Talk:Platform roadmap

From Organic Design wiki

Main article content moved into here Apr 2010

These notes are regarding a concept that is a work in-progress and are to help guide the development of such an organisation on the Organic Design Wiki. A functioning platform would be an example of an "Open Organisation". The question of how to set up a platform arises for people on the path when they want to surround themselves with others that are on the path to decrease their stress and increase their opportunities and companionship. What form can the living and or working arrangements take to ensure a smooth and harmonious interchange? This is no trivial question, experience has shown us that when communities or teams of any size fail to address it properly, stress, alienation and financial mismanagement are all too common.

For people on the path, the next scale for organisation up from personal organisation is the Platform. Historically this unit has been provided by the family, in modern times this could be looked at more like a team of like-minded people living and/or working together. The platform is a form of collaboration that includes elements of teamwork, flatting and self-employment, but what sets it apart from the contexts mentioned is that is that it is based on people coming together with clearly shared values using decentralised forms of organisation to get things done. It is also different in that it features a strong emphasis on life and work integration, the idea is that people with various interests and abilities come together so that each of them might do what they are most interested in, supported by the other group members. This can work if there is a clear shared awareness of roles and members are selected based on filling gaps in the teams spectrum of abilities.

The idea is that by having organisation in place, many things that can be quite the chore to do or expensive to access for individuals, such as a car or ensuring there is always fresh and healthy food on the table, can be provided by the larger group, thus allowing the individuals to focus more fully on whatever they are good at and enjoy doing. Furthermore, by having a group of well-organised people that are able to work together over time many opportunities may be developed and brought to fruition, allowing the group as a whole to act as a freelance service provider, meaning opportunity and cash-flow is created "in-house", in accord with the values of the group, thus allowing the members to overcome the challenge of "right livelihood".

Of course this way of working is flexible and could be adapted by flats, companies, families or mixtures of these kinds of groupings to add as many or few of these elements as desired.

A Common Organisational System

The idea is that platforms are adaptable and can undergo change or be set up according to specific regional needs, so many diverse kinds of platform can emerge. What makes them all platforms is that they all form a unified network together and use it to share and re-use knowledge. The foundation of this system is the ability to keep all platforms connected and up to date with the current state of the system, and to allow them to help refine that state through communications and other feedback.

We have some ideas about an ideal network architecture built in accord with the spiritual principles from the ground up which is under development called nodal reduction, but this ideal system can't be developed alone and requires the existence of a platform network to support its continued development. So we need to use existing technologies to achieve our initial collaborative effort.

Current Implementation

Although we don't have a physical premises from which we run our operations, we do technically have a functioning platform because we already have a re-usable set of procedures in place allowing users to set up the same systems that we have in place which will stay up to date as we continue to develop and refine them. The re-usable platform knowledge is maintained using the MediaWiki software which was designed for the people to maintain and collaborate on their own knowledge in the form of the Wikipedia project. Our system then uses the packaging tools that come with Ubuntu to keep all the platforms connecting and up to date with the current state of the system, see packages for specific details about our packages, and wiki organisation for details about our plans for higher level organisation within the wiki environment.


In this section we will define the objectives we want to achieve with platforms. A significant part of our motivation to do this work stems from imagining the possibilities that are opened up from moving closer to these objectives. Some of them are emphasized here due to their relevance to the requirements of current times. These challenges include an increasing speed of change, growing political and economic uncertainty, and the need to implement solutions to a number of problems at great speed and on a massive scale. With all of this we cannot rely on the centralised, hierarchical organisations to come through with solutions. Instead, we need independent efforts at mass-collaboration to help us achieve a better future than the one in store for us if, as a global society, we fail to change quickly enough. Some of the objectives listed here may be stepping stones toward that good future.

The Learning Organisation

We refer here to the learning organisation as defined by Senge. Such an organisation continually expands its capacity to create its own future. Employees at such an organisation are there because they can share a larger vision with the others and in being a part of the organisation are following their own path to self-realisation. Being a member of a learning organisations means understanding ones own part in relation to the whole operation and working with the others to extend the definition of such an organisation. The employees therefore do not show up merely because they have "a job", the work encompasses personal mastery as well as team learning (two of the five disciplines Senge describes) and is embedded in systems thinking, the employees understanding their organisation as a system and refining it together through feedback and dialogue.

