Future Beacon



Working Together

by James Adrian


Introduction

      Children need to acquire competence in reasoning, memory, investigation, and imagination. Most importantly, they need to aquire a desire to used their skills to help each other.

      Since most adults have not had the benefit of such an upbringing, their more specialized skills are not being applied within this framework of mind. That being the case, the task of forming a non-defective organization is definitely non-trivial.

      In this culture, as in many of the past, an organization is thought of as being comprised of a few leaders and many subordinate followers. This organizational basis is less egregious than slavery and more egregious than it needs to be. This article will describe an alternative.


Leadership

      An act of leadership is a deliberate act that brings about some valued result that probably would not have occurred without that deliberate act. For example, a seemingly intractable problem may be solved with imagination, inventiveness, rare knowledge, being able to elucidate a persuasive case, or perhaps by taking bold action. Good leaders are described as having several of many efficacious abilities and attractive characteristics, but the net utility of leadership is the ability (whether continual or occasional) to bring about valued results.

      Extreme instances of good leaders are sometimes charismatic. These leaders are seen a such shining examples of the citizenry that they are held in awe. This is not always a good thing, although it can be. The problem is that leaders who have charisma may succeed in being persuasive by appealing to emotion without offering hard evidence. Deferring to such a leader without factual and logical scrutiny has misled and harmed people from time to time.

      Members of an organization should not be conditioned to rely exclusively upon people of high group status to solve problems. To the extent possible, the problems of the organization should be known to the members. Every person in the organization should be capable of acts of leadership. Members should be assertive enough to warn of problems, or stop mistakes, or correct the record. Vigilance in observing, surmising and reporting in the interest of the organization should not be severely constrained by rank or status. To "follow" should mean to follow the letter and spirit of one's promises. All members should be leaders - leaders who have promised to serve other members in clearly stated ways.


Organizational Structure

      Hierarchical organizations have some number of levels which are ranked in order of authority. There is a top-level person or group who is in charge of everything that the organization does (directly or indirectly) such as a Commander in Chief or a Board of Directors. Other persons or groups are authorized by, and take orders from, a higher-level person or group. This has been the structure of military organizations throughout history. Organizational structures having these characteristics are typical of the structure of current-day military organizations, government departments, businesses and charities. Despite variations, the model will hereinafter be called the Military Model.

      Perhaps surprisingly, the private sector as a whole does not adhere to this model. Each functional entity of the private sector (whether for profit and not for profit) makes its contribution until it is dissolved. This might be called the Private Sector Model. The organization in this case is the private sector. The entities serving markets are members of the organization. Lawmakers provide the top-level control in the form of laws and regulations, but wisely refrain from specifying a whole host of choices such as what products or services entities (members) will attempt to provide, the price of goods and services, and many others. Of course, lawmakers are not part of the private sector, but some of their laws and regulations rule it.

      The organizational structure for private sector activities described below will bear a much greater resemblance to the Private Sector Model than to the Military Model. Let's call it the Private Works Model. Unlike the Private Sector Model, the Private Works Model has a regulatory person or group that is internal to the organization. The regulatory person or group serves to enforce the rules of the organization and to mediate disputes. The rules must be consistent with an Organizational Constitution agreed to by the initial members. The regulators may not manage the organization generally and is not similar to top management in the Military Model. It is contracted to enforce the rules, mediate disputes among the members and bring suit against those violating their contracts if necessary. Members do things according to contracts with each other and with entities outside of the organization. Members, including the regulators, are responsible for doing what they have agreed to do in written contracts. The regulatory person or group is a contractor of the same organizational rank as all of the other members. The initial members start the organization by agreeing to a business plan, the initial collection of contracts between members and the Organizational Constitution, which also specifies how the Constitution may be changed.

      In the Private Works Model, there is no need for the concept of subordination or the establishment of ranks. The regulatory person or group provides a specified service to the members which even though critical (as several others are) is a contracted service like those of all the other members. Workers do not come to work expecting to do anything a boss wants done. They do work that they own.

      Members (each of whom is a party to at least one contract) might be assumed to work either full time or part time, which is the prevailing custom; but in addition to full-time service and part-time service, we must add occasional service. This makes it possible for an organization to produce value intermittently, which may greatly reduce the initial commitment of resources needed to start or expand the organization.


Contact

      This article is a personal opinion. Please feel free to write to me directly for more information or to make suggestions or comments. My email address is jim@futurebeacon.com. You can also go to my contact page to get my full contact information. Suggestions, questions, additional information, critiques, and opposing opinions are very welcome.