Focusing on High-Impact-but-Difficult changes

Similar to how Wikipedia grows and upgrades accuracy so Global Guilds must enable a decentralized focus on High-Impact-but-Difficult issues – and find patterns across those solutions


EVERY GLOBAL GUILD needs to embed a strategy of Accelerating Responsiveness throughout all its members so that in diverse ways each corporation helps to minimize the collective risk of backlashes to the whole Guild. Yet to achieve that, there can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Broad-brush solutions simply will not work. Instead, each Guild must create the conditions under which Progressive Refinement and Viral Spread are applied to the Guild Principles themselves.

This is analogous to crew-members of a variety of ocean-going vessels – not just the tankers – having the facility to go online to participate in various Sat Nav chat-rooms in which they can feed-in their own sightings of other tankers, corrections to charted iceberg positions, suggestions for new or better Rules of the Sea, newly-discovered shortcuts and (most importantly) potential shortcuts that just need enough crew-members of other tankers to alert their captains to join-in in order to help break through an ice-sheet.

The conditions under which Global Guilds can encourage all the inconceivably complex optimizations needed to reduce each member-organization’s contribution to stirring up collective crises are similar to how something like Wikipedia gets written: create a shared vision, maintain a high degree of openness and transparency, allow almost anyone to get involved, impose very few rules, and keep things flexible. These are the general conditions needed to create what, in a book I wrote with a colleague in 1996, we referred to as an ‘Accelerating Organization’ – namely one that can keep learning and adapting in ways that steadily improve both its ability to fulfill its overall purpose and its ability to keep learning and adapting. It is a virtuous reinforcement of ‘learning to change’ combined with ‘changing to learn’. Far more traditionally, it is also the way that vendors self-organize their stalls in huge markets. No one specifies what it is that people can sell or what stalls should look like or where particular vendors can set up. But for millennia the process has nevertheless led markets to adapt themselves until they best-satisfy the complex and often conflicting needs of local buyers.

Initially, this kind of decentralized Progressive Refinement can best be stimulated by a Global Guild setting up intranet wiki sites for its members that allow flexible creation and editing of web pages within very-loose constraints. From the start, carefully chosen sections of those wiki sites can be made available to broader specialist groups such as government bodies, and some areas can even be made accessible to contributions from the general public over the internet. This should eventually build to a full AI-based system that can synthesize contributions from extremely high numbers of sources and extract meaningful patterns from them. At the highest level the wiki sites should initially be organized around the six Global-Guild Principles – Unelected Responsibility, True Costing, Collective Sustainability, Mirrored Tolerance, Pre-emptive Recovery and Holistic Perspective – in order to provide coherence to what everyone individually elects to do.

In that sense the six Guild Principles are acting in a similar way to the shared-values across any given community. When potentially everything else is up for grabs, shared-values act like stabilizers that hold a community steady. In contrast, if a large group is more disjointed, and values are not broadly shared, it is far harder for the community as a whole to remain stable in the midst of turbulence. This has implications for multiculturalism in general. In the context of Global Guilds it means that the shared Guild Principles will help glue the loose confederations of Guild-members together.

Over time, the original Guild Principles will be steadily improved and maybe even completely superseded as a result of decentralized Progressive Refinement. But, however they evolve, their initial existence will act as a means of channeling (without stifling) uncontrolled widespread creativity, experimentation and innovation. It is also a way of ensuring that constructive revolution does not unintentionally degrade into counterproductive anarchy.