Friday, August 14, 2009


Okay. Organizing and organizations as a human need. Sounds a bit strange. But really, if we are going to get anything done, we are going to have to find ways of working together and working together well.

In order to get any type of work done, we need energy. But, although there are many folks that prefer to work alone, when we work with others we get much more done. And if there is more than one or two of us working together, structure helps. That's what organizing is all about.
It doesn't mean we have to have bureaucracy. If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that I advocate decentralized structure. But structure, nevertheless. Organization to get the work done.

This also doesn't mean organization for the sake of organization. In fact, I think many organizational structures should be temporary. Just as I think we need to avoid bureaucracy, we need to avoid institutions--organizations that seem to exist primarily to perpetuate themselves. Organization exists to achieve certain goals. When the goal is met, often the need for the organization is over. I think the transition movement is smart about this. The steering group that helps guide the initial effort deliberately plans its own demise. (See my post on Transition Towns--10/16/08)

In spite of things like bureaucracy and institutionalization, organizations and organizing are an important part of life. Early on, in my post on Creating Social Change, I blogged on the motto: "Agitate, Educate, Organize". Organizing is part of the process of social change, part of getting work done, part of how we will need to live.

Covey, Stephen, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People--Covey devotes a chapter to 'Principles of Creative Cooperation', outlining the habit he calls 'Synergize'; this is a way to build on the fact that the whole is more than the sum of it's parts, so as we work together new things can emerge; as he points out, 'All nature is synergistic'; our organizations should be as well
Jo Freeman, "The Tyranny of Structurelessness"--The need for structure, in fact the impossibility of 'structurelessness', and how those advocating for 'structureless' organizations are usually the ones benefitting from obscuring power dynamics
Steven Johnson, "Two ways to emerge, and how to tell the difference between them"--A chapter of a book on cybernetic democracy that I liked so well I devoted a post to it (see Clustering and Coping--8/13/08); it talks about two different ways that organization can emerge and what makes the difference
Bruce Kokopeli and George Lakey, Leadership for Change--A manual on the difference between leaders and leadership; organizations need leadership, they don't need leaders; this little booklet is available from Training for Change

Also see the resources in my posts on Communal and Cooperative Resources (10/12/08) and SLoDBN Resources (12/15/08)

Quote of the Day: "Don't agonize. Organize." - Forynce Kennedy

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