new videos
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.

more videos from
the PDC here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

independent / consensus / dictator hybrid  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22166
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have an on-line community I manage.  I mean, other than this one.  The other one is about 20 times bigger than this one getting about 150,000 people per day.

The site is run by about 40 volunteers.  I play a rather small role there because the volunteers do such an excellent job. 

Many years ago I made this private document that outlined the decision making process.  I made this document in 2004 or so when we had a lot of staff bickering about things and the overall vibe of the site was getting pretty icky.  Now people don't get mad at each other.  They just sometimes get mad at me.  But it passes.  And we go on.  After all, the site belongs to me.  The only real option is to leave.  But .... it is an on-line family.  Of really cool and decent people.  And time passes and things get back to being awesome.

So I dug up that document and made it public.  This is the document unaltered.

independent / consensus / dictator hybrid

 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 9893
Location: Portugal
891
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Interesting reading!

It reminds me a little of the way we run our family, which follows the basic tenet of

"Whatever Dad says, goes." 

With one little proviso...

"Unless Mom disagrees." 

It sounds crazy, but my other half usually makes pretty good decisions, and he knows that if I do ever disagree, it's because it means a lot to me, and so far he's backed down if I've disagreed.  Both times.

I particularly liked this bit of your document...

Sometimes a dicator has a gun and you don't. That dictator tells you what to do and you weigh if that something is worth dying over - or general bullet hole pain.

Sometimes a dictator gives you money in exchange for doing what the dictator says. You weigh if doing that something is worth the cash flow.

Sometimes a dictator has something on you. You weigh doing what you are told, or else people will see that awkward picture of you with the goat.

Sometimes a dictator is on a pedestal. You weigh doing what you are told in the hopes of getting praise or avoiding harsh words.

Sometimes a dictator has nothing. You do what the dictator says because on some level it amuses you. If there is no amusement, you don't do it.


I think my true motives have finally been uncovered 
 
Jo York
Posts: 56
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like the ideas of plurality vote for a committee that runs things with an elected presiding officer in charge of enforcing the majority rule or unanimous decisions. Plurality vote is where if you're having a committee of nine, everyone writes down nine names and the people with the most votes are on the committee. The committee can be re-elected at a certain time annually or twice annually, whatever. It's all done in silence with no campaigning or nominations. People choose those they think are best suited to the job, and write nine names on a piece of paper. The committee votes in its own presiding officer plus maybe a vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. The committee is run by parliamentary procedure, and basic tenets for operating is that committee members should try to have spiritual attributes about the whole deal, not try to dictate and dominate. An agenda is set for the committee by the community, and anyone can ask to be heard or for issues to be considered by the committee. The committee members have an obligation to do research and to hear out others' research. Together they try to reach unanimous agreement, but if they can't, they take a vote and the majority rules. At least a quorum of five of the nine members has to be present to make a decision. The presiding officer implements the decisions unless someone comes to him or her with a compelling reason to hold the decisions in abeyance until further issues can be considered by the committee. -- Other than that, I like the dictator approach and people can take it or leave it. Sometimes it takes one vision and if you don't have a good enough idea to change the visionary's vision, then maybe you should take it or leave it. So a dictator that holds consultative meetings might also work, and then that dictator makes the decisions and everyone goes with it. The main thing I don't like is leaders who don't lead, workers who undermine the process, and low levels of cooperation and productivity. That's all just a waste of time in my opinion.
 
Raven Sutherland
Posts: 164
Location: MAINE
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dictatorship is what we have in America
the only difference is the Dicator's name is "Government"  imho

when you disagree with the dictator he sends out troops or police to arrest you
unless you have a permit already to hold a peaceful demonstration
if not, off you go to jail for lack of a permit.

Now if the government were a true democracy they could simply get
on the news and say...   whats your idea   about leaving the middle east
now or   ten years from now....   it would easily be a landslide decision.


the dictator government doesn't want to leave ther middle east because
they know better and have EXPERTS on the job that know more than you.

So your opinion really has no value even though your the one footing the bill.
Saying that your political vote is your way of improving the community every
four years doesn't get anything done in the NOW.

So what if the best expert was the majority of the peoples will
combined. then everyone wouldn't feel so removed from the process.

