Organizational governance of tribalised communities

Membership - Weighted vote - Direct democracy - What constitutes a majority - Leadership - Election -Continuity of deputies - Management as a social function
The organisational structure of tribalised communities must encode values such as
a sustainable economy and protection of the environment. It also must meet the demands for personal authenticity and an effective voice in governance. Such an structure must be replicable and applicable whether the organisation is publicly or privately owned, whether voluntary or paid, whether governmental or non-governmental. The processes used within the organisation must elicit a common expectation of how agreement is reached, whether it be for business, social, or political, purposes.
Structures of social governance start with the common denominator of individual membership. Who are the members of the organisation and what is their commitment? A corporation may believe that employees are members of their organisation, but, if the common denominator is the pursuit of personal wealth then it merely supports their individual desires. The common denominator of the members may be political change, social amelioration, or avocational expression. Whatever it is, it has to be identified and the organisation must proclaim it as the rallying point for individuals, or groups.
Free and open communication is the basic building block of an organisation. Communication must establish the organisation's mission. Good communication, an empathetic and descriptive skill only natural to a few, leads to the core of human structures. The stuff of life is mostly composed of the reactions of persons to communications received, and it is vital that communications given and received are clearly understood. Good communication skills are a lifelong study.
To ascertain the basic mission of an organisation the level of trust must be raised. Members must be encouraged to freely communicate ideas without fear of scorn and ridicule. A group should encourage an individual to follow the useful elements of ideas and not dismiss them as `corny'. The spawning of ideas is part of a release that comes from freeing the inner self. This has been called `brainstorming' which leaves the impression of a momentary high level of trust. The basic motivation behind an individual's desire to join a mission has to be freely expressed and understood. It is a call upon the individual to carefully scrutinise feelings of awareness, immediacy, and flexibility - is there a true meeting of minds and hearts?
Organisations have to be seen as the catalyst for individual spontaneity. The free creation of ideas become the blueprints for substance. Ideas, desires, missions, and wellsprings, form the intangible ground from which a society grows. It is essential that organisations receive across the board informed feedback on how closely they meet individual desires from a loyal, involved, membership.
Self management and personal accountability are two techniques through which an organisation becomes responsive to individual stimuli. The individual must know that he or she has an impact on the organisation. The cynicism present in many organisations, where the individual has feelings of powerlessness, must be replaced by continuing two way communication.
A sense of equality between the individual and the organisation is the basis for a dynamic relationship. It is a relationship of power with both trying to maximize benefits. For individuals it is the crucible in which they co-operate on a mission or task. It is where their views have impact on the larger arena of human society. For the organisation there is the pride of being the focal point of many personal inputs and the proclamation of a world view.
The process of reaching agreement on a mission strives for consensus on an emotional, spiritual, and psychological level. This process is not an enquiry into strategy or means. Agreement on a mission is a spectrum ranging from a general agreement to a specific course of action. Consensus can be reached on general statements but as a mission statement becomes more defined the likelihood of consensus decreases. Consensus building is a process that extends the area of general agreement further and further along the spectrum towards specific agreement.
Weighted Vote
Consensus, the agreement of everyone, can be reached on many issues given enough time. However, the amount of time needed to reach consensus is not available in every situation. The fastest decision can be made by a single person. If the group obey that decision, action can be quickly taken. The single person making the decision for everyone is the autocratic situation and the least binding to group cohesion. The consensus decision is the most binding for purpose of group cohesion but the least effective in the face of time constraints. There are also issues such as abortion on which consensus could not be reached in a normal lifetime.
The process by which group decisions are made is dependant on the pressures between the poles of cohesion and time. A general mission statement that builds cohesion can be the result of a consensus decision. A financial policy, based on time constraints, and in an emergency situation, can be a managerial decision by one person.
Most decisions lie between these two poles, and, when matters must be put to a vote, other considerations arise.
When the group is large, the members who have established a greater commitment to the group's overall mission have reason to believe that their voice should carry greater weight. This can be seen in a trade union meeting where members who have been in the union for ten years or more, feel their opinion should be given greater weight.
