chaordic organization

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A chaordic organization is a form of organization formulated by Dee Hock and others in forming the VISA organization (Hock, 1999). The term 'chaord' is formed from the words 'chaos' and 'order'. In the formation of the VISA organization, a means was designed to allow for the simultaneous cooperation and competition of the member banks of the VISA issuing network. This was necessary for the scale and universality needed to make credit cards usable in any geography and to provide low costs of processing each transaction. Dee Hock's vision of this type of organization was largely, but not fully, achieved by the VISA organization at the time it was first formed.

Hock's vision of a chaordic organization --
Chaord - (kay'ord) 1: any autocatalytic, self-regulating, adaptive, nonlinear, complex organism, organization, or system, whether physical, biological or social, the behavior of which harmoniously exhibits characteristics of both order and chaos. 2: an entity whose behavior exhibits patterns and probabilities not governed or explained by the behavior of its parts.

Chaordic - (kay'ordic) 1: anything simultaneously orderly and chaotic. 2: patterned in a way dominated neither by order nor chaos. 3: existing in the phase between order and chaos.

Dee Hock's principles for the VISA design

  • Power and function in the system must be distributed to the maximum degree possible
  • The system must be self-organizing
  • Governance must be distributed
  • The system must seamlessly blend both collaboration and competition
  • The system must be infinitely malleable, yet extremely durable
  • The system must be owned cooperatively and equitably

Later, the characteristics for a chaordic organization were defined as --

  • Enduring in purpose and principle
  • Powered from the periphery, unified from the core
  • Exist to enable constituent parts
  • Equitably distribute power, rights, responsibilities, and rewards
  • Fluid webs of cooperation and competition
  • Cannot be managed; can only be led
  • Compatible with the human spirit and biosphere