The Trillion-Dollar Vision of Dee Hock: The corporate radical who organized Visa wants to dis-organize your company

Fast Company has a fascinating article on the founder of Visa and his theories on organizations. I encourage you to read the whole piece, but below are some of the insights that I found especially intriguing. 

”’The better an organization is, the less obvious it is,’ he says. ‘In Visa, we tried to create an invisible organization and keep it that way. It’s the results, not the structure or management that should be apparent.’”

“What he read convinced him that the command-and-control model of organization that had grown up to support the industrial revolution had gotten out of hand. It simply didn’t work. Command-and-control organizations, Hock says, ‘were not only archaic and increasingly irrelevant. They were becoming a public menace, antithetical to the human spirit and destructive of the biosphere. I was convinced we were on the brink of an epidemic of institutional failure.’”

“Visa has been called ‘a corporation whose product is coordination.’ Hock calls it ‘an enabling organization.’ He also sees it as living proof that a large organization can be effective without being centralized and coercive. ‘Visa has elements of Jeffersonian democracy, it has elements of the free market, of government franchising — almost every kind of organization you can think about,’ he says. ‘But it’s none of them. Like the body, the brain, and the biosphere, it’s largely self-organizing.’”

“Hock had read about the Santa Fe Institute and its work on ‘the edge of chaos’: the notion that healthy, adaptive systems will always exhibit a kind of dynamic tension between chaos and order. It fit in beautifully with the dynamic tension that he’d set up in Visa: encourage as much competition and initiative as possible throughout the organization — ‘chaos’ — while building in mechanisms for cooperation — ‘order.’ Hock had even coined a new word to describe this kind of tension. A system that was both chaotic and ordered was ‘chaordic.’” 

“‘Because what we’re trying to do is build a community. And it’s only when that community has solid agreement on purposes and principles that you can start talking about the concept and structure of the organization.’”

“It’s not so crazy to think of Visa — ‘the corporation whose product is coordination’ — as a model for how these networked organizations of the future could be managed. As Hock says, ‘Inherent in Visa is the archetype of the organization of the 21st century.’”

The Trillion-Dollar Vision of Dee Hock: The corporate radical who organized Visa wants to dis-organize your company

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