• GERARD FAIRTLOUGH ex-Shell and founder of Celltech


There are three general ways for getting things done in organizations. The first is the most traditional: hierarchy. The second is dispersed rule, or heterarchy, in which power is shared between different units or people. The separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government is a good example of heterarchy. In a heterarchical system there is reciprocal influence and co-evolution between the elements of the system. The third way is autonomy or self-organization, within a framework of accountability, which is a fundamental principle of Complex Evolving Systems. Despite these alternatives there is a widespread belief that organizations must have hierarchy. This applies to all kinds of organization - business, not-for-profit and governmental - and through them to society generally. This addiction to hierarchy has genetic and cultural roots. People claim hierarchy is needed for systematic working, discipline, leadership and motivation. Gerard Fairtlough will show that hierarchy is unnecessary, that our addiction to it is irrational, that the arguments used to support it are wrong, and that there are excellent alternatives, based on complexity principles.


  1. GerardFair.pdf
  2. GerardPlenary.pdf