Open Letters

Open letters began as a series of posts between two friends (Brian and me). Subsequently open letters became a useful way to “think aloud” and work in a transparent way. Open letters are now serving as “the next step” in various endeavours and collaborations. They are my reflections based on ongoing conversations with different people. By posting these reflections here, as I think them through, it is easy for anyone to catch up with how things are shaping up and what has gone before.

Ref London Futurists, Satalia and (not) Holacracy

Hi Daniel

Ref your presentation at London Futurists, our subsequent texts and your willingness to share ideas, insights and technology.

I’m interested in many aspects of your talk, especially some aspects of Artificial Intelligence, but for now I want to focus on Satalia’s organisational structure.

Since we texted I’ve visited the Satalia website. I particularly appreciated reading more about the ethos – which you had mentioned during your presentation.

As you know, when you first described Satalia’s structure I, wrongly, guessed it might be a Holacracy. My interest in flat, highly autonomous, organisational structures comes from a practical problem I’m trying to solve. I’m most interested in organisations that are not like “typical employers” and that’s why I’m interested in learning more about Satalia’s.

The less like “typical employment” the examples are the better it is for me. My own organisational interests relate to people working together, in many different ways, and often separately from “the day job”. This means that typical “day job” structures and rewards are a poor match for what I need.

My learning so far

It may help our future “conversation”if you know my background ref organisations (in practice and in theory) . My theoretical focus has been on Holacracy and Teal organisations. I have also been pointed towards sociocracy, but have yet to delve into it. My practical focus is less easy to describe, so I’ll only touch on it.

  • I have many years of experience in a variety of online communities of purpose, communities of interest, and communities of practice.
  • I have a considerable network of contacts, widely scattered globally thanks to the Internet, and in London face-to-face.
  • Some of these connections give rise to collaborative initiatives – the lack of a clear organisational structure for such initiatives can be problematic.
  • I came across Holacracy several years ago, and went to a training day.
  • I’ve been revisiting it over the last year or so.
  • Originally I was interested in the context of one particular initiative, but once I started learning and reflecting I saw patterns that pointed to wider applicability and need.
  • I’m attracted by Holacracy’s clarity around roles, purpose, accountability, ways to hold meetings, etc.
  • I read “Reinventing Organisations” in 2015, around the time I was revisiting Holacracy
  • I was involved in a “Holacracy of One” experiment. I found that extremely interesting and influential on my subsequent thinking.
  • My connections with organisational change and Teal people led me to involvement in the Teal for Startups (T4S) group – an online community of purpose (many valuable lessons learned).
  • I met Susan Basterfield through T4S and as a result attended the Enspiral Workshop in London last year
  • The example of Enspiral interests me – especially its structure, or at least my impression of it:
    • Central core of people who know and nurture its structure and ethos
    • People around the boundary who are interested – attending events, reading newsletters, that kind of thing
    • People “inside the boundary” but not active in the central core – people networking with each other and working in a freelance collaborative way thanks to being members of Enspiral

The organisational challenge

The organisational challenge I’m trying to address relates to very loosely structured organisations – so loosely structured that “organisation” is really too formal a word.

I have in mind when people come together informally to help each other in ways that are largely to do with ideas and information and “getting something done”. The attractor is something that they care about (so they become a community of interest or purpose). There may be some localised face-to-face groups within the “organisation” but more likely the bulk of things are online, and people may never meet face-to-face. Organisationally it’s pretty simple early on while people are just sharing ideas, vision and information. It’s not so easy once it moves into “getting things done”.

The old formal structures of committees and suchlike don’t fit these horizontal communities of purpose. Things are fast moving and all the value is in information freely shared. There is no money or physical “stuff” needed to get things started.

It’s possible for things to move quickly (or very slowly). There may be bursts of energy flaring up here and there at different times. It depends on the unpredictable peaks and troughs of discretionary time that people contribute. People take initiatives and it is easy to make assumptions about shared vision, and ethos, and what people will deliver. This can lead to later confusion, disappointment and worse.

