Book of the Day: Swarmwise

Book: Swarmwise. By Rick Falkvinge. 2013

URL = http://falkvinge.net/files/2013/04/Swarmwise-2013-by-Rick-Falkvinge-v1-Final-2013Jul18.pdf pdf]

Description


1.
“It is an instruction manual for recruiting and leading tens of thousands of activists on a mission to change the world for the better, without having access to money, resources, or fame. The book is based on Falkvinge’s experiences in leading the Swedish Pirate Party into the European Parliament, starting from nothing, and covers all aspects of leading a swarm of activists into mainstream success.” (http://falkvinge.net/2013/02/14/swarmwise-the-tactical-manual-to-changing-the-world-chapter-one/)

 

2. Rick Falkvinge:

“The book doesn’t go into theoretical detail, psychology, or deep research papers. Rather, it is very hands-on leadership advice from pure experience – it covers everything from how you give instructions to new activists about handing out flyers in the street, up to and including how you communicate with TV stations and organize hundreds of thousands of people in a coherent swarm. Above all, it focuses on the cost-efficiency of the swarm structure, and is a tactical instruction manual for anybody who wants to dropkick their competition completely – no matter whether their game is business, social, or political. A rough listing of the topics in the ten chapters would say that the book covers the concept of a swarm, how to launch one, how to get it organized to cover the streets, how to stage effective street rallies, how to use the swarm for getting the message out in social ways they don’t teach you at marketing school, how to make people and the swarm stay on target, how to resolve conflicts, how to maintain leadership in times of crazy growth, advanced swarm techniques with social media, how to manage oldmedia (TV/radio/newspapers), how to manage your own success, and tons, tons more. Overall, I haven’t seen the contents of this book anywhere else, so I felt it needed to be written.”

 

Contents

Rick Falkvinge:

‘”A rough listing of the topics in the ten chapters would say that the book covers the concept of a swarm, how to launch one, how to get it organized to cover the streets, how to stage effective street rallies, how to use the swarm for getting the message out in social ways they don’t teach you at marketing school, how to make people and the swarm stay on target, how to resolve conflicts, how to maintain leadership in times of crazy growth, advanced swarm techniques with social media, how to manage oldmedia (TV/radio/newspapers), how to manage your own success, and tons, tons more. Overall, I haven’t seen the contents of this book anywhere else, so I felt it needed to be written.”

  1. Understanding The Swarm [2]
  2. Launching Your Swarm
  3. Getting Your Swarm Organized: Herding Cats
  4. Control The Vision, But Never The Message
  5. Keep Everybody’s Eyes On Target, And Paint It Red Daily
  6. Screw Democracy, We’re On A Mission From God
  7. Surviving Growth Unlike Anything The MBAs Have Seen
  8. Using Social Dynamics To Their Potential
  9. Managing Oldmedia
  10. Beyond Success

 

Review

By Nina Misuraca Ignaczak:

“As Falvinge explains, decentralized does not mean leaderless. The leader of or a swarm leads by inspiration and example, setting the vision and goals for the organization while building a culture that empowers members of the swarm to act. Falvinge contrasts this approach with the leaderless structure of the Occupy movement, which he says sacrificed direction and cohesion in favor of the resilience gained by lacking a leader who can be targeted by opposition.
Here are some of key skills for “swarmwise” leadership based on Falvinge’s book:

 

1. Release Control

Releasing control is the first rule for swarmwise leadership. A swarmwise leader leads primarily through inspiration. Delegating authority can be scary, but for a swarm to function, all parts of it must become self-sufficient and autonomous. This is the only way to reap the cost-efficiency and execution-speed advantages of a swarm.

To lead by releasing control, the leader must lead through inspiration and example, and empower anyone from within the swarm to step up and assume a role. This occurs organically; when a task or function is needed, no one assigns it; someone volunteers to lead it and inspires other to voluntarily follow. The swarm architecture allows for creating leaders on an as-needed basis; once a role, task or function is complete, the leader of that function ceases to lead. No one in the organization has an advantage over anyone else, and no one is assigned a role by anyone else; leadership happens naturally when a need is met with a talent.

 

2. Build a Culture of Leadership and Trust

In order for decentralized leadership to succeed, it must be supported by a culture of trust. The founder creates this culture for the organization, setting the tone and example and leading more as archetype than as manager or mentor. Because this is the case, the founder and all leaders within the organization must maintain an excellent personal reputation, avoiding negativity and exhibiting values of patience, collegiality, passion, and understanding at all times.

