Making the Move from It to We: A Manifesto for Open Participatory Organizations – Parts 1 and 2


Awesome, I’m listening today.

@bonnittaroy: I had a thought about the part of our discussion where we talk about the opt-in/opt-out relationship one might have with an organization, or with one’s work, versus the the stronger (yet more constraining) notion of commitment.

We should distinguish between opting in to an organization or social network or other external/intersubjective pattern or construct—and committing (or expressing a commitment, or being committed) to one’s values. (You were probably saying as much in our talk, while I was trying to make a slightly different point.)

More than values, I think we can be committed to ourselves, to each other, or to reality/Being/life itself, and based on our negotiation (as you put it) of these core commitments/values we might opt in or opt out of any particular relationship or organization or projects based all kinds of contingent variables.

This is not to say that a “commitment” is something permanent that can’t be changed by the fluctuation of our energies or circumstances, but a sense of commitment does seem to be something relatively enduring—and describes a trajectory that transcends any number of particular opt-in/out states.

With regard to Open Participatory Organizations, I think you’re right (and I feel clearer on this now): the notion of commitment is too strong, and I can see why you would steer away from it. It seems misplaced to me now to insist on a commitment to a particular project, organization, or network. Rather, we express our commitments through our participation, which can take myriad forms (hence opt-in/opt-out).

So part of the creative work of an OPO, it seems to me, is to provide conditions where we can express our commitments more faithfully that we would otherwise be able to. Yet at the same time, the organization must give us the freedom and flexibility to explore alternative modes of expression, even if that means opting out sometimes.

On the other hand, the shared commitment people have—to their values, to themselves and to each other—becomes attractors for sustained (and sustainable) participation, which I think is what we ultimately need to create the world we want to live in.

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Yes. The idea is to make “commitment” “committed choice” that is based on freedom. You might, as an outside observer, see a consistent pattern, but the choice is not based on the principle of consistency, but on the principle of choice. That makes a huge difference.

One of the advantages, is that you can immediately see where the energy actually wants to go. This is often a bummer, when you give people choice, but it allows you to deal with more of reality, what is actually the case…