What I want to do

I want to create an appropriate, easy to understand, structure for collaboration. My current mental model takes some key ideas from Holacracy (or at least my interpretations of them) but Holacracy is not an ideal fit, which is why I want to learn all I can about different models. These are key ideas I connect with:

  • Blockages happening when something needs to be done and no-one is doing it
  • Tensions are caused when things aren’t done that need to be done
  • Tensions are caused when people find themselves expected to do things that they don’t want to and are not really part of their job
  • Roles clearly expressed are a key to autonomy and accountability
  • People energising a number of roles gives clarity to all, flexibility and opportunities for new involvements.
  • Purpose (and shared purpose as a motivator) – importance of clarity ref role and organisational purpose
  • Motivation – individual motivation is not necessarily the same as shared purpose but is an important element of collaboration and needs to be clear.
  • Accountabilities – if this is clear then much confusion can be avoided
  • Transparency – so people can know what is going on, and what has led to it, and what is about to happen, and make informed decisions.
  • Clear structures for governance meetings and operational meetings – we need effective structures so people can work things out together effectively as and when necessary.

The above is my “mental agenda” and starting point for exploring what you are doing and for learning from you. Thank you for your openness and willingness to share.





Feb 27, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ref Development and “To Hell with Good Intentions”

Hi Katie

Thanks for sending To Hell with Good Intentions” by Ivan Illich.

NB for anyone other than Katie  – the blurb for this says “An address by Monsignor Ivan Illich to the Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects (CIASP) in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on April 20, 1968. In his usual biting and sometimes sarcastic style, Illich goes to the heart of the deep dangers of paternalism inherent in any voluntary service activity, but especially in any international service “mission.” Parts of the speech are outdated and must be viewed in the historical context of 1968 when it was delivered, but the entire speech is retained for the full impact of his point and at Ivan Illich’s request.

It’s a gem of a read. Sadly many of the points Ivan Illich was making are still needing to be made. But you know I think that from my ongoing obsession that It’s time to end this development disconnect

Witness also Let’s get real about International Development and – It’s not just me! – Hear Binyavanga Wainaina on “development”

Back to Illich

I was intrigued to discover  Ivan Illich’s connection with development because I first came across his  work when I was doing my teacher training back in the 1970s, so I am a long-time admirer but from a different perspective.

The three strongest influences on my thinking during my training were Ivan Illich (Deschooling Society), John Holt (“How Children Learn” and “How Children Fail“) and Mr Caudle who was our Language and Literacy tutor. He drummed into us that the children in our classes should be reading and writing “to some purpose”. Mr Caudle taught us that children should see literacy as something they wanted to master, just as they had done with walking and talking.  Literacy should be something that made sense to them. Our task was to inspire them to become readers and writers “because they wanted to” not because adults were bullying them into doing it. And alongside inspiring them, our task was to give them the tools to master the skills.

I guess that’s a bit of a digression, but then our conversations are always wide ranging, and anyhow the topics of Education and Development are interlinked and share similar issues. The example of One Laptop Per Child and how little that connected with reality on the ground leaps immediately to mind..

Back to Illich. I’m intrigued by the way he was  at CIASP giving an invited address, although he was known to be a strong critic of its appraoch. I’m in awe of the way that he gave such a challenging, forthright message. I don’t understand how he fitted ref “insider” / “outsider” status. (Not the best description – but I think you’ll know what I mean)

An upcoming book book telling it how it is

Have you seen Tim Unwin’s recent blog Reclaiming ICT4D: the Conclusion ? (it’s an update on his latest book). It may be relevant to your studies.

I’ve always admired Tim’s ability to “Tell it as it is” while also being “an insider”. That’s how I was first drawn to his work. It would happen that we’d both be in an online forum (regarding some aspect of ICT or development). At first all would be going well (from my perspective). I’d be learning from the posts and maybe making some contributions.  It would seem relevant to me. Then typically things would go in a direction that was completely disconnected from “my reality” and what was happening on the ground in Ago-Are. I’d suddenly realise that the dominant perspective was completely different to mine. It would be so different that I’d be unable to  express the disconnect, so I’d stop contributing.

