I was a participant at Crowdshare Sydney Salon last Wednesday, and it was a fantastic full-day event to rethink the relationship between traditional ‘top-down’ organisational structures, and the new possibilities associated with ideas and projects that emerge from the ‘bottom-up’. Crowdshare Sydney is a platform for designers, architects, practitioners and enthusiasts to contribute their time, skills and energy towards creative actions in the beautiful city of Sydney.
The event was hosted by Joanne Jakovich from UTS U.Lab, with discussions by Mimi Zeiger, Tim Horton, Roderick Simpson, Marcus Westbury and Satoru Yamashiro, all addressing the same core question:
…what are the possible models of operation, governance, or interrelation that better merge the potential of bottom-up-open-source-distributed-tactical-informal-crowd phenomena with existing systems?
I took the opportunity to help frame the discourse by referring back to Nobel Prize-winning economist Elinor Ostrom’s argument that institutions can best support ‘bottom-up’ activities by providing an “arena” for collaboration, in which the rules and plans are negotiated by the community.
This represents a critical cultural transformation from the decide-and-deliver mode that typifies most existing hierarchical institutions. Thus it’s important for organisations (and cities) seeking to engage the new ‘bottom-up’ trend to first understand what this means for their business-as-usual operations. In my experience with Collabforge, the most successful projects begin with internal collaborations, that slowly build outwards to broader participation. This gives the organisation time to rethink the way they work, in order to ensure that they provide participants a meaningful opportunity to influence their future.
A great example is Collabforge’s work with Future Melbourne, where the city planning team were involved from the start to the end of the project, collaborating and communicating with the general public.
You can view my presentation slides here.
Event images by Pure and Applied.