Patterns for Decentralised Organising / Richard D. Barlett and Natalia Lombardo / Intersection18

Presented at Intersection Conference

If you’re interested in the future of work, you may have heard rumours about Enspiral, a network of 200 entrepreneurs in New Zealand working on “stuff that matters”. The network is composed of many start-ups and small co-ops experimenting with radical self-management practices, decentralised ownership, and shared leadership.

Nati and Rich come from one of those co-ops in the network, a software company called Loomio. With Loomio we’re building a tool for deliberation and collaborative decision-making. Recently we launched The Hum, a consulting company providing practical guidance for decentralised organisations. Our focus has expanded beyond just software, to consider the cultural and structural elements that support people to thrive and create humming teams. With The Hum we travel all over the world, visiting organisations across a huge diversity of sectors: from the Seoul city government, to corporate consultants in New York, to anarchist activists in Barcelona.

What these unlikely neighbours have in common is a shared desire to work in a less hierarchical, more collaborative way. We present our Patterns For Decentralised Organising, based on our lived experience building Enspiral and Loomio, combined with our research over the past 2 years on the road. We propose that the ideal structure for any truly thriving organisation must be unique: the structure must respond to the unique context, opportunities and objectives of the particular people involved.

So while we reject any “one size fits all” prescription for organisations, we offer a collection of design patterns. These patterns offer solutions to the recurring challenges that humans encounter whenever they try to work together in harmony. In this talk we’ll share a sample of the patterns, considering the cultural and structural elements required for a thriving decentralised organisation. We’ll look at decision-making methods, digital collaboration tools, and rhythms for continuous improvement, as well as more subtle topics such as power imbalances, interpersonal skills, and emotional intelligence.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.