Often at that point, there would be a response from Professor Tim Unwin, challenging what was being said. To my delight he would be saying, in an academic but forthright way, the kind of thing that was on my heart – so you can understand why I appreciate his work. I’m not sure if you know that he kindly gave the keynote address at Dadamac’s event in January 2015 – this is it

Ref Dadamac Links

There are various Dadamac links above pulled from a couple of archive sites. This may be confusing. At some point all the Dadamac links related to Africa will be neatly together on one site – but it’s taking a while to do that as it is a labour of love by Nikki and Dil and they are both also busy with their full-time day jobs. Stuff is continuing behind the scenes, but not visible the way they would like it to be yet.

It’s a bit of a catch 22 – Once the new website is done it will be much easier for them to attract additional helpers – because evidence of the Dadamac UK-Africa mission, vision, and track record will be easy to access.  Really Nikki and Dil need some new helpers immediately to help them get that website done. (Amongst other things there are loads of posts about different aspects of work stretching back to 2008, which all need reading and tagging before they are added in).

However, until the website is done it’s hard to attract potential new helpers. You know something of what Dadamac UK-Africa is about. If you come across anyone who would be genuinely serious about getting involved I could help them get up to speed on its mission, vision, and track record. But I can’t do it for anyone who just has a casual interest.

I look forward to your next email or skype. BTW – if you feel like writing an open letter in reply I would happily post it up here for you. Hope the links are helpful for you.

Feb 19, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , , , , ,

Help with Holacracy in FASST?

Hi M,

It is some months since you expressed an interest in FASST (Freedom Accountability and Structure for Systemic Transformation) and kindly offered to help with my related explorations in Holacracy.  Back then things were too embryonic for me to be able to define any specific need. Given the passing of time I realise I may have missed the opportunity of having your help. However, in the hope that your offer may still be current, here is an update with some ideas of ways forward and help needed.

Starting with the “Holacracy of One” experience

For the purpose of this update I’m going to start in the simplest way I can by referring to my personal “Holacracy of One” journey, and then widen out to look at collaborations in more general terms and at FASST .

My first attempt at a “Holacracy of One” resulted in a list of seven “Roles” that I energise in my life, each with its “Purpose”. Creating that list was a useful exercise and the idea of the different roles was helpful. However when it came to filling in the details under the other headings I was uncertain about what belonged under the heading “Domain” and what belonged under “Projects (Fields of Exploration)”.

Initially the heading “Accountabilities” seemed more straightforward, but it too easily developed into potentially endless “to do” lists.

If I am to move forward with the idea being a “Holacracy of One” (and then apply it in FASST) then I need to understand how to write all these things out properly.

It would be wonderful if you would help me.

Redefining my roles for 2017

As part of my “New Year New Start” for 2017 I revisited my roles. As before I was influenced by George Por’s work. I discovered that he had reduced his roles to four. I challenged myself to reduce mine, and  have come to an idea of my four roles, but I haven’t laid them out in detail yet.

I’d like to discuss them with you, to see if they “work” and how I would flesh them out in a “Holacracy of One” way.

Holacracies of one and collaborations

The way I see it there are some “projects” in our lives that we can do easily on our own, and some where we get stuck.

A “project” in this instance could be something as short-term as baking a cake or as long-term as gaining a degree. It is something that can be broken down into smaller tasks.

The “projects” that are easy for us are ones where all the tasks within the project can be done by the “Roles” in our personal “Holacracy of One”. The projects we get stuck on are ones where some tasks don’t fit comfortably with any of our “Roles”. We find such tasks very difficult to accomplish, and so the project falters. We struggle to continue alone. It may be that the specific sticking point is a task outside our level of competence. Or it may simply be that the task is one we have no energy for, and we dislike or resent having to do it before moving on. In other words, in Holacracy-speak, the role that would be accountable for that task is missing/not being energised.

We have to find some way past the block. Maybe we find a collaborator who will energise that role (perhaps along with some other roles). Maybe we just find some way to make ourselves do the task, motivated by its place in the long-term project.

Does that make sense to you in a general way? Am I making any sense regarding Holacracy-speak?

Current collaborations

Since we were last in contact, I have got involved in some new collaborations, and am in the process of redefining some existing ones.

