in october I started a new job in an organization that swore it was not top-down. and it is true in a way - everyone can speak up and be a decision maker. but it's becoming obvious that you can't kill the boss by shouting, "no one's in charge." in the past, i tried to make sense of all the papers and pamphlets that explain how to share power, but i've never really understood some of the groundrules until now. so, here's my recipe for running organizations with no kings.

1) everyone has to agree that the organization is not run in a top-down way and they have to agree to stay aware of process and dynamics - forever.
2) everyone has to understand that in exchange for freedom thay will have to make special effort to keep the group working smoothly together. this can be very personal and sometimes very painful.
3) when no one's in charge, there is no one person to blame and no member of the group should have to take full responsibility for everything that goes wrong.
4) when you have freedom to speak and act that means that you have to take responsibility for your own path. If you're sad or mad you have the power to change things.
5) the group and each member must pay attention to power relationships. if things are out of balance it should be discussed and changed. you can't get mad at somebody for being in charge if you aren't willing to share control and responsibility.
6) there has to be a high level of trust among group members; trust in each other and trust in the things that they're doing.
7) there must be a super human effort to make sure that everyone--that wants it--has access to the same information. you can't get mad about not having control of the finances if you can look at the budget and be part of the budget planning.
8) systems will set you free.

my current experience is showing me that if a group doesn't pay attention to how they're doing what they're doing, they end up with hurt feelings; and they risk the success of the project they all value.


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