 

3. Observe the “Three-pirate Rule” for Decision-making

The “three-pirate rule” is a method of delegating decision making to the local area of the swarm where a decision is needed, expediting action and avoiding bureaucratic inertia. Basically, if three activists agree something is good, they do not need to ask permission of anyone to act in the name of the organization.

 

4. Define the Message, Leave the “Branding” to the Swarm

The leader of a swarm defines the content of a message and leaves it to others to figure out how to best convey the message given context and audience. There are no consistent messages, slogans or catchphrases, or style guides in a swarm. The same message can be delivered in myriad different ways to appeal to a local audience’s needs, values and characteristics.

 

5. Be the Media Face

The rest of the world needs an avatar to associate with the swarm, so it is important for a swarm leader to engage with the media in person, including all press appearances and major public events and rallies.

 

6. Build the Timeline

Members of a swarm need to understand where they are, where they are going and how they are going to get there. To achieve trust, the leader needs to set out a transparent timeline and identify key milestones that swarm members can understand, engage with, and feel a sense of accomplishment with as milestones are reached.

 

7. Set visible, Active, Inclusive Goals

People are not attracted to a swarm for social reasons; they join a swarm because they believe in the mission of the swarm and want to accomplish it. To keep people engaged, goals must be identified that are inclusive and engaging. Measurement and gamification are ways to keep the swarm engaged and focused, and to tap into natural competition to get things done and achieve goals. To keep swarm members motivated, reward them with acknowledgement and attention—it’s a critical step to maintaining morale and faith.

Swarm leadership increases the resilience of organizations; the swarm leader creates an ecosystem that is adaptable, redundant, and self-organizing. Ultimately, swarm leadership radically reduces bureaucracy by offering every member the chance to freely take initiative, participate, and lead according to their skills and interest level. ” (http://www.shareable.net/blog/7-ways-to-lead-%E2%80%98swarmwise%E2%80%99-in-a-networked-world)

 

Excerpts

Characteristics of a Swarm Organization

For an excerpt from chapter one, see: Swarm Organization

 

Why I don’t believe in leaderless swarms

Rick Falkvinge:

” We can observe around us that change happens whenever people are allowed to inspire each other to greatness. This is leadership. This is even leadership by its very definition.

In contrast, if you have a large assembly of people who are forced to agree on every movement, including the mechanism for what consitutes such agreement, then you rarely achieve anything at all.

Therefore, as you build a swarm, it is imperative that everybody is empowered to act in the swarm just through what they believe will further its goals – but no one is allowed to empower themselves to restrict others, neither on their own nor through superior numbers.

This concept – that people are allowed, encouraged and expected to assume speaking and acting power for themselves in the swarm’s name, but never the kind of power that limits others’ right to do the same thing – is a hard thing to grasp for many. We have been so consistently conditioned to regard power as power, regardless whether it is over our own actions or over those of others, that this crucial distinction must be actively explained. We will return to explore this mechanism in more detail in chapter five, as we discuss how to create a sense of inclusion and lack of fear as we mould the general motivations in the swarm.

As a result, somebody who believes the swarm should take a certain action to further its goals need only start doing it. If others agree that the action is beneficial, then they will join in on that course of action.

The key reasons the swarm should not be leaderless are two. You will notice that I refer to ”its goals”. Those come from you, the swarm’s founder. If the swarm would be allowed to start discussing its purpose in life, then it would immediately lose its attracting power of new people – who, after all, feel attracted to the swarm in order to accomplish a specific goal, and not out of some general kind of sense of social cohesion.

The second reason is these very mechanisms, the swarm’s culture of allowing people to act. These values will be key to the swarm’s success, and those values are set and established by you as its founder. If the swarm starts discussing its methods of conflict resolution, meaning there is no longer any means to even agree when people will have come to an agreement, then the necessary activism for the end goal will screech to a halt.

Therefore, I believe that leaderless swarms are not capable of delivering a tangible change in the world at the end of the day. The scaffolding, the culture, and the goals of the swarm need to emanate from a founder. In a corporate setting, we would call this ”mission and values”.

But I also believe in competition between many overlapping swarms, so that activists can float in and out of organizations that best match the change they want to see in the world. One swarm fighting for a goal does not preclude more doing the same, but perhaps with a slightly different set of parameters.” (http://falkvinge.net/2012/02/18/selling-your-vision-with-a-swarm/?)

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