The collaborations are with various individuals and groups, some are very “light touch, informal and infrequent” some more “serious, involved and long-term”. None of them involve the complications of exchanging any money. The are collaborations that have come about because they are mutually beneficial.

If we think of life as a journey, then these collaborations are where “the collaborators” happen to be heading in the same direction for a while, and so can find ways to help each other along the way. Some of my collaborators are interested in Holacracy and some are not. At this point in the update I’ll only focus on the four who share my Holacracy interests. They all want to learn more and so we would appreciate guidance in how we collaborate with each other in a Holacratic way.

My next request therefore would be for help in defining the roles of these collaborators. I imagine that this might involve me also redefining my roles or adding new ones. Two of the collaborators are involved with me in the same collaborative initiative, the other two are separate. Other connections between us might emerge as we define roles and clarify purposes within and between the different collaborations. You would connect with everyone (regarding doing our collaborations in a Holacratic way). If we get to this point I would appreciate you also defining your role in collaborating with me, and the others, in Holacratic terms.

Once we have roles refined we can apply Holacratic ways of doing things.

FASST and Holacracy, similarities and differences

Holacrcy was designed for an organisation with a clear commercial purpose and precise boundaries. It was easy to see who was in and who was out –  either they did work for the organisations or they didn’t.

FASST is far less clear. It is for people involved in looser collaborations, each collaborative group drawn together by a shared purpose. There is far more fluidity in terms of what people will do and when they will do it. That is why the discipline of defining roles and accountabilities is so important in FASST, certainly as important as in any normal Holacracy.

In FASST people need to know what they are free to get on with when they have the time, and if it a particular task is time sensitive. They also need to know what other people are getting on with, and how far ahead in time it may be before they actually deliver. There are some things that must be done quickly if they are taken on. Other things can be done in more leisurely ways.

Motivation and reward

Motivation matters as well. Why are people choosing to energise roles if they are not being paid? This is best carefully considered and stated clearly, so that the “rewards” flow effectively. People do things “freely” while appreciating various non-material benefits, such as learning new skills, mixing with interesting people, seeing positive results for the effort they put in, gaining experience, having something to put on a CV, the list could go on.

It helps if everyone involved is aware of the issues of non-material rewards, as this awareness maximises the chance of high motivation and satisfaction. It’s also important for people to be aware of how rapidly the value of various non-material rewards can change. If you are “between jobs” with time on your hands then it’s rewarding to be doing something interesting and worthwhile which will look good on your CV. If a full-time job suddenly arrives then those suddenly change in value. If you’re doing something “to learn how” then you may want to put in a lot of time initially so you can learn quickly, but only do “just enough to keep your hand in” once you have mastered the skill.

We probably need ways to express these issues in the FASST version of Holacracy.

Next steps

I won’t go any further yet, because I don’t know if you are still free for (and interested in) involvement.  If you are then I hope this will whet your appetite.

I look forward to hearing from you and, I hope, collaborating with you to explore more about Holacracy and how we can apply it in FASST to the benefit of various worthwhile collaborative projects.



Feb 13, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , ,

Artificial intelligence, the role of people, and communication through words vs. images

A month or so ago my friend R., who feels you have a talent for futurology, said to me, “I have a question I want you to ask Pamela.”

He and I had been watching the television series Westworld, about an American “Wild West” theme park populated with androids who begin to gain consciousness.

“Ask Pamela if she thinks this is possible, that AIs will become conscious.”

I kept forgetting to ask you his question, until finally on one of our recent Skype calls I remembered. You told me you didn’t have a clear answer to R.’s question, but gave me your thoughts on the subject. One thing you said, and I might be misquoting you, was that the people who work on artificial intelligence projects often have the kind of personality that they feel more of an affinity for the logical processes of computers than the oft messy emotionality and coded communication of human relationships. Another thing you said was that AIs, if they favor a logical sort of thinking, might make choices that humans would find unethical. Putting these two ideas together I wondered if rather than just explore the question of AIs becoming conscious or becoming more intelligent than humans, we should also look into what kind of intelligence AIs are developing. People are a very diverse breed, and our individual specimens think in very different ways. If the designers of AI tend to have a certain kind of intelligence, and AI resultantly looks like its designers, perhaps AI will still be missing something—something that has to do with the diversity among humans and our desire to form relationships with one another.

