Responsibilty & Information

Decentralised, distributed responsibility (decision-making) and open information systems, lower the cost of conceiving, implementing and distributing ideas, and liberate individual fulfilment. Recording individual decisions in open information systems distributes knowledge, informs future decision-making, and ensures accountability.

Ideas (better ways of doing things or human potential) and implementing them (realising potential) are most effective and inexpensive when they are conceived and implemented by those whom they affect. At this level ideas are only adopted if they make a real improvement to people’s work, making it more efficient or more effective, that is, reducing the amount of work required or improving the result from the same amount of work.

At the level where an idea is applicable people often do not ask (or receive) extra money for the development and implementation of their ideas, but they still develop and implement them because they make their jobs easier and because contributing realises their potential.

The pursuit of power or money leads to central control of ideas and information silos. An idea adopted by the top of a control hierarchy and put through a centralised approval process is expensive to implement.

It gets expensive as soon as the boss asks for the business case, the business plan, the meeting of controllers to approve the money to start the project, which then begins with the project plan, the project manager, the IT development team, cross-organisation working team, needless documentation, transport, accommodation, numerous meetings, pilot, roll out, and grudging implementation of a centralised, inflexible new process that is not any better than the last (which had been adapted under the radar to work).

And it is not any better, because what is needed is a flexible, decentralised decision-making system in which people at the local level implement their ideas, and a central, open information system that lets ideas spread; a change that invalidates centralised, top-down decision-making and the implementation of inflexible systems in the first place.

There may still be a hierarchical structure in an organisation, but it is one that facilitates communication and organisation, not control. It is a structure that forms organically according to the communication channels available and what best meets the need.

The best performance measure of the individual is their own measure of their contribution towards meeting that organisation’s particular purpose. The best way to know their contribution is to ask them.

Measuring people’s contribution on predefined activity targets is an attribute of control cultures. It demonstrates distrust. These measures limit ingenuity and do not measure against the far more important factor of meeting the customer’s need for what the organisation provides.

The only true, real and relevant measures are people’s own measure of their contribution to the organisation meeting its customer’s needs, and the measure of their customer’s need being met.

The fixed and inflexible, unsympathetic and intolerant, application of fixed rules, morals or policies is what makes the by-the-book manager, bureaucrat or police officer so harmful. Fixed rules applied rigidly do not cater for the diversity of human nature and circumstance. Fixed rules, applied rigidly, harm.

Rules must be considered guidelines and their interpretation and application based on individual circumstance. There must be a higher principle at play, which is fulfilment without harm.

Distributed responsibility means that people apply whatever rules they need flexibly in regard to individual circumstances, recording all decisions. This means that those with different circumstances are catered for according to their need and are not harmed because their circumstances do not fit the code. Recording decisions and circumstances means that decisions are accountable and learnings are shared.

In common purpose organisations, people can always feedback through open channels. There is a continuous conversation, a continuous learning and adaptation process as feedback is continuously fed in and acted on.

Through idea markets, collective intelligence and wikis, all people in an organisation can assess and contribute ideas for fulfilling that organisation’s particular purpose. The wiki, ideas market or collective intelligence zone is a website in which people (anonymously or otherwise) submit ideas that are rated by whoever desires to rate them. The website filters ideas, giving recognition to the best ideas and distributing them.

A key element is the self-filtering by self-interest, which ensures that those who are more likely to be well-informed take part.

Responsibility, in common purpose organisations, is ensured by distributed responsibility and individual accountability. The organisation’s members are treated as individuals so customers can be treated as individuals. Policies, guidelines and rules are interpretable by individual members to the individual circumstances of customers. Members are individually responsible for their contributions and so individually accountable for them too.


[Excerpt from The Common Purpose]


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The common purpose, principle and ways are the fundamental message to convey and are not time dependant. They form the basis of The Common Purpose.

[NOTE: This site, and The Common Purpose, have nothing to do with 'Common Purpose' leadership training in the UK or those that rail against them.]

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