Organization of Work

In the Lab, each virtual world civilization model can have a different set of arrangements through which work is initiated, organized, and motivated.

In the Isonomea model, work happens through the arrangements of its Pools of Teams system.

The Pools of Teams system is intended to be a full "can render obsolete" alternative to systems that organize work by establishing hierarchies that concentrate Power Over Other People in the hands of the hierarchs, and in the hands of the owners/controllers of the hierarchies.

The Pools of Teams System (PoT)

In the system, all work is performed by small teams that undertake short duration projects under contract.

Upon project completion, the work products and evidence of work performance may be submitted to Blinap in a proposal.

The proposal will then pass through the full Blinap process, including appraisal through the lens of the project contract.

The Blinap result may affect both the compensation that the team will receive for the work, and the team rating (which will affect the probability that the team will be offered such projects in the future).

— Teams

The Pools of Teams system has one and only one social organization form: the team.

The system treats the teams as the work units. It does not deal directly with individuals as such. (Teams with only one teammate are not considered to be a special case. They are treated as teams, not as individuals.)

This means (among other things) that individuals as such are never licensed; instead, teams have track records, which are distilled into team ratings. (How this works intimately involves both the learning systems of Isonomea and the processes of Blinap. More on that later.)

— — Why Teams As Work Units?

Two societal purposes of making the team rather than the individual the base workforce unit are to give the individual more personal freedom, while at the same time giving the society more stability and productivity.

It is deemed good for each individual to have freedom to engage in various occupations and to switch among them or away from them at will, and in doing so to need to deal only with teammates and potential teammates who directly know and work with the individual as equals.

And it is deemed good for the society to have its base workforce units “locked down”: predictable, reliable, simple, commoditized, interchangeable.

If the base workforce unit of society is taken as the individual, this puts the good of society at loggerheads with the good of the individual. In our existing societies, individuals are effectively serfs of Big Hierarchical Organizations of one sort or another (corporations, government bureaucracies), which is good for the BHOrgs, but often arguably not so good for the individuals.

(The BHOrgs typically have overwhelming Power Over their serfs, except in cases where there are Godzilla unions big enough to match the power of the Godzilla BHOrgs.)

To resolve this, the system makes the team the base workforce unit, which leaves each individual free to be part of multiple teams or no teams, and to circulate at will among teams (subject only to acceptance/agreement of teammates).

By doing this, we give the individual more freedom, and society more stability and productivity.

— — Team Size

Team size can range from one to twenty-four teammates.

Research has typically found the sweet-spot team size (from the perspective of collaborative productivity) to be below ten, to the extent that the work to be done can be broken up and structured to allow sets and sequences of specialized teams in that size range to accomplish it.

— — Team Formation

New teams are formed by their members (through an online process).

Once created, a team can last forever, as teammates come and go.

As part of the formation of a new team, the members-to-be select a team charter from those available for selection.

(When a new type of team charter is successfully proposed to Blinap, that renders it available for selection.)

The charter will specify the types of projects that the new team will be eligible to undertake (e.g., plumbing projects). The charter will always bind the team to a single set of related project types.

The aim is that teams with the same charter be comparable (so that comparative ratings can exist) and that they be interchangeable (so that society never depends on any particular team).

— — Team Governance

Teams are generally autonomous with respect to deciding internal matters that primarily affect the team, including membership changes and distribution of work within the team during projects.

When teammates cannot agree internally, proposing to Blinap will empower Blinap to decide.

— Single-Team Projects

— — Project Contract

Each team is governed by and works to satisfy its single-team project contract.

— — Project Duration

For many types of work, an eight-hour workshift will be a project.

Blinap appraisal projects aim to give the appraising team a three-day window within which to do one day’s worth of work.

Blinap investigation projects may take the team several days or even a few weeks to complete.

— — Project Appraisal

At the end of the project, the work may be appraised (by Blinap) through the lens of the project contract.

Not every project will be appraised immediately after — that would be unnecessary and expensive.

For many types of work, appraisal may happen only when triggered, for example by a proposed-to-Blinap complaint, but then may involve appraising past unappraised projects of the team and of other teams as a bundle, with investigations as needed.

— Multi-Team Projects

Long-term, large-scale, multi-team projects are carried out through sets and sequences of short-duration single-team projects and can involve as many single-team projects as it takes.

The most challenging multi-team projects occur in the realm of emergency response to disasters (fires, floods, earthquakes, military invasions).

