Platform specification/use cases

From Organic Design

In describing how platform is used, we are in essence describing a method for systematic organisation on a personal, group and societal level. The fundamental assumption we make is that individuals or groups are striving toward the achievement of goals and visions and are using a systematic approach to achieve them. We will attempt to describe clearly the activities and procedures individuals or groups engage in when working toward goals using a system, as well as what is needed to coordinate the activities of multiple groups forming societies or institutions.

Even though we will describe these things in a technology-neutral way, these usage scenarios can form the basis of "epics" and "stories" that are used in agile software development. This will aid our efforts to develop software that is compliant with the platform specification. software-specific considerations such as interface layouts and networking technology is described in our software architecture article.

Platform use for self organisation

Our entry point to using a platform is naturally the perspective of the individual user and the activities people engage in to get work done, be it for private or business affairs. We refer to the systematic approach for pursuing these activities as "self organisation". Other terms commonly used for this process are personal organisation or self-management:

Quote.pngIn business, education, and psychology, self-management refers to methods, skills, and strategies by which individuals can effectively direct their own activities toward the achievement of objectives, and includes goal setting, decision making, focusing, planning, scheduling, task tracking, self-evaluation, self-intervention, self-development, etc. Also known as executive processes (in the context of the processes of execution).
— Wikipedia, Self-management

In software terms, applications that support these activities go under the umbrella term "PIM tool" - Personal Information Management tool.

Self organisation methodology

Two of the leading approaches for how to go about self organisation are principle-based and productivity-based. The difference is which area of life they use as a starting point. There is a parallel between principle-based approaches and the notion of "leadership" (defining direction, vision, values, creating alignment), whereas productivity-based approaches are more aligned with notions of "management" (assessing the current state and organising for productivity). Therefore we can refer to "principle-based leadership" or "productivity-based management" approaches in referring to the two schools of thought.

Principle-based leadership

Principle-based methods focus on defining personal high level goals, vision and principles (or habits). A popular example of this approach is Stephen Covey's "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". By maintaining a small number of specific habits, Covey maintains, people can achieve a balanced life and enjoy success. However, he does not cover in any great detail how to organise daily activities, projects or to-do lists.

Getting Things Done:

David Allen's "Getting Things Done" (shortened in popular usage to "GTD") is a systematic approach for gaining control and attaining perspective in personal matters through self-management. The claimed benefits for people implementing the approach are increased and stress-free productivity and a state of flow, creativity and positive engagement while maintaining "mind like water". While his original book of the same title introduced the "Getting Things Done" approach, his more recent title Making It All Work and the terminology therein has been used as a basis for this review.

Allen describes three models that make up his system: Mastering Workflow, Natural Planning and Horizons of Focus. The three models are interconnected horizontally through sequence and vertically through hierarchy via eleven core underlying concepts: There are five stages of workflow for gaining control (Capturing, Clarifying, Organising, Reflecting and Engaging / Actions) and six horizons of focus for gaining perspective (Engaging / Actions, Projects, Areas of Focus, Goals, Vision and Purpose / Principles)[1].

There is a clear alignment between the GTD approach and the OrganicDesign values and methods. Conceptually, we can relate to notions of workflows and organisational hierarchies and can imagine how they might be implemented in a collaborative web-based system. These concepts map very well to ontologies representing organisations, in this case the organisation that represents a person. More importantly, it is an holistic and unified approach to self organisation: There is no distinction between "work" and "life" in the system - why not use one tool to effectively manage everything in life we care about? Allen also shows how the same system can be applied to any organisation because the concepts map across quite naturally from individuals to groups. Unification is an important objective for OrganicDesign so we prefer to use tools and methods that inherently support it by being designed from a unified perspective.


  • Setup
  • Direction and administration
  • Communications
  • Finance

Group platform

Activities and processes for group activities

  • Setup - group formation and membership


  • Group decision making
  • Direction and administration
  • Communications
  • Finance

Setup & deployment

  • Organisation
  • Member

Roles & responsibilities

Procedures & practices



  • Notifications
  • Shared
  • Resource booking
  • System (roles, people, processors)

Forms & records

  • Reports


  • Payment methods
  • products and services
  • subscriptions
  • invoices

Platform Network

  1. See also the explanation at, and the entire workflow map set is available here.