Connected Creativity Circles

a model for empowered group collaboration

The Problem

A problem in todayÕs information society is overload of information. It can become difficult to get the information you need, exactly when you need it, and exactly in the volume and format that will best work for you.

Likewise with the connection between people. How do we find the people we most will enjoy being with, how do we set things up so that our interaction with these people is most productive? We might be overloaded with people who donÕt give us what weÕre looking for, or we might be unable to find the people that we would really click with and have very productive relationships and collaborations with.

No person is an island. We need other people, we need information, we need resources. Very little would be accomplished if we had to do everything all alone.

The question becomes how to structure the way that humans collaborate, so that we can all get what weÕre looking for in life as much as possible.

There are existing structures, of course. For example, there are family units, in which the members naturally have roles and some kind of understanding of how to share them. There are companies, where you get hired for pay and you do what your supervisor tells you, and you try to work with the people who happen to be around you. There are clubs, special interest groups, circles of friends, etc.

In the electronic world of the Internet various types of groupings of people have developed. You can hang out in a chat room and talk with whoever happens to show up. You can join a "mailing list" (discussion group) and get to know the people who are members of it, and have conversations with them. You can join organizations and get listed as a member. You can join a threaded discussion forum (bulletin board) and participate in discussions there.

However, none of these schemes are working well for everybody, and they all have missing elements. They work within a certain scope, and they break down if certain boundaries are exceeded. For example, a chat room works fine with 2-10 people in it, but would be chaos if you had 1000 participants.

Some Aims for a Solution

OK, so weÕre looking for a system of communication and collaboration amongst groups of people that will work significantly better than what currently exists. There would be certain core principles that weÕre aiming for:

A Model

Imagine a small group of people as a circle or a cell. For a group of people to work together as a team it needs to be in a certain range of size. Naturally a group canÕt have any less than 2 members, and if it has much more than 20 we probably arenÕt quite talking about a team any longer. 8-12 people might be optimum for group collaboration, where there is both enough diversity of skills to cover a wide range of activities, and at the same time enough coherence of purpose and of effective communication to be able to accomplish something.

Imagine many of these circles, each one with its own unique composition of members and interests and stated purpose.

The circles will overlap in that individuals can be a member of several circles. Or, more precisely, one or more members in each circle SHOULD be members of other circles. That will be one of the mechanisms of creating interaction between different groups.

The circles act as cells in the body of a bigger network. The essential work of each cell is going on within itself. Information or results that is needed by other cells, or information and results from other cells that are needed by this cell, will be passed through the walls of the cell by osmosis. In other words, the circle will have interaction with circles around it, and with the activities happening at other levels.

Circles group naturally together into bigger aggregations of circles. This happens not by decree but by natural resonance. Sometimes things need to happen that can't be done by one circle alone, and a council amongst a number of circles need to take action.

How does a circle work?

A circle consists of people who are willing to work together and who share a common purpose. It consists of a small number of people who are able to all interact with eachother at the same time. 12 is ideal, but it can be more or less.

Nobody can insist on becoming a member of a circle. Admittance needs to be unanimously approved by the existing members.

Being a member of a circle represents a commitment to the work and the purpose of the group.

One is free to leave the circle, if one no longer shares its purpose or its methods.

The members of a circle share a working space. That can be a physical location where they work together, it can be an occasional meeting room, or it can be an electronic virtual space.

The members, or one of the members, produces a regular update of the results and progress that has been accomplished. This is passed on to related circles, and to higher order aggregations of circles.

Different circles can establish a link between them, so that the members of one can stay informed about the activites of the other.

The activities within a circle are done by consensus. That means that everybody needs to be happy with what is going on. It doesn't mean that one votes and that the majority rules, it means that things are divided up in a way that everybody feels comfortable with their role.

... seize the magic!