beyond government and markets

The key to our transformation toward a network society is citizen sensemaking. The thinking that got us into our current state of affairs will not get us out. Hierarchical leadership, even in democratic governments, is inadequate for the complexity of a networked society. Our governments seem to be completely unprepared to regulate surveillance capitalism, let alone climate change. Leadership on these issues is coming from outside government and in spite of the market. “We want leadership distributed because this is too much weight even for the mightiest of us.”Jennifer Sertl. A new form of cooperative leadership is needed today. It is emerging.

What network organizational models can we develop to address complex global issues? One local/global example is an initiative to adapt our forests to climate change, connecting governments with the market, through a non-profit — Community Forests International. One of the biggest climate change initiatives is being led by a 16-year old student from Sweden — Greta Thunberg. Now is the time to continue experimenting with new models, such as platform cooperativism.

My focus for over a decade has been to help people learn together. I have been a champion of social learning and developed the personal knowledge mastery framework to help people learn in networks, communities, and at work. The reason that learning is the work today is that our existing organizations and institutions do not have the answers. We have to create new ways to address what governments and the market cannot. First we have to be able to describe and discuss them. This kind of learning — making sense of our collective condition — has been ignored by schools and institutions. There is no curriculum to prepare us.

The authors of The Age of Discovery liken our current era to the European Renaissance of the 14th to 17th centuries. The Renaissance brought wonderful new discoveries — universities, astronomy, print — as well as new challenges — the pox, war, mass slavery . Our age is bringing similar discoveries — nano materials, gene therapy, artificial intelligence — and new threats — Ebola, extremism, climate change. Today, we are in desperate need of diverse thinking to create new ways of organizing.

“Aging contentions that ‘government’ (+I) or ‘the market’ (+M) is the solution to particular public-policy issues will eventually give way to new ideas that ‘the network’ (+N) is the solution. For now, I think that ‘social sector’ and ‘commons sector’ are the most promising of the foregoing ideas.” —David Ronfeldt

Follow up post — beyond the market

5 Responses to “beyond government and markets”

  1. Joseph Workman

    It’s getting late but this sounds like essentially the same thing I have been working on. Looking forward to diving in tomorrow. Thank you.

  2. Joseph Workman

    The Dream

    Together we can find the solutions.
    We are stretched thin, working for survival and providing for our families, we are dispirited by the rancor of civic participation, we are often further drained by a toxic work environment and so coming together and being involved we are dissuaded to do.
    We do spontaneously come together, in a profound way, in the presence of tragedy and in the presence of great beauty.
    In Virginia I was working on and am now working on building a community minded garden cafe, In Good Company Social club. It is for the general public, for everyone, and we expressly invite local people and orgs doing progressive work in all the spheres of human activity….intersectionality, synergy…to have as this restaurant their social club.
    A festive place designed for socializing and with an ambience informed by the spirit of a true team who works there.
    A place of such physical and atmospheric beauty that it is conducive for people of all social circles to interact constructively and amiably. The membership card is simply the respect you show for others. “Respect towards all, from all” is the social club’s rule of etiquette. No one can take your membership card away from you, there is no membership fee, there’s nothing to sign…it’s just one’s conscious effort of respect towards all. Sing, dance, eat drink, socialize (or just eat quietly by yourself if you like)…all with respect.

    Years ago, it was originally called Mother’s Place. If it was wholesome enough for a mother and her newborn, it was wholesome enough for everyone.

    A wholesome, festive place, woven into the fabric of everyday, normal life.
    As a people, we routinely spend money and time eating away from home so this is a way to connect with others in our community that requires no additional investment of time or money. It is also bolstering and restorative, which is personally sustainable, which is necessary to prevent burnout so that we may act in the long term….which is vitally important for creating systemic change.

    The social club will host daily World Cafe Method structured conversations (or some other conveyance method) to help harvest and utilize the collective wisdom of the community for the community. The topics chosen by participants.

    To create an environment, woven into the fabric of daily life and in alignment with the sensibilities of mainstream culture, of respect and conviviality so that local people from all social circles can naturally, organically make connections, friends, acquaintances, networks, collaborations, big and small, long term and short, formal and informal for the betterment of one’s individual and family life and for the betterment of the larger community.

    There are people of conscious goodwill in all social circles.

    So this is my work. I have written an operations manual template that will be my operations manual for authentic teamwork in… In Good Company Social Club (altered to fit my new environment.)

    It is a practical, step by step guide for any progressive restaurant owner to create a vibrant and productive workplace that truly works for all and to create one’s own version of a community minded social club, if one wishes.

    My, maybe Quixotic, dream was that in one town or city… this happens and a local renaissance begins to bloom. It is a living, real life example that is rapidly duplicated in various forms across the nation and across the world (where it is safe to gather in such a way). These renaissance or transition towns connect via the internet and the world is connected locally (in person) and globally (electronically). Sharing inspiration, challenges and stories and methods of success.

    An exponential wave of progress cresting just before the exponential wave of the dissolution of the unsustainable reaches its zenith.

    That we all are points on an exponential wave of progress, rippling outwards, meeting and synergizing with the ripples of all.

    That’s the dream. This is my ripple.

  3. Joseph Workman

    (My work is free for anyone here who’s interested.) From the Epilogue, “People, Planet, Peace and Profit.”

    There is dignity in expecting those we hire to be aware and awake. To be
    conscientious of protocol that makes sense, is user friendly and removes
    obstacles to the work at hand. To receive a livable wage. To help create a
    workplace that is a good place for all.
    It is usually not the work itself that is difficult but the bullshit that makes it
    so. In many workplaces the crew operates within a subtle, or not so subtle,
    matrix of domination, capitulation, apathy and fear. An authentic team is
    unified within a matrix of awareness and respect for self and others. It is a
    wholly different atmosphere.
    This book illustrates a new paradigm emerging in the world. A workplace
    that works well for all…the owners, the crew, the community, our
    environment, the world.

    In this connected world of economic misery, much of the world’s
    population depends upon, and enjoys the benefits of exploitative industry
    (Like the computer I am using to type this.)
    It is rare and difficult for any one of us raised in an industrialized nation to
    extricate ourselves from profiting by another’s suffering.
    While bullshit comes from the top of our hierarchical systems, bullshit also
    comes from everyone. Bullshit comes from you. Bullshit comes from me. Is
    any one of us so infallible that we never contribute to the collective BS of
    the world to some degree? Great or small? We cannot, with integrity, so
    easily point the finger.
    Is it fair to judge the butcher while we enjoy the meat?
    We who build businesses, organizations and institutions…we, by our
    effort, intelligence and will…build something.

    Some that is built is good.
    Some causes great harm.

    But because many of us, in many ways
    benefit from these efforts… some degree
    of gratitude and appreciation is in order.
    When we awaken to the reality that many existing businesses,
    organizations and institutions create harm along with the nice things that
    we enjoy, we…instead of doing the easy thing of only pointing the
    finger…can do the work of building something better ourselves.

    Calling out abuse is a worthy part.
    The other part is to see one’s own
    culpability and to build the good.

    Someone has to build it.
    If that someone isn’t us, who is?
    If we wish to live in a more beautiful world, a world that works for the
    100%, then we, the people of conscious goodwill, must continue to roll up
    our sleeves and work to create the businesses, institutions and
    organizations that work for the benefit of all. It is not easy but it is
    enriching and possible with authentic teamwork.
    We can help co-create a world that respects people, planet, peace and
    This manual is especially for those who wish to create, and who are
    creating, the more beautiful world.


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