Collaboration, collective creation & getting things done

With their un-organised approach to management and decision making Quakers are the poster children for collaboration, collective creation and getting things done.

Quakers do not have a formal hierarchy and have no single person in control of their society. It is an approach to getting things done that aligns to the spirit of modern BarCamps and other un-organised collective activities popularised in the web 2.0 & open source communities.

One of the most interesting, & almost forgotten, pieces of history is the importance of Quaker businesses in the development of Anglo-Capitalism in the 18th and 19th centuries. These businesses became some of the most successful capitalist enterprises of their time, yet they were based on their own particular brand of Christian principles.

An important part of this is the idea of working together to reach consensus and working cooperatively. And some of the principles that guided their action include:

  • simplicity
  • egalitarianism
  • integrity

Thinking about some of the business practices that have led to the global financial crisis, perhaps it is time for business leaders to reconsider a return to the kinds of principles that made many companies great in the past?

BarCamps and other collaborative efforts, like open source software, show how collective action by individuals directed towards a common goal can be a highly effective way of getting things done.

Author: Kate Carruthers

Kate Carruthers is Chief Data & Insights Officer for UNSW Sydney, and is also an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the School of Computer Science & Engineering. She is certified in information security and is currently undertaking postgraduate studies terrorism and security. Kate has extensive experience in senior roles in ICT, marketing, data and digital; and is a member of the NSW Government’s Data Analytics Centre Advisory Board. Kate is currently working at the intersection of data analytics, AI, ML, privacy, cyber security, and data protection.

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