A Future For Doocracy In The Workplace

Paul Killoran, @dancinpaul from Starlight Solutions, posted a comment on our post Doocracy: It’s The Doing That Counts. I thought the reply to his comment merited a blog post of its own.

Burning Man and Alchemy – The Georgia Burn are all very large-scale examples of doocracy. They are geared around the idea of creating the space for an event to happen that will contain lots of sub-events. Each aspect of a given event is either happening or not happening because someone did something or not.

In a modern industrial economy, human beings are organised around a process – whether it is making TV sets or waging wars. Human beings are in a subservient role to the process, and through educational programming and careful training they have become replaceable and dispensable.

For a doocracy to really work in our modern society, we would have to set about thinking on how to humanise the production line. To do that, we would have to rethink our consumerist lifestyle which funds this production line paradigm that is the foundation of our society.

But change is happening. In a previous article “Corporations Must Embrace The Principles Of The Social Media Revolution To Evolve And Survive“, we wrote about how companies are going to have to adapt their employment policies and work practices if they want to get the best and most talented picks of the generation coming through. For subsequent generations, companies will have to bend even further to cope with even more different expectations of what work means from potential recruits.

Most new small businesses in the leading edge space have little or no conventional structure. Technology Voice is a case in point. There is very little need for John or I to meet up. (However, it is usually a good thing if we can when possible as we get through things quicker without having to go back and fro.) Our ‘newsroom’ is in the cloud. We only have a hot desk because for personal reasons it makes my life easier. But we could probably get by just as well without it. We just do what we do and only occasionally is there a bit of confusion, and that is usually due to the shortcomings of technology. (Computers, they’ll never catch on.)

I would say our experience of publishing Technology Voice is prototypical in the sense that we are aware of how technology can be an enabling force for us and we are happy to share what we have learned should anyone ask. We are planning to set up our Facebook page in such a way (if we can) that our activities are more transparent, for instance. But we are also very aware that Technology Voice gets done because we get on and do it without the need for diktats or directives. John and I have our areas of expertise, we do what we do and we make an effort to stay coordinated – which is another word for organised.

I am glad you are enjoying you business experience. Removing fear and arbitrary authoritarianism from the workplace and replacing it with a sense of trust and collaboration is a liberating experience.

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.