Autonomía digital y tecnológica

Código e ideas para una internet distribuida

Linkoteca. Richard Barlett


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.