On that same Skype call, after mine and you discussion of AI, you said, “Given that R. was so interested in my opinion I now have a question I would like you to ask him.”

Earlier in the conversation you and I had been talking about the Landscape of Change: that there is so much talk these days about “entrepreneurship” and “follow your passion,” but maybe not everyone has an individual passion worth following and turning into an entrepreneurial business. I mentioned R. as an example, saying he was a bright and curious individual, and at a stage in his life when he was looking for something larger than himself to lend his life meaning.

“Ask R. for his ideas on how I can get people like him”—bright, curious and in search of something larger than themselves—“interested in participating in my work,” you said.

In the following days I kept forgetting to tell R. your response to his question as well as your question for him. Meanwhile on mine and your next Skype call, two weeks later, you and I had a nice breakthrough on the article you’re writing on what it means to be Exponentially Human. You were struggling with the question of how to write an essay as if it were written ten years in the future, when ten years in the future you expect writing to be eclipsed by other forms of communication. You mentioned for example that a decade from now each person might have a “bot” that provides a stream of images and audio personalized to the individual. With such “bots” available what reason will there be to communicate in writing? I almost wanted to say to you, “Forget about logical inconsistencies for now, Pamela, and just write the article.” But we kept with the question and came to a breakthrough. Why in the future (or the present even) would someone choose to communicate in such an antiquated, static and imperfect mode as writing? For no other reason—you and I concluded during our Skype conversation—than to let the reader know that there was a person at the other end of this written essay, a writer, who chose these words, imperfect as they are, in hopes of connecting with you, the reader, another person, and sharing my imperfections with you—that which makes us human.

My face lit up as we had this conversation, as it made me think of a similar conversation I had with you one late night at Hub Westminster, three years ago, when I was attempting, with much frustration, to design an algorithm that would sort through an archive of videos I was developing and deliver to the viewer exactly what he wanted. I showed you the archive, then selected several videos I thought you might enjoy, explaining that my algorithm would do just that (only better): choose the right videos for the right people.

“But I don’t care about the algorithm,” you said. “I’m interested in these videos is because YOU CHOSE them.”

The day after mine and your latest Skype conversation R. and I watched the film The Imitation Game, about Alan Turing and the creation of the machine that cracked the German Enigma code during World War II. The Alan Turing character in the film, which I should note was partly fictionalized, had a personality that made me think of what you said about how those who work on developing AI often feel an affinity with the logical processes of computers. Meanwhile there was a line said by the Alan Turing character in the film, when he is asked whether he believes machines can think as people do. I’ve found the quote:

Of course machines can’t think as people do. A machine is different from a person. Hence, they think differently. The interesting question is, just because something, uh… thinks differently from you, does that mean it’s not thinking? Well, we allow for humans to have such divergences from one another. You like strawberries, I hate ice-skating, you cry at sad films, I am allergic to pollen. What is the point of… different tastes, different… preferences, if not, to say that our brains work differently, that we think differently? And if we can say that about one another, then why can’t we say the same thing for brains…  built of copper and wire, steel?

All of this got me thinking about the diversity among people (and between people and machines). I remembered your response to R.’s question about AIs developing consciousness and shared it back with him. But first I asked him your question, about how to get people like him interested in your work.

“Make it something like this we just saw,” he said. “A story. Not a novel. People don’t read those these days. Even better than what we just saw [a movie] is a television series. Because that’s how people get their information these days. I also think there’s something about images that’s more natural.”

The same weekend R. and I saw The Imitation Game he and I watched a documentary by Werner Herzog, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, about a cave in France, discovered in 1994, that contained the oldest cave drawings ever discovered, some of them 32,000 years old. Near the end of the film one of the archaeologists studying the cave says there’s something about images, versus language, that communicates to us—to all of us humans—across time.

