Hierarchy

December 24, 2014

This is a study on organizational hierarchy. It assumes good faith from all parties involved, and that the organization exists without external threats — when at peace, hierarchies typically flatten, but when threatened, hierarchies grow taller, establishing a distinct chain of command.

The scope of this study does not consider an organization on the size of a large government — the scale of the organization in mind is one with more than a handful but fewer than a thousand people. This study also assumes the organization exists within a greater existing government system, such as the United States, due to the world-wide lack of free legal movement between our competing socio-economic systems. Given that this organization would exist within, say, the United States, there’s no reason to consider fantasies. As such, this hierarchy takes on some elements of corporatism.

If you wish to break from all pre-existing socio-economic government on a superficial but practical level, you could always dump whatever capital you have into purchasing the deed of whatever wilderness still remains out there, in a way that your pre-existing government recognizes as legitimate. It is likely, though, that they will require continued tribute, so you must either have a lot of saved-up capital, continue to interact with the outside world somewhat, or have someone who’s willing to pay the bill for you. You’ll never break completely, though. Your knowledge, and tools if you bring any, will be thanks to what you’re breaking from.

It’s also worth noting that our world is anarchy. The socio-economic systems we have today exist because they won, or at very least they haven’t lost yet. It’s highly unlikely you’ll beat them if you take them on directly. All you can do is chip away at a pre-existing system’s legitimacy, and that is done by refraining from taking part in it. If your goal is to beat a system, all you can do is hope enough people delegitimize it to the point that people who otherwise wouldn’t question its legitimacy start doing so. It’s also highly likely that whatever replaces that delegitimized system will make the same mistakes the previous system made.

With that all said, let’s begin:

Horizontal hierarchies place everyone on equal footing, but they are slow to react, are a breeding ground for cliques, and can easily lose direction and purpose.

Vertical hierarchies on the other hand are typically quick to react from the top–down, but are slow to react from the bottom–up, and are prone to cliques based on hierarchic level. Vertical hierarchies also have big issues with bureaucracy as well — from the top–down, bureaucracy is what makes vertical hierarchies so effective, but from the bottom–up, bureaucracy creates a sense of futility that results in non-responsiveness or scorn.

For emphasizing individual happiness, the ideal between the two would be a fairly horizontal organization with intentionally minimal verticality, allowing for equal footing and communal steering.

The lowest level of an organization would be the people who only technically exist within its domain, but don’t actually care about its continued existence. These people are more or less anti-social and just want to do their own thing in the periphery, or are affiliated with other organizations. They’re guests. If there were organizational dues, they would not pay them. Instead, they would pay their own way for things they need, buying access to individual services provided by the organization at values above their true cost. These guests really only have a buyer–seller relationship with the organization.

The second level of the organization would be members. They pay full dues and the organization provides them with all its services. They can do whatever they want with their time in the organization, but in exchange for the organization’s support, they are transparent to the organization with what they are doing, and share what they make back with the organization at pre-determined rates. Members can only vote within the organization by going out of their way to attend regular assemblies.

The third level of the organization would be cadre. The organization is shaped by the cadre’s work, but cadre receive the same benefits as members. Cadre are more or less workers and clerks directed by the organization’s fourth hierarchical level, but the cadre also receive reimbursement for their time given to the organization in the form of waved dues. Cadres organize and run regular assemblies, as well as manage any duties required for keeping the organization running smoothly.

The fourth and final level of the organization are chiefs. Chiefs lead a project for betterment of the organization, and manage cadre who volunteer for their project. Chiefs talk with their cadre and communicate with other chiefs, but chiefs do not run regular assemblies. However, members and chiefs can call for and run special assemblies about projects. The difference between a regular assembly and a special assembly is that regular assemblies happen in regular intervals, and special assemblies happen whenever they’re desired, attended by anyone who cares. When discussions from special assemblies are pertinent to the group, they are mentioned and discussed at regular assemblies.

Members interact with the political side of the organization through the cadre, who are themselves working for the chiefs, aside from a member-elected cadre who maintain group order and affairs, whose only chief could said to be the group. Each cadre is a member who has volunteered their time to a specific chief and their project, and a cadre’s continued willingness to work is a show of faith in their chief and project. There is no barrier for entry to be a cadre, but dues reimbursement is based off work finished, not status.

Chiefs are members with a project in mind, that other members believe would benefit the organization if completed, and are given legitimacy as chiefs by members appointing themselves cadre to their projects. Chiefs are more or less temporary project managers and are apolitical — they focus solely on the successful completion of their project and management of their project’s cadre.

Members interested in helping the organization beyond simple association and dues payment would frequent the organization’s regular assemblies with cadre and chiefs, and any special assemblies they have an interest in.

The weakest point of such an organizational structure would be the amount of information moving around. It would be easy to utilize a hyperlinked digital system for that, but that is a fairly specific solution, and one I possibly only thought of due to personal familiarity with the Internet. The organization would also need a way to socialize new members.

The biggest threat to the organization would be a lack of enthusiasm, resulting in a collapse of the vertical social order. If that happens, the organization could form cliques and tear itself apart, with the fat-and-happy group stubbornly sitting in place while the young-and-hungry group pulls in whatever direction they want. The fat-and-happy group could always stop paying dues when they have no confidence in the organization, but after a long period of happy stagnation, it’s likely they would be personally close with the member-elected group-order cadre, and they would feel some attachment to the group after all their time spent in it.

In any case, there’s no sense in me designing a better mousetrap just because I’m bored.