Grains of sand

Though she calls it micro-planning, in my view Beth Kanter describes one way of developing emergent practices for complex environments or situations, which more workplaces are facing each day. When faced with complexity, I propose that we should organize as networks, continuously develop emergent practices, practice open cooperation, and collaborate around common goals. Micro-planning is a process that could enable the development of emergent practices.

Beth describes micro-planning as it could be used for non-profits, especially in campaigns:

“We are trying to illustrate a real-time, lighter assessment process that activists can use to engage their community and make real-time improvements and adjustments.   Because social media can lend itself to low-cost experimentation, this process doesn’t not necessarily require the “grand campaign plan” that takes a year and lots of resources to implement.”

The same activities can be used while working for profit, namely engaging our community (including customers), making real-time improvements and then adjusting our work processes (requires a devolution of power & authority). This is not a one-shot deal and then we move on, but a way of working and doing business. It sounds very much like wirearchy: a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority based on information, knowledge, trust and credibility, enabled by interconnected people and technology.

To support work in Perpetual Beta we should be looking at more micro processes that could in the aggregate make a significant difference due to network effects. A little extra influence distributed among many people in a network can have an impact. Much as the 140 character limitation of Twitter forces people to jettison extraneous words, it also enables a larger network because we can scan more tweets than blog posts. Each tweet is like a grain of sand, but thousands can form patterns and be a source of information, knowledge and connections. We need more ways to add individual grains to the constantly growing and moving sand dune that our work now rests upon. An industrial dump-truck would only disturb the harmony of that dune.

One Response to “Grains of sand”

  1. Beth Kanter

    I love the grain of salt analogy. What is interesting is that I thought the term and process “Micro-Planning” was something new – but it has been used in development and natural resources planning.

    The common theme is involving the stakeholders or audience in the development and feedback/improvement of the plan.


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