Leadership, Sharing and Bureaucracy - can we work together?

Session proposal for Futurespotters International event in Tbilisi

One sentence outline

I’ll be leading a session on how our various expectations and experiences often hide the critical details which result in success or failure of projects which include a lot of sharing and working closely together.

The Challenge

The primary institutions we use for sharing in society as it stands are

1) the informal sharing of the family

2) the State and assets like roads

3) the Free Culture movement embodied in Wikipedia / Linux etc.

When people try and build new sharing projects, they often run into problems - lack of volunteers, or too many people with divergent interests. Different decision-making approaches are tried, some succeed, some fail, but over-all we have a hard time getting things started.

What can we learn from successes (and failures) and how might we embody these virtues going forwards? We’ve seen one massive breakthrough in mass collaboration in the past 20 or so years (the Free Culture) movement - what does the future hold? What’s the next big leap in our ability to collaborate, meet challenges, and prosper together?


This will be an experiential event - storytelling of our projects (short!) and some roleplaying experiments with different leadership styles. There may be some puzzles or physical challenges (things like unknotting a long rope together) if appropriate on the day. We’ll try and focus on identifying and internalizing effective strategies and ways of doing things.


This is very much a session for people who are at the edge of their range: doing things a little beyond what they can comfortably achieve with their existing toolkits, grasping for that tantalizing possibility that there’s an us that could solve the problem, if only we could keep everybody together!

I think people from all walks of life can see this terrain!

Call for community involvement

I guarantee this will be useful, memorable and actionable.

Date: 2014-06-23 20:00:00 - 2014-06-26 20:00:00, Asia/Tbilisi Time.


Looking forward to this!

I have been working at this very crux – I call it “the interface between  bureaucracies wand networks” – for years. I will certainly not miss this session.

I made a similar comment elsewher eon this forum. Do you intend to bring all stakeholders, including perhaps some government reps, to this session?

I also suggest to have a special emphasis on Sharing Economy worldwide and in Georgia/Armenia/Egypt.

Know of good reps to invite?

Hi @2mavin, I’m not sure whether you’re asking hexayurt or everyone here? I think there is no right answer, it might be interesting to invite bureaucrats with direct experience on an issue, that way everyone benefits from a focused session. + they’d need to “try things outside their range”, so not your any bureaucrat. Now’s the time to decide since these kind of people would need to be invited formally and well in advance.

It depends on @hexayurt here, if he wants to keep a multistakeholder approach or focus more on changemakers to changemakers collaboration, as I was reading in a tweet lately.

Yes it does look like it.

We have a facebook event and some 50+ people have signed up there. Amongst which are people working in local administration.


Thank you! High five for putting structure of ownership, management and protection in perspective. Helps to keep it in mind when talking/designing/discussing any sharing project.

1 Like

Really interesting!

I really enjoyed your talk. Why we need to look at bureaucracy in a different way, as it enables us to share more efficiently! Also, I was shocked to hear how difficult it has been to get the cheap tents for refugees out in the world!

Still processing…

It makes plenty of sense, but I sense a danger of circularity here. You say we need management (in a broad sense), then you define bureaucracy as the thing that does management (i.e., you define it functionally). At this point, of course, you can conclude you need bureaucracy. I tend to think of bureaucracies as solutions to the management problem (economists prefer to speak of coordination). The same function can be performed by other things, like algorithms (when A, do B) or charismatic leadership – only, these alternatives have not historically performed as well.

I suppose you could say that most hacks we or anyone else can put together will probably include some bureaucracy somewhere. But it might be misleading to speak of the creative power of bureaucracies, because it points in the wrong direction. We are already coordinating almost everything by bureaucracies, with market joining up the different ones. Any improvement must lie elsewhere, there is no more space left for building more bureaucracies.

Session reflections

I enjoyed the session, but am still somewhat unconvinced by the wider applicability of the owner/manager/protector model. I think it is not possible to apply it equally to concrete and intangible items. You described ownership as the ability to take away access to ‘something’ from other stakeholders. Surely increasing/sharing ownership - or removing it completely - removes that risk? It also makes for more fluid structures that can have inbuilt redundancy and can better cope with changes, including in personnel.

It also triggered some thoughts about linkages with the sustainable consumption thinking that says people rarely need ‘things’ they think they want, but simply require the services they provide. Not sure where I’m going with that yet…