Experience itself is not the reason that longevity should be given greater responsibility. All too often, longevity is a sign of retreat - the adoption of safe tenure impervious to the vicissitudes of life. Commitment to a mission differs as it is an experience that enlarges knowledge and deserves more weight.
To enhance individual worth, and instil the continuation of a set of ideals, members need to be differentiated in terms of commitment. Jessica Savich, a high priced anchorwoman for a major television network, was sent to cover the Washington beat. Because of her high profile the network dictated that the Washington reporters give her their stories, and promote her as the `face', for their news. Many of them knew much more about the Washington scene than Savich. They resented her lack of knowledge. `Parachuting' a person into an area where an accumulation of skill and knowledge is acquired over many years doomed this scheme. As one reporter said, "It was a stripes issue. And she didn't have any." Eventually Savich had a mental breakdown while giving the news. `Stripes' are important, and votes should reflect that importance.
In many corporations shareholders have a vote for each share they hold. A person with 51% of the shares can decide the fate of the company. That economic commitment is given unquestioned power, while other commitments, no matter how heavy the involvement, are restricted to a single, or no, vote, is ludicrous. Commitment and responsibility are essential elements to a group's stability and should be spread as widely as possible. They should be encouraged and rewarded with increased power in the form of a weighted vote.
How votes should be weighted varies with each organisation. For a trade union perhaps a member of ten years standing should receive an extra vote. In a political organisation there could be one vote for graduation from a high school, another vote for a university degree, another for membership in a professional organisation, and another for heading a social organisation. For a business organisation there could be one vote given after one year’s service, another for investing at least $10,000.00 in company stock, another for reaching a managerial post.
To extend this concept into the political arena is not a major step. In 1859 when the British Parliament was discussing enlarging the right to vote the thought of allowing all men to vote, including the uneducated masses, caused grave concern. Disraeli, the British Prime Minister, advocated an additional vote for university graduates, ministers of religion, lawyers, doctors, certified schoolmasters, civil service pensioners, fundholders, and Post Office Saving Bank depositors of fifty pounds or more. The preference, in Disraeli’s mind, was that the House of Commons be a “mirror of the mind as well as the material interests of England”. Disraeli’s initiative was not supported by his party.
Whatever the basis for awarding extra votes it should be in reference to the common denominator. For example, if the common denominator of a social organisation is good works then votes would be weighted towards those who show a commitment to good works such as volunteering in a hospice. It is the front line workers that should be rewarded.
What constitutes the will of the majority?
The will of the majority has, in the past, been decided in an autocratic manner where the king, the owner of a business, or the C.E.O. of a corporation, decided the action to be taken in the best interests of the majority. The current scheme is representative democracy. This is where politicians, or a board of directors, decide the action taken for the best interests of the majority.
The representative democratic system is a halfway stage, involving more that one person, but still denying, to the majority, the power to decide. It is a diluted form of the authoritarian structure and can no longer be supported. An organisational structure that accurately reflects the will of the majority is where all members are the governing body.
Direct democracy
A direct democracy, or referendum, is where the majority vote taken by members is the decision. The will of the majority is directly ascertained. A direct democratic vote can be carried out in several ways; by gathering the members for a vote, a balloted referendum, or, an electro-magnetic voting card with which members vote electronically.
Whatever means are used, it is the direct test of what the majority wants. Viewed historically it is the natural evolution from the leadership and power struggles of the past. It is an enlargement of the number of people who, for example, decide the affairs of state.
About seven hundred years ago Kings and Queens and their small core of personal advisors ruled, and power lasted while there was a royal family. This meant there was very few people deciding important matters and this small number would be the ruling class for hundreds of years. For the last one hundred years, with the representative democratic system, governments ruled through political parties. Power lasted as long as the political party (usually between 5% and 20% of the voting public) won elections or did not allow an election to be held. This was an enlargement of the number of people who were in the ruling class. The length of time that power was held by a political party ranged from a few months to some eighty years for the Soviet communist party. The final stage is where the group that decides is enlarged to include all those eligible and it exercises its power from situation to situation.
