This two part evaluation exercise is a follow up on the most discussed topic in our Brussels Workshop. We talked most of the day about collaboration and how we want to find better ways to create fruitful coaction. If we want to be abble to work together inside our value system, we need to understand how we work. If fruitful collaboration means working togheter while feeling good towards each other in a mutual environment of respect, these two thought bubbles could be for you.
This article is a more personal post that came to mind after evaluating my own participation in two projects and how horizontal organizations can play mind tricks to your own involvement.
Modern organizations, starting as a local and small group of people tend to go fast in an horizontal or flat organization structure. People are seen as equal and every role is important, it helps to feel involved, and makes the range of possibilities bigger. But without a leader the group misses sometimes direction and efficiency is less visible. Roles are then distributed and somebody becomes head of design, head of funds or head of communication. Productivity is flowing again, but for me a subtler barrier is still in the way. From idea to task you still need preparation, and that is something I’m completely lacking of.
You could argument that everybody needs to do his part of preparation, and you can’t only be the philosopher, but I lean to see a collective as an ecosystem where each other strengths are put up front and we organize ourselves around this.
Often I tend to fill the gaps as soon as I see them. If something practical isn’t been taken care of I jump to do it, because I’m good at last minute problem solving, but with my lack of preparation skills, if it is to much in amount it take all my energy and i’m doomed to fail, followed by personal and collective frustration.
The Thinkers, the Preppers and the Doers
So instead of blocking on my personal incompetence, I try to solve it by what I like doing: systemical thinking. I categorize all work inside an organization in three categories that flow in each other: Thinking, preparing and doing.
Visualize your own strengths and weaknesses as a finite set of skill points like in a video game. In your short or long-lived life you earned skill points through events and big moments. You gathered your knowledge into one of those categories and how more you collect how more you can handle in that category, but other way around: tackling tasks inside a category you aren’t good is time and energy consuming with an inefficient consequence as a a result.
Unless you are a superhuman that can do everything alone, in an organization it is rather intelligent to search for each other complementary skills. A thinker with a lot of energy to give to do will need a preparation master as his right hand. How bigger the group how more difficult it is to find a balance, but have five thinkers and one prepper you will never get the job done.
The big difference with a vertical organization is that in a flat organization those three categories aren’t intended. Where you have specific roles inside a hierarchical organization build around power the thinker will always be above the prepper that will be above the doer. When you see everybody as equal we try to divide also the categories equal, but there is the catch: not a lot of people have throughout their lifetime chosen to equally distribute their skill points.
What we need is better understanding about this kind of dynamic. Knowing this I’m intended to take lesser practical mid-long tasks and preparative tasks on me cause I never trained myself and communicate it with my teammates to see how we can find a better dynamic inside the collective. On the other side, give me a task, well explained that takes a certain amount of time, even repetitive, I’m your guy.