We've seen what "business as usual" looks like:
- there's a bias towards the status quo
- people protect their work through secrecy
- the highest-paid person makes the decisions
- people are afraid to speak out and challenge the powers that be
- innovation happens by accident
Through our work in the Open Source and Open Education communities we saw a different way. A more collaborative, meritocratic, and ‘open’ approach that respected diversity and difference over geographic location.
While working openly seems to function well inside the software industry, it seems difficult to use such practices inside of large, hierarchical organisations. Surely, people need advanced technical skills to work in open, distributed ways.
Technology is not something to battle against, but a catalyst, an enabler of change.
Moving from working for institutions and corporations to work with global non-profits, we met hundreds of people working to solve global problems.
As we began to take what we had learned from the world of tech back to our ‘home’ communities we realised that these practices could revolutionise their work. We began to advocate for ‘open’ everything. We became believers.
The more we began to work horizontally through networks, the more we got pushback from hierarchies. The chain of command can unnecessarily complicate projects and processes. We realised that we would have to fight for the right to collaborate with like-minded thinkers.
Our aim became to contribute what and where we can, accept ourselves as we are and just be human – flaws and everything.
Working together online and occasionally through conference sessions, the real power was when we managed to meet at events. These brought together a constituency of people who thought in similar ways to us.
Soon, it became clear that our whole social and cultural context is rooted in maintaining the status quo. We are taught to replicate existing ideas and structures and protect ourselves and others against ‘rogue ideas’. Fears that others would ‘steal’ work killed some projects dead. We began to lose hope.
Despite the constant pushback from the existing order, we strongly believed that everyone should benefit from the approach that we had seen work so well. We began to push back against the pushback. After all, you cannot kill, de-fund, or push to the side an idea whose time has come.
Openness invites openness
Showing up to projects and pushing for open day after day began to be met with some success. An important part of working open is modeling the behaviors we want to see in our peers and colleagues. People began to see the benefits that working openly could bring them.
We were finally in a position to bring this approach to others in the purest form we could create: a co-operative solely focused on helping people work openly. We have to share what we know.
Today, we have a single product for new clients: the Thinkathon. Through this one-day session, we help clients wrestle with their biggest problems, showing where they can get started, and how the open approaches we have adopted and developed can help solve them.
Our acrobatic thought processes are curious, bold, experimental. We improvise a lot, but are discipled in that improvisation.
We play with the new and shiny tools, but we pick up the right tool for the job. We are so inclusive that we’re eclectic.
Our solidarity gives us power. We believe in surplus, not profit and work as a collective, not as individuals.
We are constantly learning and take a considered approach to everything we do. We strive to illuminate along the way, giving our clients a competitive edge in the world of social good.
We invite collaboration and aim to be co-operative despite challenges that come up along the way. We share wildly to invite brilliant people to share their ideas and feedback on the work we’re doing.