This was not an attempt to start a political discussion by any means
just a way to illustrate that the expert should be the one to make suggestions on any particular direction based upon their success rate which made them the go to expert in the first place.
 
Len Ovens
pollinator
Posts: 1452
Location: Vancouver Island
29
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think there is more to the dictator than just being there first.... although being first might come from the something more. I think there is a type of personality required.... and that personality type may change depending on the kind of project. How long the project lasts may depend on how well the dictator fits that project.... or it may just indicate how long that project was meant to last. Lots of variables.

That was a good write up. You could make minor changes forever, and end up still saying the same thing.
 
                          
Posts: 56
Location: Bremerton, Washington
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Your article was good.  I can see the efficiency behind the design, and the implied caring for the community, as well as the humility of recognizing the strength of its individuals (who may often be plenty wise enough to make executive decisions themselves).

If I may ask, what is this other online community to which you refer?  I'd like to check it out if I could.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22166
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul talks about community models in his podcast on intentional community: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/310-podcast-037-intentional-community/
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
He also talks about this model in part 2: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/322-podcast-042-intentional-community-part-2/
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul and Jocelyn discuss consensus based community and Paul's willingness to be an asshole in this podcast: podcast 110
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul talks with Josiah Wallingford, who redid the wordpress site for Paul's podcasts, about getting started with his enthusiasm for a more permaculture lifestyle.
Podcast 118 - How to Dive in to Permaculture

They talk about trying out intentional communities.
 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 356
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think this might actually be the best decision making, at the evolutionary state of our mankind.

Most times decisions can be taken from the individual, as we relax an authority fist. Most matters are kind of consensus and do not need to be talked about. For example, discussing about whether or not to do recycling: no need, everyone will agree on that. And in minor details, because if someone disagrees then it's also not a big deal.

Consensus for some important matters, and if there is a significant dispute, then a dictator approach might work. The leader decides.

In an intentional community, what happens is that either 1) one ondividual or group of them owns the land and is therefore the leader, or 2) there are shares, decisions must required an enforced consensus or there might be a leader, elected ot assigned. However shared decision making (usually by a mix of consesus and votes) is an unstable system, because disputes might cause break-up of the community due to someone owing a share of the land might be unhappy if an important decisison is taken that he/she disagrees. If this happens, it's like a divorce: it's a big mess. Differently, in 1) there is no democracy unless the leader is willing to discuss most matters to a consensus. This lack of democracy often affects most communities that do not have a shared decision making, but might last longer because conflicts nearly never pose a risk to the community existence.

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22166
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here it is many years later. I have land. There are about 20 people here now.

I have had several people tell me that there needs to be more/better management. They have gone so far as to say that I need to be dramatically more involved in all the projects going on simultaneously. I ask them to go all the way and list off all of the other things that could use more of my time, then when their list is done, do the math and it seems like I should be putting in 80 hours more per week than I already do. Naturally, I cannot add that much to my plate. Their response to that is that I need to hire managegers. At least two.

So my response is that there are two general styles of management:

A) Structured management. This is what most businesses use. Everything is documented to the gills and people spend about a third of their time creating paperwork about work. Or in meetings learned about new types of paperwork. Usually there is one manager for every three people. Everything is VERY organized. If a problem is discovered the attitude is usually "it's not my problem."

B) Organic management. Used by only a few businesses. Little to no organization. Little to no paperwork. People don't have a "title" or "a job" so much as they understand what is being attempted and are trying to help reach that goal. If a problem is discovered the attitude is usually "I'll take care of this - or find somebody who will."

A person that is used to structured management will probably not like organic. And a person that is used to organic, probably won't like structured.

A person that thinks we need more management is probably most comfortable with structured.

I have to say that I like organic management. Both as the worker bee and as the manager. And we lean heavily on the independent/consensus/dictator hybrid stuff. So rather than giving worker bees clear directions on what the work is and how it is done, we lean on people understanding what we're trying to accomplish and people try work out the choreography amongst themselves on how to get there.

