started. You start a lot of your talks with your story about your plane flight and Tony Hsieh's, I don't know how to say his last name

BR: (Shay) Tony Shay

Rob: Tony Hsieh's ideas about cities and companies, could you start off there and then we'll dive into this conversation hopefully cover some of the topics I mentioned?

BR: Yeah definitely, so thanks for having me. The story I started the book with actually is the one you're pointing to and it's become just a favorite metaphor of mine. I'm a private pilot and when I was learning to fly I had a flight that nearly ended in disaster- almost crashed the plane and it started when I was on the flight, it was a solo flight, no instructor with me I'm still learning. My low voltage light came on on the instrument panel. I checked every other instrument on that panel and every other one said everything was fine. It was the only instrument reporting anything anomalous. My heading was fine, altitude was fine, airspeed, everything else was fine. So I ended up ignoring the low voltage light and I figured it can't be that big of a problem because only one instrument is reporting anything off. It turns out that was a really really bad decision. I nearly crashed the plane. I ended up totally lost in a storm. No lights, no radio, no power. It was really bad. And it all started with just me ignoring one lone voice, and I realized I do this in my organization all the time. When I ignore one person who has a perspective, has some information, or maybe closest to the client or closest to some part of the business. You know we sense different things in companies, and if we don't have a system in our organization that lets anyone who senses anything use it to drive tangible improvement or action, we have an issue. We're risking crashing the organization.

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That kind of sent me on a journey for - how can we better approaches to run companies? How can run our companies where everyone has a voice and yet we can actually let them use the voice to drive meaningful change, not just talk forever which is one of the risks when everybody has a voice, right? So I experimented for years and years and years in what lead to where holacracy is now. Yes. It's a very different approach to running a company, I'll let you drive that next question but I have a whole bunch of thoughts to share about some of the stuff we started with there.

Rob: You talk about the idea of evolution and how holacracy enables evolution in a company through discussion of tensions, could you do that transition from the idea of evolution to the- Because it seems to me like the discussion of tension in holacracy is one of the key things that happen to make a company function differently than it would in a usual hierarchical system.

BR: Yeah absolutely. We use the word tension to point to the experience that we have when we sense a gap between where we are today and some potential future that could be better. I think for a lot of people tension has kind of a negative connotation, but we don't actually mean it that way. I think it becomes negative when we can't do anything with the tensions we experience and sense. When we can actually act on the tensions and drive improvement then we release the tension. And when we can't we end up with tension as in the way it shows up in our body, physical pain and headaches and all the other stuff we associate with tension. But when we can actually work out the tension, it's a totally different story.

The first thing holacracy does is try to almost embrace the idea of experiencing tension. It's not a bad thing, it's an experience and in that experience is data about how we can evolve the organization and improve and do better and learn and all that. In most companies we have people walking around that are experiencing tension but they're not doing anything with it, which becomes stressful. And they can't do anything with it or it's too hard. In a lot of companies, if the boss doesn't understand what you're talking about, good luck trying to address the tension. Or if you have to go to a big long painful meeting and get everyone to buy in and get agreement then actually that makes it really hard to address a lot of the tensions. So the goal in holacracy is to drive the organization's evolution, the learning, the development of the company and it's processes and structure and systems to drive all of that, based on tensions sensed by everyone involved in the organization. SO the goal in a nutshell is that any tension sensed by anyone anywhere in the company has some place it can go to get processed into some kind of meaningful change. That's how companies evolve, it's through us. We're their eyes, their ears, we're their sensing organs of our companies so if can't process what we sense we have an issue with our organization's consciousness and responsiveness.

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.

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