A Techy Management Fad Gives Workers More Power—Up to a Point
Holacracy aims to liberate workers from micromanagement by replacing bosses with code-like rules modeled on computer programming.
For a week last year, I visited the unMonastery, a multinational community of techies led by a 27-year-old English museum curator who wears a black robe. They had gained access to an Ethernet-equipped complex of hillside caves in Matera, Italy, where they were trying to adapt the sixth-century Rule of St. Benedict, which governs most Catholic monasteries, for the secular age of open-source software. The experiment was both poignant and fraught—poignant in how it dramatized some ways that technology transforms the practice of community, and fraught in the participants’ inability to agree on what their rules would actually be.
As if I might do better, I left with an irrepressible impulse to start drafting rules of my own. And rather than the Latin chapters and verses of Benedict’s rule, I wrote mine in a programming language called Python.