The Idea (What if it was easy?)
While organisations in the 19th century were principally designed around a patriarchal family model those in the 20th century (in the spirit of Max Weber and Frederick Winslow Taylor) were essentially mechanistic in design. Their ethos has been and is to ensure that a ‘idealised normality’ of simple, orderly, efficiency and certainty is both present and privileged. Consequently almost all ‘received wisdom’ in terms of organisation dynamics and institutional response in the past fifty years has followed that mantra.
Regrettably as the trailblazing entities of the emerging Collaborative Society emerge as an alternative force, in their internal arrangements they too often mimic the mechanistic arrangements of the very entities they are seeking to supplant. Over time these same internal mechanistic capacities erode the alternative ethos upon which these collaborative and networked entities rely.
This I would argue is in part because, while there are fragments everywhere, there is no easily accessible and shared Commons where frameworks and capacities (tools) are easily available (and able to be implemented) that are collaborative and networked in their design and effect. Further, there are few who offer any kind of navigation in this space beyond the use of any particular networking technology.
Using Open-source-ecology (the 50 machines every village needs) as an inspirational model it is proposed to develop a Commons where some yet to be determined number of proven, easy to understand and implement capacities that can empower ecological organisation everywhere are explicitly stated and made available. As with Open-source-ecology If they are not yet in any realisable form then design will be crowd sourced (and perhaps crowd funded?) The intent is to offer these as preferred alternatives to those espoused by conventional and so called high performance mechanistic organisations (e.g. lean thinking, six sigma etc.).
Critical to the nature of this Commons will be the development of a diversity of alternatives, not ‘the alternative’ and models / frameworks which are centred in the experience of those who are marginalised and oppressed and, providing they are relational in their ethos, they would ideally figure prominently. However with this diversity there needs to be some kind of (easy) navigation process.
The Extended Present and Emerging Future
Ecological capacity building is essential if alternative entities are to take advantage of changes in the way that societies consider time (from clock time to timeless time), form (from vertical to horizontal) and space (space of place to space of flows – spacetime) as a consequence of the widespread availability of networking technology and smart mobile devices. Together with a range of other factors these changes are already constraining the contemporary capitalist economy and are making possible a collaborative post capitalist economy. As these social enterprises take advantage of the shift in relational and transactional dynamics many are focused on building markets for exchange rather than markets for accumulation.
Furthermore the development of critical technologies like Ethereum provide the missing link in the development of distributed and decentralised forms of organisation. It is likely that a wide variety of yet to be realised social enterprise offerings will quickly build on top of Ethereum (see https://arcade.city and the use of swarm organisation) thus accelerating both the viability and visibility of many offerings. More importantly these offerings will ‘out-uber’ those who would constrain the power of the technology into the hands of a few netarchists. In summary there are now viable alternatives to economies of scale that can operate at the scale they determine without intuit determination being any way compromised by those that advocate both scale and normally organisation anonymity.
The architecture of the peer to peer economy is being rapidly iterated and while not in any way definitive as the diagram below illustrates many of its shapes are visible, understood and successfully deployed. As has been asserted earlier what seems to be missing is a set of internal dynamics that complement the excitement and attraction of the external dynamics. Two important points emerge from this consideration
- The architecture of the peer to peer economy can and should be used as the framework for the development of internal capacity building this concept suggests. In other words it models what it preaches.
- An internal peer to peer framework (like the P2P external model developed by Michel Bauwens below) needs to be developed that informs and empowers P2P offerings.
Finally the creation of this capacity engine must extend to contemporary organisations that while not conceived as ‘social enterprises’ are, through their intent and ethos, critical parts of an emerging civic sector that must define itself as different from, coexisting with and as important as both the public sector and the private sector. This new definition of a civic sector will allow important parts of the public sector that are now being claimed (and some would argue corrupted) by the private sector an alternative pathway and it also provides a space where work may be created and offered in a world where ‘work’ is being subsumed by robots and algorithms in other sectors. The development of ecological capacity will also provide (in co-designed partnership) important vehicles such as Bangladesh’s BRAC with viable alternatives to conventional models. This extension to not-for-profits and stakeholder benefit entities has design implications for this proposition as some who wish to build ecological rather than mechanistic capacity (for example B Corporations) may not intuitively have networking, commons and peer to peer in their DNA.
As has been asserted earlier this Ecological Capacity Ecosystem (ECE) is intended to be a design, capacity creation and navigation commons that makes available to both social enterprises and those that wish to find an alternative to mechanistic models, frameworks and viable components that can through their assemblage, initiate and then propagate ecological capacity that empowers external intention.
In the process of its creation and dissemination it will build an ecosystem of practitioners and navigators of ecological capacity.
The purpose of the ECE is to democratise knowledge and capacity about viable alternative organisation form to the dominant mechanistic model, in a way where commons based engines such as Ethereum are available to all – rather than captured by dominant interests.
From a resource perspective it requires the design of both an initial framework and some initial suggested capacities that can then be situated in a commons based framework.
As stewards it will build advocacy for the public and institutional frameworks that allow collaborative enterprise to operate with the same freedoms that private enterprises operate.
Mike McAllum – 26 April 2016
For comment and iteration
It should be noted that this emerging collaborative economy is not just another version of socialism – which was essentially a version of capitalism where mangement was by the collective – rather it is a new system that depends on a different form of social arrangement.