With a referendum as the basis for all major decisions the point of view, or bias, is not restricted to that of a ruling party. It would no longer be the autocratic boss, or the political party, or Royal family, that attempts to mold public opinion for a period of time. Direct democracy is an immediate expression of the membership's opinion - the epitome of the opinion polls, the hard market test.
A public referendum, or membership vote, is a progression that allows those most concerned to have a direct input in the decision making process. It also conforms to the desire for self responsibility; that choice in major decisions be exercised by each person. The present autocratic or representative systems enhancing a `victim' mentality must be changed to imbue a feeling of control over events. The upheavals in Eastern Europe during 1989, seen as a revolt against political decisions thrust willy-nilly on a resentful populace, is a graphic example of the overturning of the `victim' mentality.
Kirkpatrick Sale in his book, HUMAN SCALE, points out that one of the best historical examples of direct democracy was the New England town meeting. He also points out that there are still five cantons in Switzerland that run their affairs through annual cantonal meetings of all citizens.
A direct democracy is a restoration of power to the membership or electorate. At the time of the original democracy, Greece, ultimate power belonged to the people. Athens, the cradle of democracy, did not favour the representative democratic system. They preferred the direct democratic system where all members voted on all major issues. The power of decision making, the power to tax, the power to pay for services, resided with the people who had to pay for the decision, the purchasers of the services.
In Greece, the boule served as the government and the members of the boule were the politicians of that period. The boule was subject to the direct democratic vote of the General Assembly. That is, the entire electorate, as many as ten thousand people, stood up in the square in Athens and raised their right hand to vote on the matters of the day. That was the General Assembly. The body that, in modern terms, had sovereign power. The boule were the messengers of the electorate, not their representatives, as is the situation today.
The Greek farmer, having to travel by foot for some distance, was not always fully represented in the large square, but he did know he had control over how the country was run. We now have the capability of using the best elements of Greek democracy, the direct democratic vote as a General Assembly, by electronic means. The questions of distance that frustrated the farming vote in ancient Athens is no longer a concern with an electro-magnetic voting card.
A direct democratic vote blunts the wiles of personal power seekers. They would occupy a position similar to religious ministers - having the power to persuade but not enforce.
A referendum carried out with magnetic voting cards, similar to credit cards, would first be publicly discussed. The membership would then vote by inserting their voting card in a recording machine. Such a vote could be tabulated by a central computer and completed in a matter of hours. An electronic handset with a keypad called Quick Tally is already in production and can record the direct democratic vote of all those who are in a convention hall. The production of an electronic vote counter does not pose any great problem.
What constitutes a majority
The secondary question of the definition of a majority is one that has not been the subject of great attention.
Neither the consensus, autocratic, or simple majority, definitions are suitable for continual complex human interaction. It is not possible to reach consensus when large numbers of people are involved. Another problem with consensus is that the more people who are involved the slower the process becomes. The autocratic decision is only suitable in a situation of dire emergency. The simple majority idea that a 51% affirmative vote defines a majority is not persuasive to a 49% opposition where large numbers are involved. It is not a clear indication of preference.
The definition of what constitutes a compelling majority involves speculation. If a group of three met at a fork in the road two people (66%) might persuade the third to take their path. If a bigger group of five met at a fork, three people (60%) might persuade the other two. Five people are likely to feel safer on a dangerous path than two. Other combinations of size can be considered such as ten people in a group where 70% would be a clear indication of preference and 60% an acceptable majority. A reasonable speculation of an acceptable majority is a 60% affirmative vote.
A 60% majority vote in a referendum is a decision on policy or action. The next step, the execution of that policy or action, is where, all too often, there is a breakdown or transmutation. It is in this situation where, the leader, the person of action, may try to take control.
Leadership is a spectrum from diffuse to autocratic. There has been a strong tendency in the West to depend on the autocratic leader, the man of the moment, the man who can deliver, the gunslinger. Such a leader can make decisions swiftly and take the necessary actions. However, the cost is a disaffection of membership and finally a disillusionment in the belief that one's voice is heard. It is now clear that real movement only occurs when a group enthusiastically undertakes a particular course of action.
