Everything that exists is hierarchically organized. This is evident. In fact, hierarchy, in the original sense of the word, meaning divine order, applies even to realms above the strictly rational and physical order.
A tiger is a more complex being than a petunia, thus it stands higher in the vertical hierarchy of nature. In their own right and in the total order of things both the tiger and the petunia are perfect: there is absolutely no potential left for them to actualize. The petunia will never develop the conscious faculties of the tiger and no day will ever come when the tiger reflects on itself, drawing the powerful conclusion: I am.
Things are different with people. Namely, none of us are actually perfect: there is always more potential left for us to actualize: both horizontally and vertically. Horizontally, there is always more to learn, or skills to perfect.
For the longest time, people followed nature and organized hierarchically.
Today we have artificial hierarchies determined by arbitrary considerations. The business domain epitomizes this: it managed to eliminate almost all organic elements from the roles it created, since it had closed itself off from the order of the intellect.
This means that nobody can find self-actualization in the current business domain! We have to stop and reflect on this!
It’s quite natural that there is no vertical relation between marketing and finance, between production and HR, etc. Also, due to the highly mechanical nature of roles, seniority has no substance anymore: anybody may walk into a CEO, a VP, a director, etc. role and learn the routine relatively quickly, irrespective of previous experience, education even personal disposition. This is especially true to fully artificial domains like HR and marketing. But to be fair, even in domains where substantial study is necessary, like finance, legal and various technical areas, the level of mechanization is such that it doesn’t take a lot of time to figure out the key success and failure factors and focus on these. Again: the machine doesn’t bestow any qualities on people.
Yet, we pretend to have true hierarchies. This results in injustice and gives birth to hubris and cynicism. A CEO role does not entail any organic verticality: the person who fills that role is not a higher level human being than a receptionist. No corporate roles contain any vertical element. They may entail some horizontal seniority, but not necessarily. Somebody who gets promoted to a VP role after 20 years at a company with 100,000 employees does not necessarily have deeper knowledge in a given domain than somebody with 5 years’ experience, without any title in a company with 20 employees. Quite often, the exact opposite is the case.
Nobody is in a position to judge anybody on any qualitative factor and yet this is exactly what happens. The freshly promoted senior manager is cynically briefed by her superiors: you have to learn how to “lead” your previous colleagues who are now “your” team; hiring committees are digging into people’s professional and personal life to dig up dirt and treat candidates – from an implied superior stance – as if they were inferior beings; same happens between investors or bankers and entrepreneurs; the whole concept of a “boss” reflects this hubris; the list is long. The stupidity of such false confidence is revealed by this simple tenet: “they want something from us more than we want something from them”. Mass walk-offs always offer a reality check to see social interdependencies and trigger (mostly fake) apologies.
All this being said, we have to notice that we can’t kill nature. To paraphrase Nicholas Taleb: surround yourself with poets and plumbers only and shun the lawyers, investment bankers and career people in general. The trick is to do this in the office or to create an environment where this is possible.
 They had vertically aligned institutions and these institutions enabled people to actualize horizontal and vertical potentials. These institutions reflected the four fundamental domains of organic organization (from top to bottom): the intellect, power, distribution and production. Intellect and power are concerned with the Truth. Fair distribution of surplus production to ensure material and intellectual wealth for the community is the actual domain of business. When proper alignment is achieved, there is harmony in the social order and the Truth prevails on all levels. On the business level this means honesty and fairness. As we know, for at least 2500 years there is no harmony in the social order, but a weak practice doesn’t disqualify a perfect ideal – in fact, without aiming at a perfect ideal we can’t strengthen our practice.
Related to this topic is our conversation on authenticity.