Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has been practicing Holacracy for decades

In the rapidly changing, more complex, volatile and unpredictable work environment there is a constant influx of new trends in the leadership development, some disappearing as mere fads, other may have a potential to stay longer. One of the new trends predicted to grow in 2015, as documented in the report from the Centre for Creative Leadership titled Future Trends in Leadership Development – is the “collective leadership”. Similar but more specific organizational governance systems are Holacracy or Sociocracy. In this report its authors write:
“Leadership development has come to a point of being too individually focused and elitist. There is a transition occurring from the old paradigm in which leadership resided in a person or role, to a new one in which leadership is a collective process that is spread throughout networks of people. The question will change from, “Who are the leaders?” to “What conditions do we need for leadership to flourish in the network?””

Interestingly enough, this approach has been used  in the music world for decades. If you have a better look at the attached photo (above), you will realize, that there is something missing – the conductor. The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has been “conductor-less” for many years since it has started in 1972 – very successful and flourishing. And beside the fact that they play exceptionally without a conductor, the orchestra promotes and teaches their innovative approach to organizations all over the world.

The Orpheus process ‘No Conductor, Many Leaders’, has been thoroughly described by the former executive director of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in his book Leadership Ensemble. Here he analyzes the Eight Orpheus Principles:
1. Put Power in the Hands of the People Doing the Work
2. Encourage Individual Responsibility for Product and Quality
3. Create Clarity of Roles
4. Share and Rotate Leadership
5. Foster Horizontal Teamwork
6. Learn to Listen, Learn to Talk
7. Seek Consensus
8. Dedicate Passionately to Your Mission

The late Harvard professor J.Richard Hackman in his foreword to this book compares watching an Orpheus rehearsal to ‘watching democracy in action’. He writes:
“The Experience of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra raises a strikingly different possibility. Rather than relying on a charismatic, visionary leaders who both calls the shots and engages members’ motivation, might it be possible for all member to share responsibility fore leadership, and for their differences and disagreements to be sources of creativity rather than something that should be suppressed in the interest of uniformity and social harmony?”