Autonomía digital y tecnológica

Código e ideas para una internet distribuida

Linkoteca. producción colaborativa


The book is broken up into chapters and sub-chapters. The chapters are:

This is a book about working in groups, based on 7 years experience in community projects and startups.

I’m not so interested in what you’re working on together, I’m just going to focus on how you do it. To my way of thinking, it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to build a better electric vehicle, or develop government policy, or blockade a pipeline; whenever you work with a group of people on a shared objective, there’s some stuff you’re going to deal with, some challenges. How do we decide what we’re working on? who does what? who can join our team? what are our expectations for each other? what happens when someone doesn’t fulfil those expectations? what do we do with disagreement? how do decisions get made?

I’m convinced there is not a “one size fits all” recipe, a management structure that you can take off the shelf and install in your collective or your company. But my hypothesis is that there are patterns: common design elements you can draw on as you construct a recipe that’s right for you. Each pattern in this book names a challenge that you are likely to face, and offers tools and techniques you can try in response to that challenge.

This is a book for community organisers, leaders, managers, consultants, coaches, facilitators, founders… if you work with groups of humans, these patterns apply to you.

I believe that this fascination with “hierarchy” and “non-hierarchy” is a major problem. Focussing on “hierarchy” doesn’t just miss the point, it creates cover for extremely toxic behaviour.

I’m guilty of this myself: having declared ourselves to be a “non-hierarchical” organisation, I’m unable to clearly see the un-just, un-accountable, un-inclusive, un-transparent, un-healthy dynamics that inevitably emerge in any human group. Calling ourselves “non-hierarchical” is like a free pass that gets in the way of our self-awareness.

Jo Freeman named this beautifully in The Tyranny of Structurelessness, where she argues that the informal hierarchies of a “structureless” group will always be less accountable and fair than a more formal organisation.

Freeman uses the word “structureless”, which is specific to the context of her 1960’s feminism. Today, you could swap “structureless” for “non-hierarchical” and get a very accurate diagnosis of a sickness that afflicts nearly every group that rejects hierarchical structures.

We’re coming up to the 50th anniversary of this essay, and still it seems the majority of radical organisations have missed the point.

So I repeat: I don’t care about hierarchy. It’s just a shape. I care about power dynamics.

I think words like “non-hierarchical”, “self-managing” and “horizontal” are kind of vague codes, pointing to our intention to create healthy power relations. In the past, when I said “Enspiral is a non-hierarchical organisation”, what I really meant was “Enspiral is a non-coercive organisation”. That’s the important piece, we’re trying to work without coercion.

Playing for Team Human today, master of human connection and consensus, Loomio co-founder Richard Bartlett. Bartett coming all the way from New Zealand, stopped by Douglas’s home studio while on a community organizing workshop tour of the US.

On today’s show, Bartlett and Rushkoff discuss the challenges of building consensus in an all too often top-down, winner-takes all society. Together we’ll learn how Loomio, inspired by the general assemblies of Occupy Wall Street, strives to amplify collaborative power and foster more participatory democratic practice. It’s a project that starts with small-scale, human-to-human connection and grows outward from there.

Decision Protocol: Consensus

For formal decisions, Enspiral uses consensus decision-making, a methodology with a specific meaning and practice. Consensus does not mean unanimous agreement or engagement from everyone on all decisions. The key concept is consent (you can live with it), which is distinct from agreement (it’s your preference or first choice).

Making Formal Decisions

Anyone can propose a formal decision at any time. We seek open, transparent decision-making and strive to enable the people who are affected by a decision to participate as fully as possible in making it. Enspiral tries to make decisions with the widest possible circle of participants, while recognising the necessity and wisdom of delegating responsibility for certain decisions.

Formal decisions are needed for the following areas (some with the whole network, some with a subset of people or by a process which has been delegated by an Agreement).

Agreements – creating new rules about how Enspiral works
Brand – using the Enspiral logo and identity publicly
Money – spending collective funds or for actions that impact our financial outlook
Tools & Processes – how the network as a whole will work and communicate
Relationships – commitments as a network with individuals or entities (such as invitations to membership, appointing directors, MOUs with ventures or other entities)
Buy-in & Awareness – when seeking a shared sense of ownership and support from the network as a whole