If one can assume that management will be weak (and that means that I am playing the role of crappy manager) then how does the choreography get worked out so that forward effort is optimized (without folks working in opposite directions)? We've been implementing some stuff from my old corporate whore days. One thing I used to do was train people in a lightweight software engineering technique called "extreme programming". So I am stealing parts of that to be used for our projects here. Once every three months or so we have "release planning" (yes, we need a better permie name for this) - so we do an overview of the projects that we might touch on in the next three months and add stuff to the list. Next, every two weeks we do "iteration planning" where we go over the tasks for the next two weeks and different people sign up to take ownership of tasks. Finally, each morning we do a ten minute standup where each person spends 30 seconds sharing what they did yesterday and 30 more seconds sharing what they will do today.

For the two week iteration, each person signs up for three days of stuff. Two days of bread labor and one day of soul labor. When working on your tasks, other folks will help. And it is expected that sometime during the two weeks, you will help others. It is by working together that there is excellent exchange of information.

This is not a perfect system. But I think it does a lot so that people get to experience lots more stuff and build more skills. While at the same time, we can have forward velocity without a bunch of strict management.

 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 761
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
45
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

who needs bosses?


http://www.businessinsider.com.au/watch-this-self-organising-robot-construction-crew-build-towers-without-a-foreman-2014-2

Watch This Self-Organising Robot Construction Crew Get To Work Building A Tower Without A Foreman


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFwk303p0zY
Designing Collective Behavior in a Termite-Inspired Robotic Construction Team
 
Rus Williams
pollinator
Posts: 152
Location: Zutphen, The Netherlands
22
books forest garden
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I do a lot of stuff around this kind of planning. It's hard to say anything intelligent without the specifics being known. But one thing that I can say is we often find it useful to set a really long term target (or targets) that everyone agrees on, ones that are unreachable from this point. Then we order the milestones that we need to pass through to get to that point. Then we list the projects that we need to complete to reach the milestones.

Many of the decisions around which project to begin/ complete then become pretty obvious. It's just the next one.
One of the interesting things that often happens is that this creates a lot of motivation to do projects that are not that interesting because it becomes clear to everyone that without this project being complete, many other ones are not possible.

This subject of design around projects and people is possibly the place where the biggest change is needed, old corporate models, while they can be extremely valuable, are often very limited.
 
Paul Kean
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Paul,

I am developing a project in Tasmania with the long term vision of creating an Educational Community. Basically a demonstration site for sustainable agriculture based on Permaculture design.

Not being a literary type but playing with the text to create governance of people living on the project, I have found your dictator hybrid doc exactly what I have been want to say but didn't know how to write it.

Would you mind if I incorporate this text into my project governance?

Feel free to visit our web page and Facebook to see what we are doing.

www.tigerhillpermaculture.net

Facebook: Tiger Hill Permaculture.

tigerhillfarm@gmail.com

Cheers,

Paul
 
Richard Gorny
pollinator
Posts: 264
Location: Poland, zone 5
48
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul, thanks for sharing that, this is very interesting. By sign up for the task you mean taking ownership of this particular item on to do list?
How do you manage other resouces required for projects (procurement, cash flow, etc.)?
Are you the one who is making decisions on priorities or this also is being discussed/voted?
I strongly believe that structured management kills initiative, creativity and joy of work sooner or later in majority of cases. I have years of exactly same experience with meetings devoted to discussing paperworks on how to produce more paperworks.
I had also a chance to work in an environment quite similar to yours with one difference - short meetings were held at the start, at lunch and at the end of working day (very brief) in order to react to any unexpected events or specific needs. This was a very effective form of managment, and a pleasure to be a part of.
 
Paul Kean
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Richard,

as I am the payer of the bills and the entrusted custodian of the land, I have the final say on all things. As the project is in the initial design stages and all levels of experience of volunteers are coming on board, there is an organic approach. To reduce wasted effort and resources the goal is to spend more time thinking than actually doing to get things designed well. With this, everyone's input is welcomed and considered. We don't just do because we want to. Some conscious thought processes must be undertaken first.

As I am the payer of bills for peoples mistakes, I encourage thinking before doing on every level.

"If you can't maintain it, don't do it."

Thanks for your input to my question to Paul.

