Luc Bretones
September 11, 2023
min read
Management & Governance

What a "NextGen" Enterprise should look like

James Priest is the co-designer of Sociocracy 3.0.

Sociocracy 3.0 provides a menu of complimentary patterns that can be pulled-in on an as-needed basis to address most areas of need in an organization when your current approach fails to be about the results you’d hope to see. 

The patterns are based upon seven key principles: empiricism, consent, equivalence, effectiveness, accountability, continuous improvement, transparency. With obviously, at the heart of the system, the human factor.

Concerning Sociocracy 3.0, we must start by clearing up a possible misunderstanding: management and hierarchy are not dead. They are different and distributed according to two keys: governance and decision making; coordination and synchronization of work.

Hierarchy is a natural tendency, but subordinate hierarchy is a brake on the adaptability of the organization. It has a propensity to drive out innovative people in favor of more conservative ones, resulting in reduced creativity, commitment and ultimately output. Three pillars of sustainability.

The best antidote to this hierarchy of subordination? Bottomarchy, based on the method of sociocratic circles, from which holacracy was largely inspired.

Organize to better liberate

When a startup is launched, it is in its best interest to rely on open-minded entrepreneurs, comfortable with minimal constraints, willing to explore new possibilities. It is important at this stage to have creative people to make a difference. But with success and expansion comes the need for management and organization. People who are motivated to take on management responsibilities are often more conservative, favoring the idea of preserving what has been built, of sustaining... A caution that is just as commendable and necessary. In fact, both poles must be represented in an organization.

To make these two tendencies compatible, hierarchies of competences are desirable, but they must be very clearly defined. Vagueness will always tend to tip over into a subordinate hierarchy, hence the importance of clarifying the domains, the constraints, for all, including for the elements with strong influence.

Clarifying the framework does not mean freezing things: James Priest thus evokes "heterarchy", which for him is the next generation business model for managing complexity. A system in which the elements of the organization are not classified, and can potentially be classified in different ways.

Stimulating desire to release potential

All human motivation has its origins in desire.

The desire for something that is ultimately not what you expected. A frustration, partial, renewed and driving.

The common denominator of human desire is to live as long as possible, with as little suffering as possible. By satisfying this basic desire with a salary, we create a lure, all the more effective as the environment suggests that this salary is difficult to obtain (crisis, unemployment...). In these conditions, humans put up with the working conditions even if they consider them unfair. But they are far from giving their best.

If an organization also satisfies other needs, social or self-esteem for example, it will shift the object of desire and thus stimulate the potential of each person. It is the opposite of the carrot at the end of the stick; giving the carrot to make people want more... A huge potential lies dormant in companies, which can be released if needs other than salary are met.

Unleash the potential to face tomorrow

Unlocking this potential and not waiting for the lack of it, which is detrimental to the development of the company, as we can see.

With automation, the development of AI, many menial or even skilled roles can be replaced. Companies are looking for people with ever more advanced skills, the demand is unmet, the unfilled positions numerous. Developing the company's internal potential, stimulating the desire to improve skills, is part of the answer.

The other part lies in the company's ability to attract talent, by offering welcoming working conditions, over and above remuneration: autonomy, responsibilities, meaning...

Aligning the planets

All organizations exist to create value by meeting needs. Beyond the needs it satisfies, a growing social expectation tends to require economic actors to have a clearly identifiable and understandable raison d'être, a mission.

For their part, individuals have an innate sense of what is more or less appropriate, right, wrong... The more the values and objectives of an individual and those of an organization are in line, the greater the commitment. The individual will give more meaning to his or her work, and there is a direct relationship between the level of meaning a person gives to his or her life and his or her propensity to assume responsibilities.

Whatever an organization's values, clarifying what they are and attracting people whose personal values are aligned facilitates interactions and improves collaboration.

Embracing differences

Sharing values does not mean agreeing on everything.

On a personal level, each of us has learned to view certain behaviors as more virtuous than others, depending on our life experiences. Behaviors are adopted or rejected because of their usefulness, their ability to meet our basic needs, to bring us closer to our goals. There are huge differences between people in terms of how they value their behaviors.

The same is true within the company. Any organizational culture will reveal both intrinsic values, those that are expressed by the sum of the behaviors of all actors, and aspirational values, those that are considered desirable to guide behavior in order to best serve the goals of the organization. These behavioral values may differ from one area of the organization to another. For example, the values inherent in the ambitions of a finance team may differ from those of a development team. This does not prevent them from working towards a common goal.

Cross-generational harmony

Each generation carries with it characteristics that are underrepresented, non-existent or disavowed by previous generations. But these characteristics are by definition the ones that will be useful for the future. An organization must observe the trends of new generations to create value, while maintaining the wisdom gained from past experiences. The young can learn from the old, the old can learn from the young, and those in the middle have the responsibility to bridge the gap to provide the best framework for change to emerge.

At the heart of the NextGen organization would be desire, meaning, values and harmony...

According to James Priest, we should primarily teach our children to identify their aspirations, to pursue what makes sense for them in life...

NextGen business is learned from the cradle.

Revolutionize your way of working now!