In translating the will of the majority into action a board, or chamber of deputies, should be charged with the responsibility of overseeing that the action desired is taken. This is not a delegation of power as they are limited by the directions given in the majority vote. They are deputised to act for the general assembly and must take the specific action desired.

There is a tendency in the executive branch to be seduced by the apparent power involved. "Well, I have my directions given to me" and "My hands are tied" are well worn phrases. The personally ambitious are quick to realize that the position of deputy, or bureaucratic head, could be a source of power. They would endeavour to be promoted to that position. The workings of a palace cabal can quickly arise.
Another major problem with a body elected through a typical representative system is the pressure exerted by a minority who benefit from some particular legislation or act. In their book, THE TYRANNY OF THE STATUS QUO, Milton and Rose Friedman, describe these beneficiaries as part of the iron triangle composed of those directly affected and those who operate the program. When some small group will benefit from a particular act they will pressure a representative to act in their interests. The representative may know that this is not in the best interests of the majority, but the majority, not being directly interested in this act, do not pressure the representative. The representative then gives in to the special interest group. A superior election system must remove the levers (money, special interest votes, lobbying, etc.) of special interest pressure.
An example of this is the amusing tale of the tea tasting board in the United States. President Carter, during a cost paring program, decided to end this board. It had been in existence for about two hundred years. Its functions were of no use to the public. However, it was a good slot for patronage and a small body of politicians torpedoed the idea.
Venetians were aware of these problems. Knowing that trade demanded a stable political power, they legislated in 1297 that the male head of some twelve hundred principal families be the only ones eligible to serve in government. It was from that pool that the executive was chosen by lottery. The use of a lottery forestalled the accumulation of power in one family. With a lottery decision the personally ambitious are unable to gain power in the executive.
A superior electoral system has the following qualities:-
a) A process that is not dependant on the candidates looks or pocketbook.
b) Deputies who are not dependant on factions or political patronage.
c) A board composed of persons who have a high degree of intelligence.
d) A low cost and an high degree of effectiveness.
e) A body that is immune to pressure to produce expedient results pleasing to a particular segment.
f) A body that has continuity and can pursue worthwhile endeavors over a long period.
To have a governing body composed of people who are not elected on the basis of their good looks, their pocketbooks, their political patronage or connections, requires an entirely different electoral process. Such a process, as John Burnheim has already suggested, is election by lottery. There has also been a committee proposal on the 1990 California ballot that 500 citizens of California be chosen by lottery to represent the people of California as the Legislative Assembly. The proposal was defeated but the idea was, at least, put forward and discussed.
All elections have some element of chance. To move to an election completely by chance is not a revolutionary step. In addition, there is an increasing perception that spiritual forces act upon each person irrespective of will. To allow chance to become paramount in an election is an acknowledgement that control cannot always be exercised. John Glenn who ran for President of the U.S. in 1984 could be said to have been chosen by fate to be an astronaut. It was then an element of chance that being an astronaut made him a public figure. It was an element of chance, and timing, that allowed him to run for public office.
J.A.O. Larsen described the situation in the Athenian government in, REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT IN GREEK AND ROMAN HISTORY:
During the fifth century B.C. the Athenian council or boule consisted of five hundred members chosen by lot, fifty members from each of the ten tribes, to serve for one year. The ten tribes mentioned were artificial subdivisions of the citizen body as recognised by Cleisthenes in 508 B.C. They have been called tribes because "tribe" is the standard translation of the Greek name phyle, and because they maintained the fiction of kinship in the worship by each of a hero or mythical ancestor. The tribes obviously were intended to be approximately equal in population, but naturally could not be and were not exactly equal. The tribal contingents in the council took turns, in an order determined each year by lot, to serve as the prytaneis, a presiding committee both of the council and, whenever the assembly met, of the latter body also. The collective name for the committee and for the period for which it served is pyrtany. ...
Thus the first step in securing representation in the council approximately in proportion to population was taken when each tribe was given fifty members;1
An election by lottery at one stroke negates patronage and political manipulation. Such a process is obviously of very low cost and would produce deputies who would not be under any pressure to produce expedient results for certain segments of the public.