Cheers,

Paul
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 2044
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
174
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think a lot depends on the emotional atmosphere of the meetings, and more frequent is better than less. I worked in a research lab where we had weekly lab meetings on Monday at 7:30am, and each person was buttonholed as to what "data" they had come up with. The result was a lab where everyone worked frantically to produce massive quantities of data, but the experiments were ham handed and sometimes useless.

I also worked a year in a research lab near London. We met twice a day, first (with coffee) to talk about what we were going to do, then (at tea time, with tea and a snack) to discuss how it went. We weren't producing as much data, but the experiments were more elegant and the information generated more useful. More bang for the buck, as it were.
 
Richard Gorny
pollinator
Posts: 264
Location: Poland, zone 5
48
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Julia, years ago I was working in the research institute with a few other young people. Our boss was always absent and basically we were on our own. These were the most productive years in my career - I have written (alone, and with colleagues) nearly 40 publications in 7 years, while the average for the institute was 1 per two years. No strict hours, no attendance checks, no official meetings, except once a year to present what we have done and what's our plans.
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 2044
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
174
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think a lot depends on the personality and leadership qualities of, well, the leader.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22166
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rus Williams wrote:
Many of the decisions around which project to begin/ complete then become pretty obvious. It's just the next one.


Currently we have about 25 projects on hold for one reason or another. i.e. the berm next to the house at basecamp is waiting for topsoil delivery, which needs the dump truck to deliver it, but the dump truck has been offline for months while visiting different mechanics and going through a parade of our own attempts to mend it.

So then you would think that you would just go to item 26: "E.T. front axle pivot assembly grease/repair" -- not everybody is qualified to do that. And the people that are qualified are working on something gumming up one of the items from the first 25 ....

I guess all I am trying to say is that things are complicated. But we are definitely moving forward.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22166
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul Kean wrote:Would you mind if I incorporate this text into my project governance?


If it is a printed thing, then just mention where it came from.

If you want to post it on-line as a public thing, please make sure you have a link to the original. And keep in mind that if your version is too much like mine that search engines will punish us both.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22166
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Richard Gorny wrote:Paul, thanks for sharing that, this is very interesting. By sign up for the task you mean taking ownership of this particular item on to do list?


Yes.


How do you manage other resouces required for projects (procurement, cash flow, etc.)?


So far we don't have people that are trying to start a business here. So I've just been paying for materials.

Are you the one who is making decisions on priorities or this also is being discussed/voted?


I choose priorities. But we do have discussion. And people have made suggestions for different priorities that I have embraced.

I strongly believe that structured management kills initiative, creativity and joy of work sooner or later in majority of cases. I have years of exactly same experience with meetings devoted to discussing paperworks on how to produce more paperworks.


I like the idea that plenty of information exchange leads to good choices by people in the field.

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22166
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We had an "iteration planning" meeting yesterday. Somehow, it felt to me, like this particular meeting didn't have a lot of value. Only a few projects had been completed - but it was mostly my fault, as I take people away from what they signed up for in order to get higher priority stuff done.

I'm concerned that once again I am working people too hard.

At the same time: the good news is that I feel like we have a strong forward velocity.
 
bob day
Posts: 352
Location: Central Virginia USA
14
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just read the document, not most of the posts, but thought i would add my 2 cents anyway.

I'm not really a volunteer, or at least not an official one, maybe anybody that uses this site and writes a post or a reply is a volunteer.

Maybe we all are being offered the opportunity to be dictators, but some of us don't hear the call, and some of us don't want the job (karma?) but like the document said, the dictator just happened to be in that place at that time when a dictator was being assigned--"you, over there in the overalls, ya wanna be a dictator? have fun"

Of course, like the document also says, (and like tommy smothers often said to his brother when told to 'take it') you had the right to say no. (i'm glad you didn't say no)

And also like the document says, i don't always agree with everything, but mostly it's not that big a deal, i can choose to read and gnash my teeth at all the stuff i disagree with, or i can just keep on going where i choose to go and not spend my time with the negatives.

The biggest and best thing about all this is the information being shared in community and the number of different perspectives we get to see from. Also of course, all the fun doing it.

 
That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I think a piece of pie wouldn't kill me. Tiny ad:
21 podcast review of Sepp Holzer's Permaculture
https://permies.com/wiki/54445/digital-market/digital-market/podcast-review-Sepp-Holzer-Permaculture
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!