Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Slacking on Pontification (and Some Thoughts on Flatness)

I know, I know...you don't visit my blog just for computer and Cobalt Season updates. There was a time when I thought out loud here quite often...and we all shared some thoughts. The time is coming back soon, I do hope.

I continue to read (albeit slower than I'd like) Ken Wilbur's A Theory of Everything. (You can read a snippet here for free.) His writing continues to move me and inspire some great conversations. Lately, I have found myself learning/talking a bit about holarchy vs. hierarchy. The idea works well with the Spiral Dynamics model of human development that he borrows for the book. Holarchy seeks to transcend and include, not just move linearly and, well, hierarchically. So while a great many of us shun the idea of power structures (hierarchies) and long for flatter relationships in organizational strucures, we might do well to take a look at holarchies and what Wilbur calls "nested hierarchies".

I feel like I have been a part of a great many experiments these last years that have attempted to be completely flat...or almost flat. All voices are valid and valued (this is straight-up green meme in Spiral Dynamics) and no one can pull power-plays, no matter how many times you've been around the block.

It's become a difficult thing for several of us to manage...saying that we are all equal in opinion vaue and really trying to live that out. Sure, sure, we all wanted to get away from marginalization and power structures, but perhaps pure flatness is not much more helpful than hierarchy. (Perhaps it is...I'm not sure...but even employee-owned co-ops aren't entirely flat...they get more value the longer they've been there.)

What I'm getting at is that by completely flattening all organizational structures, you might breed an approach to subjects/ideologies/projects that is privileged, lazy, and assuming. If you say all voices are equally valued, you might run into someone like me running my smack about corporatism (something that I actually know very little about)...and while perhaps my voice is valid, it's not as valuable as someone who actually knows something (firsthand) about the subject.

Wilbur says that there is more beauty beyond what he calls flatland pluarlistic relativism (the green meme). That beauty beyond is what he calls integration.

1 comment:

damien O'Farrell said...

Your thoughts here parallel a thought that I have held for a while...

All people are not created equal...

Flatness - like anything else that robs us of our distinctives - seems to miss the point and steal our attention away from the root.... Which in my opinion at this point is respect.

Though we are not all created equal we all deserve equal respect.