Orchestration & Gardening

Note: When referring to we I mean the group behind #14mmm

In context of our self-organization discourse, we are currently contesting the important question:

How to organize ourselfes?

By that we do not only mean working groups and their outcomes and relations to each other, but even the broader question of if there is a group identity at all.

As the model of Organized Networks can help us here to understand the intertwined actions of individual actors, first we have to keep clear that no one is forced to work within this group. Then we can eventually start to ask questions about internal structures, interest groups and the main aim we're subscribing to.

For me it is important to point out, that, by any chance, the network itself as a resilient structure is able to cope with different domestic relational configurations. Therefore the actions of many incrementally add up to collective intention and action, emerging into a common sense.

How to decide?

At this point we are facing an idealistic combat between the mere idea of decentralization in contrast to the need of bundeling the information. Whereas we will see, there does not necessarily need to be a contradictory relation at all.

Currently our discussion focusses on the question of Which tools to use at which point? or how to integrate different communication habits into proposed bleeding edge technologies. But the answer is simple: We're just using the ones that work.

More important, it seems, remains the question of shared identity, meaning.

Which are common principles that we can agree upon?
Where do we meet?

This way broader discourse has only been touched slightly at the fringe of our arguments. But it is the important foundation we build on. Until now we've had different ways of imposing will into the group; either by just doing or by complaining.

Wouldn't it be nice to have another way to distributively shape this process?

Further on I will present the ideas of Orchestration and Gardening within the context of self-organization.


You know the pathetic gesture the conductor uses to coordinate the group play in front of her. One could be inclined to believe she is the one to play the music. But that is just not true: It's the musicians who perform together as a whole, coordinated by a single individual.

The conductor is not telling everyone precisely what to do at given point in time, but when to start. The question answered is about timing and not about choreography.

This is where our distributed process comes into play. As long as we maintain and reproduce the ways of linear, positivistic time management we're used to from hierarchical organizations, like any Networked Organization from the reals of Academia, the nation state or corporations, we will not be able to understand the full notion of autonomous agents. By contrast, let's face circular time modes and organizational implementations like regular plenary meetings or Kanban. Both focus on the constant development of recurring needs by a periodic way of action and give groups and individuals the power to decide how to act at any given point.

Not like roadmaps or deadlines that tend to enslave people. With a focus on distributed orchestration of a distributed process, one could say that the problem of time reduces to a problem of timing.

When it's clear which resource to spend, which temporary group emerges from the needs of a situation, cooperative action is not about planning, conducting and evaluating the outcomes later on, but having a plan then means sharing needs and possibilities about the smallest friction and intensely cooperating with others while maintaining individual sovereignity, mutual respect and an open, transparent appearance of one's personal goals.


While we all grew up within a society that turned a project-based one, we've lost the connection to processes that endure. Where a project has a start and end date, processes sometimes just emerge, accumulate from little nifty details and disperse in the same way.

Once we are caught up in such a process, we tend to believe others are taking care of everything and me, myself and I can consume the organizational spook that superpersonally has been done. It is not that easy. Individuals spend time, hours of hours, into creating organizational structures, processes that feel as if they were not there. Because the best design as one that does not interfere, but facilitates.

So the maintenance of the structures, the background moderation of group communications and knowledge repositories is a main impact on success or failure. Because if it works, no one will feel it. If it doesn't, cracks appear and the collective process is contested.

The gardening brings peace and quitedue into the process, referring to the circular time mode, because it constantly cleans up loosen threads, closes open questions or rearranges the representations for easier understanding. Also, while looking and interacting with the entities, one does become familiar with them and is able to embed them more easily into a broader context.

It's a powerful metaphore that can easily be understood.

To subsume:

  • Distributed Processes require different organizational metaphores than within a regular Project Management framework.
  • Orchestration is a modus operandi that coordinates individuals and the timing of their actions under a common aim.
  • Gardening is an activity that delivers clear representations, cleans up badlands and helps to acquaint oneself with any detail possible.

Dies ist ein Begleitthema zum ursprünglichen Beitrag unter https://blog.allmende.io/orchestration-gardening/