Do structure, planning and punctuality inhibit collective creativity? As anti-romantics, we don’t think so.
As founders of this organization, we have 36 combined years of experience working in the field of education. Our fields of expertise include college instruction as well as career and academic counseling at the university level. Having also worked in middle management in the private sector, we have first-hand experience in the belly of the beast.
We have professional skills in facilitating meetings, managing time and space and writing and speaking in a down-to-earth way which avoids jargon. We think we have a realistic outlook on the strengths and weaknesses of people as a whole, and we are optimistic that in crisis situations like those we are in now, many people can be counted on to be altruistic and heroic beyond what most of us can imagine. Social-psychological research supports this.
Unlike many of the people in Occupy, we are not anarchists. We don’t believe the heat of a revolution will transform people into revolutionaries who spontaneously know how to build the new world. We think that a breakdown of institutions, whether capitalism or the state, will create anxiety in people, not creativity. This is why we need structure. Structure and planning are the midwives of collective creativity.
Because of our mainstream background in university teaching and academic advising as well as in industrial middle management, we believe that in order to outsmart capitalists we must have a foundation in basic speaking, organizational and group dynamic skills. We think that people running meetings need to have basic rhetorical skills, to know how to set limits and anticipate next steps. They need to be skilled in facilitating scheduled meetings. These meetings work best when they have prioritized agendas, start on time, end on time, respect the time of others and recognize that most everyone has to work hard just to stay even. Any group that has the audacity to propose building a new world while not being able to operate with the skills expected to live in this world lacks credibility.
For us, the alternative to rigid, vertical structures, which ignore group input and feedback, is not simply to have flat organizations that have ambiguous structures.
We think that the utilization of hierarchies, which are flexible, open to group feedback and sometimes consist of rotating members, is the only way serious work can get done. Having a clearly articulated vision along with a step-by-step procedure of what worker self-management looks like is the only hope against a decaying economic system.
In addition, we need a transition plan as to how to get there. This is the best, practical way people will be attracted to what we have to say and do and why they will remain and build a movement with us. If we cannot answer a simple working class question about what we would build in the place of capitalism and how we would get there, we will never draw anyone who is down-to-earth, practical and skeptical.
We want to do this in a systemic, methodical and imaginative way that brings and expands respect, love, joy and hope while accepting unflinchingly that those in power will do anything to keep their power. We are equally resolute in taking their power from them by any means necessary.