Holacracy is an a form of self-governance in organizations that attempts to get beyond hierarchical, directive structures and enable "flat," peer-to-peer management. Rather than relying on the static forms associated with the 20th century, holacracy seeks to mimic natural living systems in organizational contexts. It aims to give teams and individuals more autonomy while making meetings more efficient and organizations more agile and responsive.
The term "holocracy" derives from the word "holon," which was coined by Arthur Koestler in his 1967 book The Ghost in the Machine. A holon is a whole that itself is part of a larger whole -- a structure that is seen throughout nature, in which, for example, molecules, cells, organs, organisms are each quasi-autonomous but nested within larger systems. A holarchy is a large, integrated system based on the self-organized governance of interrelated holons.
Holacracy had its origins in software businesses, according to the website Holacracy, html which provides workshops and training on how organizations can adopt holoacracy.html explaining holacratic principles. But holonic principles have also been embraced by ecological and metaphysical philosophers such as Joanna Macy and Ken Wilbur, who blend holonics with ideas of complexity theory, emergence and spiritual renewal.
Holacracy is seen as a way to overcome the pathologies of centralized, hierarchical systems that deny our subjective agency and objectify nature, technology and other people. Mihaela Ulieru writes:
"[M]arkets, individual self-interest and libertarianism are incapable of solving societal and environmental problems because they are committed to the illusion that man occupies the top of a cosmic hierarchy and that power and politics are tools to enforce certain rules that favor 'winners.' This perspective is unable to encompass care about human beings in their wholeness, as can be actualized, for example, through the commons and by working together for the greater good.
The challenge of our time is to embrace the reality of group interests and to devise governance systems that include those marginalized by elites who have commandeered “the system” to secure their economic authority. Collective provisioning, as in group health insurance, is not a state-based “socialism” but in holonic terms, a blending of the interests of the whole and of each and every individual.
Joel Dietz, "Principles of Holonic Philosophy," P2P Foundation wiki, November 22, 2026 html
Holacracy Constitution in German pdf