The use of a lottery also has its roots in the common law jury system where a jury panel is taken from the election rolls by chance. Lawyers then select the jury making it somewhat similar to the Venetian system. There is a chance selection in the jury system which then might decide on a persons death. If chance is acceptable to decide matters of death then it surely must be acceptable to decide matters of business or public concern.
Election by lottery was common in the Italian city states of the later Middle Ages. Florence, for instance placed the names of qualified citizens in an urn and drew them out blindly. This practice has been described by Frederic C. Lane in, VENICE, A MARITIME REPUBLIC, as introducing an element of chance to prevent a few men from obtaining the power that went with office holding. Another advantage is stopping the rivalries, hatreds, and factionalism, of election campaigns.
Selection by lottery should be used in conjunction with a weighted vote. This would provide protection against incompetents by requiring that candidates for the board possess, for example, three votes, one for membership, one for professional achievement, and one for demonstrated commitment. This should achieve a reasonably high intelligence and commitment in the deputised body. Although such a cutoff is arbitrary it would provide a sufficiently large pool of persons that they would be a representative sample of the electorate.
In a large organisation persons within the three vote pool, who wish to declare their candidacy, would require an endorsement from say, five members, stating that the candidate is honest, capable, conscientious, and capable of performing the tasks. Those who endorse the candidate would be under an obligation to justify their endorsement before a council of their peers if necessary. Upon filing nomination papers an electronically operated lottery would select the deputies.
The use of a restricted and biased selection system also a reflects the desire to control one's destiny. As individual consumers we employ our education and knowledge to make intelligent choices. A selection system, restricted and biased towards an educated and knowledgeable choice, is the individual choice on a random large scale.
The restricted membership, used by Venice, was considered to be the most successful form of government organisation in the Middle Ages. Although its rise to power commenced in the twelfth century it was not until 1297 that the Venetians clarified the organisational structure that they kept until 1797. It created an establishment that was deeply committed to the preservation of the city. In the early 16th century the population of Venice was about 140,000. Out of this population only 2,500 patricians had power, but this was a sufficient pool to breed in them a vested interest in public duty. The state not only guaranteed their status as patricians but tried to support their livelihood. This was a deliberate attempt to produce a loyalty, and a suppression of personal interest, in the service of the state. Venice promoted a common fostering of economic interests even though, at the end, some patricians were the poorer citizens.
In contrast, Florence, a city state of similar power in the 1300's, quickly lost that power due to the constant fractious disagreement between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines.
In Venice, the rest of the population may have resented the patricians but they had other outlets for their ambitions such as trade, the civil service, and the authority to run religious and charitable institutions. In addition non-patrician men saw that the stability engendered by this restriction of voting rights produced a business community that was the envy of other states.
For tribalised communities the creation of a restricted pool of members, eligible on a meritocratic basis (such as a minimal number of years of service, education and level of attainment), chosen by lot, is a protection from entrenched interests. It an acceptable spreading of power throughout the organisation. The next consideration is the fostering of that power over a considerable period of time.
Continuity of deputies
To ensure continuity of purpose, deputies should be elected for overlapping periods of seven years. This is a long enough period for a person to direct their energies to a worth while project and achieve results and yet not too long that ennui becomes a problem. New members, elected every year, would provide a continual infusion of new blood. For a ten person board, two persons would be elected on the first year, two in the next and third year, then one for the remaining four years and the process would start over again. For a one hundred seat board would be fifteen members elected in the first year from one seventh of the population. The following year fifteen more members would be elected from another district containing one seventh of the population, and then fourteen members for each of the next five years.
Deputies, as overseers of the management, are in much the same position as directors in Japanese companies, they ‘relate’.
Peter F. Drucker has described this structure in MANAGING FOR TURBULENT TIMES. It is a structural organization where the executive takes care of the outside relationships – with government, the bank, the industry group, and so on. Their concern is personnel and succession – ensuring the right people fit the job. They do not manage the business. It is the professional managerial staff who run the business.