Finally, a postscript: R. says he another question for you, about the impact of emoji symbols on the English language and language in general. He says he has noticed that when he types a message on his iPhone it will suggest emoji symbols to replace some of his words, for example a smiley face symbol instead of the world happy. He’s curious about the consequences of this, negative and positive. Negative, in that emoji are developed by corporations; in that this is a sort of “artificial intelligence” in which your phone thinks for you when it suggests an emoji; and in that this is also a sort of “artificial emotion,” substituting a symbol of a smile for the actual, face-to-face thing. And finally there are the (potentially) positive consequences, captured in R.’s question to you: Is there going to be an international language based on [emoji-like, visual] symbols?

Jan 14, 2017 by Brian | Categories: Open Letters

My 2016 reply to the Before I Die Network (BIDN)

Hi Olivia

Your BIDN email (deadline today) said:

“Reminder: Let’s celebrate some not-shit things that happened in 2016!”

  • What has happened in your life this year that you want to celebrate?
  • What had you been striving for for a while that you managed to accomplish this year?

My reply is wide ranging – so I’m numbering the subheadings:

  1. My BIDN perspective on 2016
  2. U.lab – Moving from a course to a community
  3. Teal For Startups
  4. FASST and Holacracy
  5. Exponentially Human
  6. End of 2016

1 – My BIDN perspective on 2016

I’m looking back at notes I made at Before I Die Network (BIDN) events during 2016, and appreciating them as time capsules of the year.  As you’ve requested, my perspective here is a personal and positive one, so here goes:

For me 2016 began in an uncomfortable  state of transition and uncertainty, and I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that progress has been made, both in what I do and in how I see it. I had even more freedom than usual to “be myself” at the start of the year, and even fewer role models, and that was challenging.

In the context of the “Before I Die Network” I’m aware of being older than most of “the tribe” so I haven’t got as much time as other people to progress my to-do list.

My notes from a BIDN event  early in the year reminded me that, while I had no desire to stop being “a learner”, I also needed to look at what I have already learned and see what might be of value to others and how I might share it. I needed to look at my own insecurities and my reticence about sharing insights that I’ve gained through many years of work. I needed to recognise the value of having done that work outside any institutional boundaries.

Working on my own has meant complete lack of external financial support, but also complete freedom from any institutional constraints or traditional measures of value or success. Instead of judging myself by the standards of traditional organisations (where I have no place in the recognised hierarchy) I can choose to celebrate my pioneering zeal, my determination to follow my curiosity, and my decision (back in 2000) to embrace a low-responsibility, flexible-working, low-income, lifestyle. That approach was my response to the challenge of achieving a life-work balance, where I could do what I value.

I genuinely believe that people’s “value” should not be judged by their income, their level of consumption, or their job title.  However, old habits of thought are hard to escape, and I still find myself slipping into the trap of accepting the current value system when I’m with a roomful of strangers. If I start to judge myself according to that value system (of correlation between salary and personal worth) then I can easily feel worthless compared to others in the room who are there because of their organisational affiliation and job title. I do believe that, in future, attitudes and work-reward relationships will alter. It will become increasingly common for people to do work aligned with their purpose and what they value, without also having to do other work to pay the bills. These ideas are increasingly discussed now in the context of Universal basic Income, and of the impact on employment of Artificial Intelligence, Robots and Autonomous Vehicles. During 2016 I have been getting better at simply introducing myself as “independent” when people want a job title from me.

I feel less isolated now than I felt back in January. On reflection that may be because I began to feel more “mainstream” as my “tribe(s)” became easier to find and join. (NB In this context the “tribes” I belong to are a bit like a collection of extended families, with multiple connections between them, so it’s easy to belong to several.) BIDN is one of my tribes thanks to what it does and how it does it (by the way, Olivia, I don’t know anyone else leading such an enjoyable, fun approach to what could be existential anguish – you are amazing and inspirational).

I finish the year looking forward to further development on things that seem to be “coming together”.

