is a Holon?
Twenty-five years ago, the Hungarian author
and philosopher Arthur Koestler proposed the word "holon" to describe a
basic unit of organization in biological and social systems. Holon is a
combination of the Greek word holos, meaning whole, and the suffix on meaning
particle or part.
Koestler observed that in living organisms
and in social organizations entirely self-supporting, non-interacting entities
did not exist. Every identifiable unit of organization, such as a single
cell in an animal or a family unit in a society, comprises more basic units
(plasma and nucleus, parents and siblings) while at the same time forming
a part of a larger unit of organization (a muscle tissue or a community).
A holon, as Koestler devised the term,
is an identifiable part of a system that has a unique identity, yet is
made up of sub-ordinate parts and in turn is part of a larger whole.
The strength of holonic organization, or
holarchy, is that it enables the construction of very complex systems that
are nonetheless efficient in the use of resources, highly resilient to
disturbances (both internal and external), and adaptable to changes in
the environment in which they exist. All these characteristics can be observed
in biological and social systems.
The stability of holons and holarchies
stems from holons being self-reliant units, which have a degree of independence
and handle circumstances and problems on their particular level of existence
without asking higher level holons for assistance. Holons can also receive
instruction from and, to a certain extent, be controlled by higher level
holons. The self-reliant characteristic ensures that holons are stable,
able to survive disturbances. The subordination to higher level holons
ensures the effective operation of the larger whole.
Tecnix, LLC has applied these principles
to business systems of using best in class services to create a whole that
is stronger than any single entity.