Potential Management is the name we have given to the process of collaboratively modelling what is possible, and then deciding what is desired. This is because the process resembles the conscious modelling and management of potential - of individuals, groups, organisations and eventually, societies. Buckminster Fuller, who inspired this notion, referred to a similar process as the "World Game". He believed it represented the future (or maybe the end?) of politics in an open and democratic world, where real-time, public access to global data, would offer anyone the opportunity to model alternative scenarios at any scale and propose them for vetting and implementation through grass-roots, or "bottom-up", decision-making processes.
In order to implement the concept of Potential Management in the way described above, certain conditions need to be in place. What is needed is a clear picture of the "actual", the facts about what is happening currently and has happened in the past at the different scales of human society. Public access to the scientifically-verifiable raw statistics of society is required, aggregated in a way that protects privacy and still allows a clear picture of the current global state of affairs to emerge. This is why openness, in the sense of "organisational transparency", is so important. It allows a global shared vision to emerge. From there it is just common-sense to move on to Potential Management and to collaboratively ask: "What if...?"
Potential Management within the Platform network
The Platform software we are developing will support Potential Management. People that have set up or joined Platform instances and are therefore members of the Platform network will have access to system-wide (global) data and statistics. Eventually they will be able to collectively view and manage their shared potential. We consider this a key example of how the principle "Think Global, Act Local" is implemented in practice.
Potential Management within the Platform network requires a critical mass of people running projects, performing work, managing resources and filling roles within this shared system, within which things like tasks, projects and roles are clearly defined and consistently implemented.
Modelling what could be
There are a few different entry points into Potential Management. One is to define an outcome and elicit what would be required to achieve that outcome. Any complex project with numerous contributors is suitable, examples would be the construction of a building, the installation of infrastructure or the creation of a new organisation. Once the project outcome has been clearly defined and ratified by the stakeholders, the requirements can then be met by anyone wishing to contribute and qualified to do so, as defined by the specified outcome sought. Contributions would take place through individuals or groups committing required resources, time or capital.
One particular approach to PM may be that projects don't go ahead until a high percentage of requirements have been committed to, at which threshold point these commitments are then called in; work is done, payments are made and resources are delivered as specified. This approach has been applied in crowd funding, where people can solicit donations to projects, but supporters' commitments to pay are held in escrow by a third party until the funding target is reached. The crowd funding site Kickstarter refers to this as "All-or-nothing" funding.
Notes and references
- Including data on the movement of money, products, people and resources, as well as activities of all organisations and nation-states
- The popular series of simulation games "The Sims" and "Sim City" hint at what such an interface may look like
- Which is effectively a shared knowledge and management system