While Senge has been hailed as a leading thinker in management circles, we have not seen an uptake of his ideas on a large scale yet. If his ideas are so worthwhile and could address serious societal issues such as the increasing levels of alienation in workplaces, work-life balance and the sense of contributing to something meaningful, surely they should be applied swiftly within multinational corporations and governments? We hope that part of the solution to this lies in making available the tools required for people to easily form learning organisations.[1]

How do the criteria relate to the "building blocks" of the learning organisation, the five disciplines?
  • Systems thinking - this is implied since from the beginning we form the ontology as a system evolving through feedback and the communications amongst stakeholders is also system-related from the start.
  • Personal mastery - Personal mastery refers to the ability of someone to develop and hold a clear vision for their life while striving for a clear and objective view of the current situation. If someone can be honest while holding a vision, "creative tension" arises, which provides the driving force for self-improvement. A learning organisation must comprise members on a journey of personal growth ("being on the path"), for this is the foundation of other vital disciplines of the learning organisation, such as shared vision, where creative tension is created at the level of a whole organisation. To support this, tools for self organisation need to be provided by the organisation, as well as a number of educational programs from various disciplines and spiritual/philosophical leaders.[2] Personal mastery relates to the value of self-improvement and the criterion of "All Aspects Changeable" on a personal level. It encompasses a development of a clear personal vision, a commitment to the truth and the holding of creative tension between what is and what could be for the stakeholders. From this it can be seen how much of an overlap exists between the shared vision within the organisation and the personal vision of any given stakeholder.
  • Mental Models - This discipline points to the need to provide tools to uncover the mental models of stakeholders, to model, discuss and change them. From this a culture of decision-making arises, which is grounded on shared understanding. Within systems modelling software, aggregate data is used for analysis and simulation within organisations, possible interfaces for this would be related to TGAL and the Geoscope.
  • Shared vision - TGAL implies shared vision so if an organisation can fulfil the TGAL criterion, shared vision is a given. Software interface can show how shared vision relates to the role of the individual, development requirement for productivity apps. Openness and completeness are also important criteria for establishing true shared vision.
  • Team learning - Team learning refers to the ability of stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue, to remain objective and able to discuss each others' strengths and weaknesses (this benefits from an application of personal mastery, of course) and balance advocacy with enquiry. A "collaborative" organisation provides tools for dialogue which support team learning, a wiki is very good for this aspect, it is a medium that just about enforces team learning. An organisation interested in team learning will therefore foster an organisational culture of dialogue and develop effective dialogue procedures for "face to face" processes such as meetings. With our approach, such procedures and techniques will be included with any organisational templates we develop.

The Seed, Self-containment

Completeness gives rise to self containment, because it means that every aspect of itself is part of the description. Combined with the concept of openness (in the sense of making it as widely accessible as possible) allows this description to act as a seed which can grow in diverse environments. It can grow because all aspects required to create the same kind of organisation are made available in an active reproducible way.

Independence & Resilience

We must accept that we currently depend on corporations and the financial agenda to some extent because the bottom-up systems cannot currently manufacture hardware and other necessities. But we must bear in mind that we need to strive for ever more independence and use open-source community developed solutions where ever practical.

Applying this principle successfully leads to decentralisation. We believe that people should have as much local autonomy as they need in order to make decisions and live their lives. We would like to practise localness on Organic Design by working with people who are providing localised solutions and creating tools to allow individuals and organisations move from dependence to independence to interdependence. There are many forms this striving can take: In the creation of software tools we aim to give people the ability to change the tools in any way they wish without needing to be specialists, and without needing anyone's consent. In doing work for clients, this means giving the client all the information and settings they need to solve their own problems or choosing other contractors if necessary.

Another aspect of independence is network connectivity. Many remote groups do not have readily available Internet access and many more people will be in this position if some of the larger problems get worse, such as the credit crisis, peak oil or the environment. The network of re-usable knowledge and organisation needs to be able to operate with minimal technology if necessary and this means a strong lean towards established convention rather than heavy reliance on high-level applicational features.

Applying this principle successfully leads to organisational strength and adaptability. We live in times of uncertainty and change, therefore we follow the principle of resilience, which allows us to adapt to circumstances, so that we are not devastated by rapid or intense change such as natural catastrophes or war. We know that over a long time and geographic span all kinds of events can happen. Rather than hoping it will always strike somewhere else, we can prepare for it and maintain agility. The Resilience Alliance puts it like this: "We define resilience, formally, as the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure and feedbacks - and therefore the same identity." Source:

We practise resilience here on Organic Design by making sure data is backed up and regularly in a distributed way and that any IT infrastructure we set up comes with procedures for disaster recovery.

