‘Everything, Everywhere’ — Part 2 (learning how to work together)

We are becoming increasingly connected as a society and as individuals and it’s readily apparent that networks will change how we do things in the future.

What’s not so easy is visualising the how and why of this change.

For the purpose of illustration I’d like to expand on the dimensionality aspect suggested in Part 1 and focus quickly on organisations.

Here’s an attempt to visualise how today’s way of working will be transformed by our organisation through and interaction within networks.

Hierarchical and transactional models…

  1. Us and them — we deal with organisations every day.
  2. Signposting — sometimes we need to deal with several organisations all of whom perform one part of the problem we are trying to solve.
  3. Partnerships / Wrap around services — In some instances organisations are recognising that working together can realise better results and efficiencies. Some form of information sharing is required between the organisations in order for this model to operate.

In the instances above we are the recipient of a transaction or a service. We have very little input into the process and there is a high level of inequality between the parties.

Networks allow us to create new models of organising and working together.

Networked and relational…

4. Networked model — In this model of working each participant (organisation, person) can be represented as a plane that surrounds a 3 dimensional space.

The recipient of services becomes an empowered participant in the meeting of their need.

The inner space that is formed can be thought of as containing: connected thoughts and actions, understanding, relationships, emotions, shared values, shared assets, and shared knowledge.

5. Organisational Transformations — Developing the skills required for working as part of a network leads to a change in behaviours and expectations of involved staff members and the development of new capacities.

These new skills, behaviours, and knowledge can eventually be applied internally within the participating organisation, further reinforcing and accelerating transition towards more relational, participative, and open models of working.

6. An Innovation & Actualisation Space — New organisations, services, and solutions will arise from working together and organising in new ways.

There is potential for very different, innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to be tried, tested, and scaled.

Entrepreneurs can identify network gaps or even decide to start up entirely new organisations that are more adaptable and able to operate in more rapidly shifting configurations.

These models need not be limited just to a specific service delivery. They can encompass entire sectors or operate cross-sector, include other networks or communities of practice, and provide prominent and integrated status to otherwise external concerns such as: Environment, Wellbeing, Waste, Sustainability, Fair Trade, Transport, Resources, Local Economy.

They may even help in conceptualising and understanding what solidarity economies look like, where intersectionality exists, and what commons or public goods can be maintained, protected, or brought into being.

Moving past the superficial

A three dimensional model of networks might allow us to conceive of conceptual building blocks with which to construct a world which behaves very differently — oriented around the change of status from receiver to participant, the importance of equality and trust, equity and equality, and the need for developing skills and capacities associated with communication, relationships and mutual care.

To meet the potential offered by this deeper relational space requires that we develop both ourselves and our organisations, we will all need to develop different skills and capacities.

Personal, career, organisational, and institutional development models can all be connected to these networked ways of working. Just as local needs and the environment can become shared values and responsibilities, so can mutual assistance and development.

This ability to work and organise differently offers the opportunity to grow and scale the consultancies which specialise in working with organisations to; develop people and happiness, create genuine caring relationships with staff, and raise client relationships to the status of co-creators and partners.

There is little stopping civil society or business reconfiguring aspects of their work today and there is nothing stopping institutions creating and collaborating as networks either.

Sometimes all that’s required is for the possibilities and benefits to be communicated in a different way or for a form of literacy to be developed and shared, a common language with which to develop our networked abilities.

There is no shortage of imagination or creativity in the world and with the right conditions something new can be built through the old and the new connecting, collaborating, and cooperating in exciting and unthought of ways.

Less economic and mechanic. More mutual and rewarding.

Mass Parallelism, a break from the linear

Networks also allow us to escape another real world constraint.

Organisations operate in a very linear way, it matches their hierarchical and authoritarian structure, everything moves along a timeline.

Networks don’t need to do this. They can operate without the same lines of authority and management.

We can see this at work pretty easily in the open source movement.

Yet this can also be applied to Social Action, Thought, Ideas, Innovation, Knowledge, Public Goods, The Commons.

But how do we avoid reproducing the problems we already have?

Please read on in ‘Everything, Everywhere’ — Part 2 (Spaces for Collaboration and Cooperation)

As people and as organisations we will need to learn how to do things differently and adapt.

Founder of Socially Enterprising / Commoner / Mostly Unemployed.