Ming the Mechanic:
Group Specifications

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Group Specifications2002-02-22 21:08
by Flemming Funch

These are some sketchy ideas around the subject of specifying what a group is about, so that people know what they go into when they join it, and so that others know what to expect from the group.

I believe that a lot of inter-personal conflict comes about because people have different, unspoken assumptions about what group they're in together. If I think we're doing A and you think we're doing B, and we haven't really talked about that, then no wonder we'll get into an unsolvable argument about how to do things.

So, the more that the common agreement can be stated at the door, the better.

That of course makes sense mainly when there is a door. So, it would definitely apply to the virtual workgroups within NCN. And it would also apply to NCN as a whole. People specifically join, and they sometimes get disappointed when they realize they're in a different place than they thought they were.

When you join a group you're pretty much entering into a contract about doing what the group is about, following its rules and furthering its outcome.

Maybe a group is very loose and doesn't have a specific outcome, but there's almost always a purpose, a reason for creating the group, and there would always be some kind of implied rules. So, the point here is that maybe these rules should be a lot more explicit, so that people can be more conscious of what they sign up for.

The only rule that I think universally needs to apply to all groups anywhere is that one is always allowed to leave. In other words:

* If you no longer agree, you can leave. *

Aside from that, any group can set up whatever rules they want. They might organize themselves any which way they want, and enforce the rules any which way they want, as long as they don't violate the "prime directive" that any member who no longer likes it can leave. A group might be run totally dictatorially by one person, and it might have strict rules about behavior, or dress code, or eating habits or whatever it feels like making rules about. As long as anybody feels like joining, and as long as they could always leave, that is fine. The group could even have very specific and bigotted criteria for who could join. If the group is only for gay black men, and nobody else is allowed, and that's clearly stated, that's perfectly fine. And it is of course just as fine if another group is only for white celibate catholic nuns, or whatever.

A group can restrict membership to whatever it wants, and can of course also deny membership according to whatever method it chooses. As long as all of that is clear, and anybody can leave when they want to leave.

A declaration of what a group is about could be along the lines of what I specified for TeamNet Teams elsewhere on this site. See Team Profile. In other words, you spell out what kind of group it is, what it is trying to do, what membership criteria are, how it makes decisions, what services it offers, etc. What is not on that list, however, are the group's rules for itself.

A group might also, internally or externally, state its mission statement, its current plans, the outcome it is working towards, etc.

So, potentially a simple, standardized protocol for specifying a group, similar to the TeamNet form, might make things more simple and productive for everybody.

And potentially a workgroup might be more productive if there were a work flow built into the software here that led it towards defining its mission statement, its agenda, its proposed outcomes, etc.

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23 Feb 2002 @ 03:34 by mmmark : Getting closer
You are touching on good ideas and some of them you have used already. As you have talked about the diversity of interests among members, I see plenty of freedom for these things to happen. Do you truly understand how important NCN is to many of us? It runs away with the mind in a liberating way to come here. It holds hope out to a vast number of people who want to organize, to make something better than we have. The reason there has been so much pressure is because there is not enough release in expression, because either people don't know how to use the site to advantage, or they don't see how they can do it here the NCN way. We come here to experience the oasis in a virtual cafe, but there is little on the menu except for freedom in conversation. Maybe that's ok for some, but then we are not all self-motivated types, or mutually ambititious. Some people like to lead, many do not, but that should not prevent us from being concrete. Now I'm going to use a questionable analogy to MacDonald's - people go there because they have tasty stuff, a moderate menu, and they can get it quickly. They don't have to learn over a long period of time how to use the golden acrhed cafe, it's straight ahead. There is no reason why NCN can't present itself a good clean image and deliver lots of stuff efficiently. Keep talking Ming. I want to hear more!  

23 Feb 2002 @ 05:12 by shawa : I´ve opened up new sections
... in the Workgroups Area. I´d like to experiment for a time, with no agenda behind, except for the JOY of meeting like-minded souls. It´s the PEOPLE that count, every person being a gift from and to the Universe. I´m already collecting jewels; perhaps being open to abundance is important in how you perceive the results of your actions.  

23 Feb 2002 @ 05:26 by ming : Great Initiative!
.. on the new workgroups, Shakti. Yeah, the people. I might often err on the side of looking for some kind of perfect system that makes things work. But, yes, it is of course the people that make anything work, and paying attention to who's there.  

14 Mar 2002 @ 14:31 by ov : work groups
This is of particular interest to me. I've been having discussions in various places on how to establish core groups and apply them to a project structure. Lots of different aspects to it.

Lately I've been thinking that most things that are complex should be done on seperate but connected sites. Each site develops its core group which knows almost all aspects of its own projects. And then there would be some people that travel between groups. Kind of like the open space technology applied to the net as a whole.

At a higher level the whole network is a bunch of agents providing output for the use by some other agent. Data gets transformed into information through the process of packaging it so that it can be transported between groups.

Wouldn't mind participating in any group here that is discussing this type of thing.


14 Mar 2002 @ 16:37 by ming : Connected Work Groups
Ah, now we're talking. Cool. I think I agree with you, and I got lots of ideas I'm playing with. I will set up a group to talk about this stuff.  

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