2 – U.lab – Moving from a course to a community

Like quite a few other people during 2016, I have been doing the u.lab MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) for a second time. One of the benefits of a MOOC is that (unless you want a certificate) you can do as much or as little as you choose and the course materials can be accessed at any time, including after the course has finished. I could have simply continued studying the materials on my own at my own pace after my first u.lab course, but I chose to re-enrol. I wanted to revisit the main theme and also do some of the practical exercises I’d missed out on last time. In addition I wanted to continue being part of a local u.lab learning circle. Being “part of u.lab” is a bit like being “part of the Open University”. It provides an immediate point of contact, a shared “cultural experience”, a language and a framework for connecting on wider interests and personal perspectives.

In its way u.lab is becoming one of the “tribes” I belong to. The learning circle I have been working with has formed itself into an ongoing online u.lab group, with regular monthly meetings on Zoom, and additional ad hoc meetings online and face-to-face as people decide what suits them. We began with simply the six people in our circle. We have been joined by other u.labbers that we know personally, and we’ll welcome others who find us and want to join.

Yesterday was the final live session of the 2016 u.lab MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). One of the emerging themes of that session was that u.lab is becoming more that an eight week course. It is becoming a community, and our continuation group is one example of the truth of that. The emergence of community is a good example of the relationship between u.lab in theory and u.lab in practice. At a macro level it looks at various broken systems, and how “the way we do things” is no longer working. On a personal level it is about learning to lean into “the emerging future”, rather than trying to be over-prescriptive and controlling. U.lab wasn’t set up to grow a community, but that is what is naturally emerging.

For more information on u.lab see

3 – Teal For Startups

Teal for Startups (T4S) is another of my 2016 tribes, which I have found supportive in many direct and indirect ways. There are huge areas of overlap between u.lab ideas (and community and culture) and T4S.  Some of my personal, positive take-aways from T4S during 2016 are:

  • More contacts with people who are exploring aspects of organisational change and  “what makes sense” as we move forward in our rapidly changing world
  • A “home” for expressing and developing my ideas about alternative value systems through being part of the T4S wealth stream.
  • Experience of applying Teal principles (and u.lab ones) in practice
  • Experience of using unfamiliar (high-bandwidth) tools for online group work.
  • Experience of a rapid growth, purposeful, shared-culture yet diverse, collaborative community scattered across the globe

The best way to get a flavour of T4S is via the T4S Medium Page

4 – FASST and Holacracy

Dadamac Connect posts of 2016 are dominated by the emergence of FASST. One of the things I’m happiest about as we head to the year’s end is how it’s shaping up.

I know its structure (it’s an inspiral – see December 11th FASST update)

Holacracy was designed for rather different organisational models, but has useful ideas and structures to inspire us.

There are now a dozen or more of us pushing and prodding at FASST (and relating it to Holacracy). We’re discovering things about purpose, and blocks, and roles that need energising. We’re discovering what FASST is and what it’s good for and where it may take us. We’re also discovering that it’s operating system is of interest to other collaborative organisations, and so it it becoming part of a “collaboration of collaborations” as well as a platform for individual people to collaborate with each other.

FASST is taking on a life of its own  – and I’m delighted to be part of its tribe.

5 – Exponentially Human

“Exponentially Human” is a chapter that I’ve contributed to a book on futures which is due to be published early in 2017. (See Nov 19th – Exponentially Human and “the story so far) Contributing my chapter is one of the practical outcomes I can point to for 2016.

I see FASST as having a part to play in our journey towards an “Exponentially Human” future, and I believe that people in my current tribes (some already mentioned above, some simply resting in my thoughts as I write) will be part of that future. (Olivia, this is all part of what I want to explore with you / BIDN when we get some time together.)

I have no idea where the idea of being “Exponentially Human’ will take me, or what “exponentially human” friends I’ll make along the way, but it’s looking positive.

6 – End of 2016

So that’s me on your deadline of Decemebr 16th. Lots of challenges ahead for next year but plenty to look back on celebrate – and the way different threads in my life are coming together, I’m hoping it will get much easier for me to write shorter posts in 2017. Seasons greetings to you and everyone in BIDN. Thanks for your inspiring encouragement during the past 12 months and for nudging me to take this time for reflection on personal positives and progress in 2016.

Dec 16, 2016 by pamela | Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , , , ,

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