Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2013 HaiPhong, Vietnam, 2013

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Convergence as a medium scale acephalous group

Victor Ronald David MacGill

Abstract


We face increasingly complex issues today, many of which may be critical to our survival. If we are to survive, thrive, and find new ways of being, we need to be experimenting with innovative ways of organising ourselves to increase our adaptability and resilience.

Top-down hierarchical organisations have become the norm to the point where we rarely consider alternative ways of organising ourselves even though they divide people against each other and impose power differentials. As we gain an insight into the coercive nature of our organisations we begin to seek alternatives that might be more wholesome and humane.

A group in the South Island of New Zealand called Convergence is exploring alternatives that have much in common with systems principles. It is an acephalous group, in that it has no structured leadership, and yet over three hundred people have been able to gather together as a co-creative alternative community for five days every year for almost thirty years.  Avoiding the divisive distinction between management and worker, Convergence has developed a distributed, transient, self-selected leadership style so the group acts more like a forest or a brain without central control that has proved to be robust. This paper explores the organisation of Convergence from a systems perspective to find its strengths and weaknesses, and its applicability to other groups.


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