Glossary

Hierarchy

A body of persons in authority; classification according to relative standing, high to low. Originally a rank of angels, then a ruling body of clerics with subordinate rankings.

Holarchy

An organizational structure formed on principles of holism and synergy in which the relationship between participants is not based on rank or relative development but on mutual support and contribution based on the strengths of individual differences.

MORE: Holarchy is an organizational structure in which the relationship between participants is not based on rank or relative development but on mutual support and contribution expressed in an holistic fashion. Holarchy, based on the concept of holism, functions as an ecology of participants who are mutually reinforcing and co-creative regardless of their respective stations or overall capacities. In a holarchy, importance is laid not on position but on difference, on the contributions that can arise from unique individual perspectives and capacities, and on a structure of communication and respect that allows information, insights, energy, creativity, and command to circulate globally through the system and not be restricted to vertical or horizontal channels particularly of a one way nature. This global circulation benefits both the whole and each individual participant. Holarchy contrasts with hierarchy in which structure and function emphasize rank and position and in which communication, command and control generally flow along vertical channels from higher to lower.
Etymology: a neologism formed from holism and hierarchy
—David Spangler for Seven Pillars Review, October 2008

 

Holism

A view that nature and the universe are composed of interacting wholes and not simply the sum of discrete constituent elements; the production of wholes from orderly groupings of units.

Synergy

Cooperative working where the whole or effect is greater than the sum of the parts. In modern scientific usage, combined action of groups, as of medicines, faculties or organs.

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