Reuse & Utilisation

An often-overlooked obstacle to achieving sustainability is the need to "reinvent the wheel" throughout our society. If we could effectively reuse our collective creativity and extend each other's ideas we could as a whole get by with much less work and drudgery. An example of this would be to create a best-practice procedure for a client and then to add it to a shared repository of best-practice procedures. There are often technical and language barriers to this form of reuse, meaning that we have to keep re-inventing solutions other people have already perfected somewhere. However, the main obstacle to reuse is legal and commercial in nature, specifically it is the intellectual property concept. We don't believe that information should cost money whether its binary or conceptual. Only the things which have a direct correspondence to resource should cost money such as man-hours, processing or storage.

While proper reuse allows us to free up an abundance of time, utilisation is the key to freeing up vast material abundance for the people of the Earth. If we could properly manage and share our resources we could all be wealthy and live in a sustainable society. Think about the fact that in any so-called developed country even people in the same house or block are unable to share household tools or vehicles, requiring everyone to own everything, even the things they only need ever so rarely. Can we afford to apply this kind of wasteful behaviour to the entire planet?

Global Organisational Concepts

These are ideas for an integrated business management system which platforms may use to manage their own activities as well as coordinating with other platforms. We require a portal to the platform-based organisation, where everything runs together and which is used to run the organisation. The true test of the effectiveness of this interface will be whether someone (or a team) with no prior context but experience in dealing with the system could run the organisation using it.


The "blue" aspect (goals/knowledge/global) contains information about the platform, relevant research, values statements and links to related organisations as well as the overall goals of the platform network. There is is a definition of the organisational structure the local organisation would like to move toward, this is expressed in terms of products and services as well as roles and resources.


In the red section we find the timeline of the local organisation, which gives access to the schedule as well as past and future activities and events within it. Here we find the necessary filters and reports to give us a good understanding of what is happening with the organisation in terms of time. News and updates will also be available through the red section. Currently timeline views are fragmented into email inboxes, wiki-recentchanges, spreadsheets and scheduling applications. These are unified in the red section, which is also where the creation process happens. This is handled through the process of nodal reduction at the nodal root and consists of roles completing tasks at the level of organisations.


In "green" we have access to the local aspects of the organisation and can see its current state in terms of roles and resources. This allows for the management of local infrastructure and other resources. Proper accounting and a complete organisational description allow us to see the current state accurately (sight/awareness) and take this into account when moving toward the goals defined in "blue". For an existing organisation wishing to implement the platform template in order to gain a unified organisational interface, the green interface section is filled in via the process of "Borgification". This is a service performed by a Consultant, assisted by an Operator who can aid the process from any Platform via a control uplink established from within the organisation about to be borgified.

Media channels

Platforms and sanctuaries both exhibit an educational aspect as part of their system design. This is accessed as channels of information and media such as documentaries or platform news/newsletters. These channels ensure that all members have a good shared context and are all up to speed with their plans and current state of affairs. The project's channels will include many documentaries about the state of the world and the conceptual nature of how these ways have come to dominate as well as about the many groups which are successfully making a positive difference and their common patterns of success.

The Project

The big-picture project of which the Yi is an instance of an attempted solution, ie supplying tools to the common people allowing them to grow organisation in accord with the fundamental patterns. Organic Design is an organisation that is set up like a "branch office" to carry out work on behalf of the project in the region covered by its nodes.


  • Writers - general and specific (Jack is currently making an attempt at describing the nodal-core in non-technical language)
  • Programmers - there are strict conditions on this which have made it impractical to try to integrate other programmers so far. There are many threads of development that could be assigned to different kinds of IT-specialists, but the problem is that the organisation is not of a scale to support this properly. We have not found any financial support solutions that could abide by the projects principles and work sustainably so far. It's not as bleak and stagnant as it sounds though! since what we're developing is a distributed development environment, it means that development can help itself more as it progresses.
  • Administration, The role that's needed to hold all the other work together is administration, which would include the management and maintenance of content, contacts (responsive communications), routing of information to roles (eg. driver updates to the IT role). This role is also has crossover with the general-writer role. Milan is working "In the field" on setting up a sustainable situation supporting this project-role.

