Doocracy: It’s The Doing That Counts


Image by Kevin Flanagan.

Upfront disclaimer: From previous posts, many of our regular readers will have heard of 091 Labs here in Galway, Ireland. It is a hackerspace project that we at Technology Voice support with regular shout-outs and by participating in other ways.

What may not be apparent from our previous coverage is that 091 Labs is run as a doocracy: a place where people can come together, self-organise, share, co-create and collaborate.

The sixties and seventies were times of a great many counter-cultural experiments in which many ideas were explored as to how best we could live our lives. Several such strands of exploration containing the elements of libertarianism, Zen in the momentness, and some good old fashioned American, “can do!” spirit, came to be mixed together bringing to the fore the startling and radical idea that the easiest way to do something is to do something.

Burning Man is one manifestation. A whole bunch of people take themselves off to the desert away from the possibility of disturbing others. They do their thing and express themselves in whatever way they feel most appropriate, and when it’s all over they clear up their mess and leave.

Another important result of doocracy thinking is the open source movement. Nobody asked anyone to make Gimp or OpenOffice to name just two great applications. Individuals just decided to get on with it and make it happen.

Declan Elliott, who is one of the speakers at this year’s BlogTalk which is taking place in Galway on the 26th and 27th of August, is the person responsible for bringing the ideas underpinning doocracy to the City of Tribes by means of helping to found 091 Labs.

Declan says, “A doocracy is a self-organising system where everyone participates and everyone treats each other as equals. There is no leader or follower here. Everyone is a fellow of the hackerspace.”

Very importantly he adds, “This is very much the direction for organisations in the future. We will no longer have intensely hierarchical organisations. They will be much flatter, much faster and much more permeable. People inside and out the organisation can connect directly with each other and do what they want as they wish, when they wish, mindful of what they are a part of.”

Trust and responsibility are key to the doocracy ethos. In a world devoid of Big Brother and his evil spawn of micro-managers, one’s own sense of what is right and just becomes of the utmost importance. It becomes the benchmark for decision making and action taking.

Doocracies are about doing in the context of working with other people. If you do it, you do it. If someone else does it, then they do it. Of course, certain activities require the enrollment and the coordination of the division of labour, but even then you do it because you have agreed to do it, not because the group has ordered you to do it or even expected you to do it. Either it’s done or its not: it’s that simple.

Working with others can occasionally produce moments of disharmony. For instance, there can be disagreements over use of space and time when it can be used, etc. However, these conflicts can be resolved by remembering that sharing, co-creation and collaboration are fundamental to a successful outcome, and that it is better to cede one’s point, gracefully we hope, rather than be a person of obstruction.

Like other ‘alternative’ ideas, the principles of doocracy will eventually find a place in the more conventional world, particularly in mainstream businesses. In a previous article, “Corporations Must Embrace The Principles Of The Social Media Revolution To Evolve And Survive“, we spoke about how employers are going to have to revise and change the structures of their organisation which inhibit communication. The very next evolution of that process will be to up their level of trust another notch from freely allowing their workers (or should I say collaborators) to communicate to freely allowing their collaborators to do things mindful, of course, of the attendant responsibilities.

Who wouldn’t love working at a company that was all about trusting its people and getting things done.

Other images by Darren T. & Tom M.