Many organizations are liable to undergo a crisis when they grow, especially as they outgrow their founders. With our activities expanding and more opportunities presenting themselves, Edgeryders in 2018 seems to be close to one such situation. A few months back, it became clear that we needed to up our game if we were to overcome the challenges implied.
But we had one thing going for us. Edgeryders is not exactly an entity. It’s always been more of a network, a set of relationships. Networks have no sharp borders between an “inside” and an “outside”; what they have is a gradient, from less central to more central. So, the default mode of growing is to pull closer to their center people who are already in. This, we reasoned, can be effective and fast, but still quite safe, because we would be working closer with people we already know well, and have already worked with. With a community approaching five thousand members, this did not look impossible.
So, in late May a group of close collaborators and friends decamped to southern Turkey for a company retreat, dreamed up and organized by the wonderful @noemi. We rented a large house in the coastal town of Kalkan, and explored how we could work together to build on these past four years of Edgeryders, set ourselves new goals and live out new adventures.
At the and of three very intense days, I see the start of a new phase in the life of our wonderful little mutant of a community/company. The main changes are:
- Much larger and more diverse core group. Several people could not make it to Turkey. And yet, there were thirteen people in the house, plus a facilitator. This is a much larger, stronger core than we ever could count on. Also more diverse: this group includes people in their twenties, other in their seventies, and every age group in between; there were people holding passports from 12 countries on four continents; and coming from different disciplines, including engineering, performing arts, philosophy, economics, architecture, design and business.
- Teams. Working in Edgeryders happens in almost total autonomy. This is hugely enjoyable for most of us, but it can be disorienting, especially at first. We are encouraging the formation of small teams, whose members work quite closely with each other. Autonomous teams, we think, combine decentralization and resilience with a sense of shared purpose and camaraderie. The #research-network is the first formalized team in Edgeryders in this sense; we have several more in the making. My colleagues will be announcing them on the blog as we go.
- Process reform. The new scale of Edgeryders means we need to rethink the way the run operations, while staying faithful to our principles of individual autonomy, mutual responsibility and resilient architecture. @matthias is leading the rethinking, but we will all be involved. Meanwhile, for the benefit of the larger groups, I had a first stab at writing down the principles for collaboration underpinning Edgeryder’s architecture and processes, both current and future.
- Induction and board enlargement. We also had to come up with a process to onboard new people into the core group. We are doing it mostly with one-on-one mentoring by the standing board members. Some people have expressed interest in joining the board of directors, and we came up with a process for that too.
In the picture, left to right, you will find the smiling faces of @matteo_uguzzoni, @nadia, @hugi, @owen, @mariacoenen, @noemi, @alex_levene, @zmorda, @bob, @anique.yael, myself, @hazem and @johncoate. Guys, thank you so much for spending valuable time and brainpower in scheming around this new phase. We now have a real opportunity. I, for one, am committed to making the most of it.
(Yes, we did jump in the pool immediately after the picture was taken)