See also

Related work


  • Why IT Support currently sucks and takes time. As opposed to setting up a streamlined process and workspaces.
  • Accounts - fragmented, hard to set up, how would you manage multiple branches, records maintentance. Or easy to set up from templates with guidance, plus unification.
  • Organisation - todo lists are hard to keep track of, confusion over roles, accounts, compare that to having a unified inbox, which combines the functionality of email, recentchanges, and spreadsheet
i would differntiate between "ToDo" and "Schedule" the same way that Covey does: "TODO's" relate to and move you towards your main goals in your roles. "Schedule" is appointments, etc. Maybe we don't confine this globally (ok, of course we don't) but this is how i will use it. I will also make it so my TODO is only visable for a portion of the day, the portion of the day when i am scheduled to do my TODO. --Phalseid 06:48, 12 Jul 2006 (NZST)


  • Google comparison "Search, don't file" vs. Filters that are refined over time - workspaces.
  • Information Organisation - things are placed and displayed in context.
  • Analogy - books thrown on floor with sophisticated robots to sift through pile vs. "the library way"
  • Infinite growth vs. the sustainable way. The platforms have no interest in eternal growth. they seek to simply reflect the needs of the community and act to meet those needs via the provision of products, services and organisation itself.


  • Google have got their technology parks, they realise that a nice campus environment where all needs of the employees can be met will lead to happy productive and creative employees. we want to create a technology park template which will form a network of all the instances in use. We refer to this as "Sanctuary". We extend the platform notion slightly to integrate management of the natural environment and food production.
  • Gardens
  • Compost
  • Permaculture

Flower comments from summary

some q's and thoughts while writing a summary

  • what are the major elements of a platform?
  • why have a complete system?
  • what is a complete system?
  • holistic organisational systems -- whats that???
  • awareness
  • effective and efficient
  • working model/coop model
  • used to support things, give them stability, or visibility:

Whiteboard notes moved from main

Platform-milestone1,2.jpg Platform-milestone3.jpg

  • Regarding whiteboard notes - merge with technical section targets and specs, then subdivide into projects as shown with brief-per section write-up and links to an actual wiki org project hosted here on organic design.--Milan 03:10, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

John comments

General Comments

My comments are preliminary because I don't yet fully understand OD intentions.

The document intro comes across as a formative inward-looking discussion paper

More specific comments

  1. There is no reference to 'platform' in the Manifesto (although I guess that will follow).
  2. Nor does it appear in 'Related Concepts' - where one would expect it to be? (Otherwise the Manifesto looks be be in good shape - Some comments on 'Collaborative Ontology' to follow)
  3. 'Platform' DOES appear in the Glossary (along with 'Platform Network', which has the same content as the 'platform entry'!)
    1. A glossary entry should be restricted to definitions to clarify intended meanings. It should be restricted to not more than several sentences. It could have links to expanded definitions or articles in say 'related concepts'
  4. Much of the material contained in the 'platform' article appears to be repeating stuff thats already appeared in the manifesto and elsewhere. Its bogging it down. I feel it needs to be more explanatory with a more everyday narrative to introduce the technical expositions and procedures. To fully grasp the notion of 'platform network', I need to know what it is, what it's for and how it relates to the notion of 'organic design' and to my organisation along with all the others. I need to know of its pertinence. I think the introductory sentences and thesis may be best written to match the content of the article rather than vice-versa.
  5. In regards to pertinence:(relevance by virtue of being applicable to the collective concerns of community scale organisations (CSOs) or Environment and Conservation Organisations [ECOs] such as Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, Ecologic or E.D.S. etc.) I feel that there needs to be more market research (community funding?) to establish just who exactly are all these CSOs and ECOs, what is the gamut of their shared goals and visions for overcoming their collective unfulfilled aspirations or whatever. At the moment this information seems to be conjectural - inference or judgment based on inconclusive or incomplete evidence and guesswork.

Tasks for Milestone 1

Tasks include

Note.svg Note: These tasks are to be merged and associated with live projects listed below
  • Change over to GUID naming
  • RecordAdmin-1.0 stable trim version
  • Sort out task record
  • Sort out project record
  • Complete syncing (including Special:PackageAdmin "pull" method)
  • Move RA dev and selected content to OD
  • Merge OD and private content
  • Document RA – user guide
  • Document RA - specification

Personal Ontology

  • Hopefully one day we will be comfortable just assuming that an organisation is of the learning kind; so that we will just say organisation" when we mean "learning organisation".
  • Examples for such tools would be the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" developed by Steven Covey, or David Allen's "Getting Things Done" a.k.a "GTD" methodology. The challenge is to seamlessly integrate these methodologies with productivity software such as "groupware" (email, tasks, scheduling, etc.) and project management software used by organisations.