Posted by & filed under Open Letters.

Hi Christopher. Following our meeting yesterday this is for reference and sharing:

You and I are meeting at my place on Wednesday to continue our FASST planning. We’ll invite the other five London-based, potential FASST people in case any are free to join us. Together we’ll consider the points that Sally raised in her last Skype call with me.

We may also tell the handful of people who are far from London and interested, with a view to involving them online. I’m thinking that If we do invite people at a distance, it will for a “meet and greet” and “putting names to faces” rather than for the whole time. That’s for various practical reasons, including time zones, lack of prior warning, and simply not yet feeling ready to enable the dynamics of a meeting that mixes a group F2F meeting with a group online meeting.

A clear purpose and strategy

We discussed my struggles to explain why I want FASST to happen. We know that you and I have several overlapping interests that we intend to address together, and we see that collaborative work as belonging in FASST. We decided that it would be best to focus our initial discussion of purpose on the most obvious areas where our interests overlap and where we can be helpful to each other.

The initial area for consideration was the overlap between your work with the Centre for Vision in the Developing World and my experiences with Dadamac and other work in Africa. We are both systems thinkers, so we naturally discussed inter-related ideas and patterns in addition to the specifics of our work.

We agreed that in International Development we are both looking forward to systemic transformation away from top-down interventions and towards two-way communication and collaboration. Regarding the way that you and I organise our collaboration (which is initially person-to-person, not organisation-to-organsation) we are looking for ways to help each other. We intend to use the strategies provided by holacracy. If they work well in our person-to-person collaborations, then, later on, we may start to introduce them into our wider collaborative networks and organisations. We expect other people in FASST to use holacracy wholeheartedly within FASST. What organisational structures they use in their initiatives and networks beyond FASST is up to them and the other people involved with them.

We decided that the best initial description of FASST’s purpose is “organising for development” – and our meaning of “development” is very wide,. We  believe it is likely to fit everyone who is interested in being involved in FASST. “Development” includes personal development, local community development, and much more. It even includes the development of FASST itself. In FASST “International Development” is simply one example of the meaning of “development”.

By a happy co-incidence a stated purpose of “organising for development” is a good fit for the FASST acronym. FASST stands for Freedom, Accountability and Structure for Systemic Transformation. The “Freedom, Accountability and Structure” part relates to the “organising” side of FASST and the “Systemic Transformation” relates to the “development “side.

I like our stated purpose because it includes people who are interested in FASST mainly because of its organisational structures and people who are interested mainly in “development”. At the start we need people who, like you and me, are equally interested in organisational structures and in development of some kind. We are interested not only in Holacracy, but also Teal and U.Theory – because of the ways they help us to collaborate better within and across organisations.

Moving on as a Holacracy

You and I have started to collaborate by “rubbing minds”, sharing contacts, comparing experiences, and generally helping each other in whatever small ways we can. As we go along we want to learn how to use Holacracy, so that we can express blockages in terms of “tensions” and missing roles. We want to develop skills of using Holacracy so that we can confidently define the purposes and accountabilities of these missing roles, so other people can easily see if they want to energise those roles. Initially it will only be other people in FASST who will be invited to energise roles for each other. Later, when we have established our “usual way of doing things” (i.e.FASST’s cultural norms) then we can invite “outsiders” to join us to energise roles. As long as we always keep a large enough core group to maintain FASST culture the newcomers will be able to pick it up easily. In this way we will nurture the initiatives we already support, and we will learn from each other, sharing what we learn with people beyond FASST.

When we (i.e. you, me and hopefully some others) meet next week, we will develop and refine these ideas and then we will be nearer the next steps of clarifying roles, putting them on glass frog and officially becoming a Holacracy.