Management as a Social Function
The executive board has to ensure the management of the organization acts in concert with the organizational philosophy. The concern of the deputies is people, not product.
Managementg, within a tribalized community framework, must adopt the ‘quarterback’ style to motivate and inspire. Members, involved in decision making, who have a psychic investment in a mission, are already motivated towards what they think must be done. Management should try to assist with methods of greater efficiency but not command that a certain course of action be followed. The forging of agreement on a course of action, and instilling a sense of cooperation in the carrying out of that course of action, is the sign of good management.
Management has now become a social function, with the manager one of the tribal leaders. Peter Drucker referred to this in THE NEW REALITIES|
After World War Two we began to see that management is not business management. It pertains to every human effort that brings together in one organization people of diverse knowledge and skills. It needs to be applied to all third sector institutions, such as hospitals, universitiess, churches, art organizations, and social service agencies, which since World War Two have grown faster in the United States than either business or government. For even though the need to manage volunteers or raise funds may differentiate non-profit management from their for-profit peers, many of their responsibilities are the same – among them defining the right strategy and goals, developing people, measuring performance, and marketing the organization’s services. Management worldwide has become the new social function. 2.
Robert B. Reich in THE NEXT AMERICAN FRONTIER enlarged this observation by stating that;
In a real sense, the work community is replacing the geographic community as the most tangible American social setting. 3.
Organizational management in Japan provides an interesting example of management as a social function.
The corporate structure in Japan shows considerable difference in the power of the Japanese branch managers as compared to American branch managers. It is surprising, at first glance, that Japan, supposedly a more authoritarian nation, allows more power to be held at the intermediate corporate level, the branch managers. However, when the attitude of the Japanese worker is considered the reasons become clearer.
In the U.S. when a difficult problem arrives at the desk of a branch manager two conflicting attitudes must be considered. The branch manager wants to solve the problem and he or she also wants executives at the higher level to notice that he solved the problem so he or she can rise swiftly up the corporate ladder. The branch manager also wants to be covered in the event of failure and possible demotion. The usual answer is to make a strong recommendation to the higher executive that he wishes to impress. If the branch manager received approval and the recommendation is successful he wins on both counts. If it is unsuccessful he can say, “I cleared it with X”.
In Japan, when a difficult problem arrives on the desk of a branch manager it must be solved within the branch. To take the challenge to a higher executive is an indication he is not capable of solving the problem, a loss of face if you like, and that must not happen. The Japanese branch manager is also not concerned about rising swiftly up the corporate ladder because he knows that depends on seniority. Another factor is this is not an individual problem – it is shared and the staff go to extraordinary lengths to be sure he will not be embarrassed. A failure by the branch is an embarrassment suffered by all and in Japanese human relationships one does not one-up a fellow employee. The sense of belonging ensures that, as much as possible, everyone has an investment in any decision made by the branch.
Essentially, the Japanese structure has three levels; a governing and directing level, a management level, and an operational and production level. This structure in not unusual. What is unusual is the extent of group cohesiveness. There is a sense of belonging engendered in the Japanese worker that far exceeds the loyalty of most American workers.
The ‘managing’ of a business that promotes a feeling of cohesiveness, involvement, and responsibility, in the employees is one of the key factors in a successful organization. The sense of belonging in Japanese workers is part cultural, part ethical, and part instilled motivation. It has been an extremely successful combination of factors. This combination of socio-economic factors has been reproduced in some American corporations. It is a form of tribal loyalty and involvement, and tied to a sense of control and direction, produces a sense of personal history in the making.
The diffusion of knowledge and expertise has meant that some specialities are only vaguely understood by management. This is a situation where management can only assume employees are doing what needs to be done. Such sections, cannot be ‘managed’ – management then becomes a social process where the social norms promoted by management create a social fabric moving the organization in a particular direction.

1. Pp. 5,6. Representative government in Green and Roman History by J.A.O. Larsen. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.
2. P. 226. The New Realities, by Peter Drucker. Harper and Rowe, New York., 1989.
3. The next American Frontier by Robert B. Reich, Times Books, N.Y., N.Y.. P. 251.