Networking Governance

Today's issues—such as climate change—are already complex, yet today's governance is largely based on an outmoded hierarchical model. We require systems of organization for government as a whole that promote earlier detection and response to both opportunity and error; earlier alertness to interactions across substantive boundaries; and the ability to organize and apply long-range foresight as a new and crucial dimension of governance.

Networking is society's best organizational response to complexity. It captures the idea of a flattened form of organizational network, where coherence occurs because of the presence of the following:

—A strategic concept, clearly articulated by senior leadership and understood at all levels

—Information flows that support initiative at lower levels —Feedback at every level to allow continuing interaction and situational awareness within the group

—Something very like complex adaptive behavior toward realization of the goal (mission)

—A culture within the organization such that its members are encouraged to self-organize, rather than await instruction from above11

Networking is a form of social action that is profoundly well suited for democratic governance. Networking depends upon the existence of widely distributed intelligence and initiative. It also depends on the existence of a collaborative ethos, whereby an instinct for teamwork operates as an offset to the natural search for individual advantage. Democracy has always required faith that these qualities would serve social as well as individual needs. It has also always required farsighted investment in the education of individuals for their role as citizens.12

This chapter is not the place for a discussion of how to design the necessary changes in our executive, legislative, regulatory, and political systems.13

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