Embassy do-ocracy: empowering action

1. communication

Once you have identified an issue and your proposed solution, the first step to the do-ocracy is clear communication. Outline the issue, your proposed solution and the timeframe, costs and consequences of taking this action, and share this with the group. 


In communicating, invite feedback from the group, and participation from those that might want to be involved. This stage is crucial in avoiding the tyranny of the do-er! Make a the time and framework clear for those that want to be involved. For example, ‘if anyone wants to help or be involved, let’s meet at x time and place!’. Then ensure that you actually meet or chat with people, accept their help, listen to their opinions. 

3. doing

Do it. Get the job done, finish it and leave no trace. Leave no negative externalities: finish what you start. Leaving things unfinished increases the chance of negative feedback, do-ocratic reversal (see cons section below), and peoples’ willingness to entertain future proposals. 




The upsides!

  • Incentivizes action rather than inaction: it’s vital to provide positive feedback of good deeds as well as constructive negative feedback of actions taken. 
  • Communicating and enrolling people increases their likelihood of celebrating you!
  • Serves to incentivize action in some circumstances in a way that democracy wouldn't

  • Reduces the time and administrative load (bureaucracy) needed to make decisions and take action
  • Doesn't force involvement from those that are unable or unwilling, and therefore provides flexibility in the extent to which one has to be involved. This is important for communities where people are often extremely busy or where the extent of individual involvement fluctuates. 

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Potential issues!

  • Do-ocracy without communication becomes "Tyranny of the proactive" 
  • Inequality in the doing - feeling like you are doing all the work
  • Thrashing - when two people are do-ocratically doing and undoing each others’ idea. 
  • Getting belated feedback - sometimes a proposal is met with a complete absence of feedback when feedback is needed. Sometimes feedback from the group comes so late that you have already invested lots of time that that can be frustrating!
  • Remaining driven to ‘do’ in the face of negative (sometimes warranted!) feedback.
  • Active ‘do-ers’ risk greater and more frequent criticism than those who are more passive.
  • The curse of the Filibuster! How do we deal with people who don’t take action or help, but do tend to create hurdles to ‘doing’ or prevent projects by moving forward.   
  • Active do-ers can end up receiving a disproportionate level of criticism 

Ways to address/potential solutions

  • Provide clear communication of what you need from people to facilitate getting help from others (people often want to help but don’t know what to do)
  • Removing barriers to helping - e.g. providing lists of jobs/projects to contribute to should they want to
  • Set a timeframe during which feedback is welcome and a specific time when the action will be taken in the absence of feedback e.g. ‘I’m going to out this thing in place in a week, please let me know if you have thoughts. If I hear nothing back I will do-ocratise it!’
  • Find ways of acknowledging the inevitable imbalance in the do-ocracy. We found that just increasing awareness of the different roles and actions people were taking made a huge difference. 
  • Ask people with strong opinions to be involved?