Given that the Pools of Teams system, if used as the main societal system for organizing work, must be able to successfully execute even military defense projects, a brief discussion of how this might be done follows.

Following that, the TOLOC learning system and then the "Shadow Projects" learning system will be introduced, as further examples.

Emergency Response System

In a Pools of Teams emergency response project, there are (according to one possible design) four types of teams:

Field teams are in the field (firefighters, medics, soldiers) and their single-team projects may last hours, days or weeks, according to shifting circumstances.

The other team types are out of danger (working remotely), and their projects will typically be hours-long work shifts.

Any sorts of authority their projects grant them will end with their shifts, passed to the teams that take the next shift.

(A team may have life-or-death power while the shift lasts, but that power will end with the shift. No team has enduring power. There is no personalized chain of command.)

— Observer Teams

Observer teams collect information related to the crisis, through any and all available remote technologies (phone calls, traffic cameras, drones, radar systems, satellite feeds, etc.).

A key element of this emergency response system design is to saturate the crisis areas with observer technologies (“an observer behind every blade of grass”).

Observer teams are authorized and enabled both to collect information and to distribute it directly to any and all who may find it of use. The system does not have a top-down bottleneck (in which information only flows up, and only then flows back down).

— Dispatcher Teams

Dispatcher teams can initiate and terminate projects of any type and can provide the changing objectives for the projects in their dispatch portfolios.

The dispatcher teams will typically have control of drones and other technologies that enable them to directly maintain awareness of the situations of their field teams. (When, for example, a door must be breached, the first entity through the doorway will likely be a dispatcher drone. Dispatcher teams perform all functions that can be performed remotely.)

— Strategy Teams

Strategy teams take in information from all relevant sources and use it to understand and track The Big Picture and the logistics necessary to deal with it.

Strategy teams tell the dispatcher teams what their objectives should be.

Dispatcher teams will be heavily interacting with software crisis models, which will provide continuity across team shift changes.

TOLOC (Tutoring On-Line On-Call)

The TOLOC learning system is intended to be a full “can render obsolete” alternative to classroom teaching in schools.

Or, it can be viewed as a classroom teaching system in which the classroom is anywhere, anytime, and the student-teacher ratio is set to 1:1, with a marginal cost per student below our most frugal current classroom teaching setups.

Rather than fighting over scarce seats in the top schools, TOLOC can give every member of society, equally, the best seat (for any and all subject matters) that the society can collaboratively provide.

— TOLOC Actors

There are three types of actors in the TOLOC system:

— Learners

From the learner’s perspective, the aim of each self-initiated, self-terminated TOLOC session is to learn something that the learner has freely chosen to learn.

The system does not feature threats or coercions or arrangements intended to make learners routinely feel bad for poor performance relative to others in the interest of motivating them.

— — Teams Learning

The system enables multiple learners to learn together while being tutored, in all the ways that make sense and aid learning.

In all such situations, teams are formed through mutual agreement among teammates. The system does not put together learning teams through top-down dictate.

In such situations, tutoring with respect to social skills can be part of the curriculum.

— — Learners Appraising

At various points in the course of being tutored, the learner will appraise the work of the tutors (both software tutors and human tutor teams).

Through appraising tutors, the learner learns about what it takes to be a good tutor, which advances the learner toward the possibility of becoming a tutor.

The learner also learns through appraising what it takes to be a good appraiser, which advances the learner toward the possibility of becoming an appraiser.

Having learned how to appraise generally, the first step of most career paths is to learn to appraise the work that practitioners in that career do.

For example, the first step toward becoming a brain surgeon is to learn to appraise brain surgeries.

(How well the overall learning system (with this feature) will work is again an empirical question that can be answered through research.)

For all of these learnings (appraisal, tutoring, brain surgery), TOLOC can be available to help. Every sort of project in the Pools of Teams system can have full TOLOC support, for every role of the team.

— Software Tutors

The system supports multiple modes of interaction, including:

— Tutor Teams (Human)

At any particular moment that the learner finds the software tutor to be inadequate, the learner can initiate an online session with an on-call human tutor team.

The tutor team is selected from a global pool of available tutor teams (through the Pools of Teams system) by software that is sensitive to both the curriculum context and the learner’s history within TOLOC.

From the tutor team’s perspective, there are several aims:

The feedback loop initiated by the learner calling for human help is a critical factor in continually improving the TOLOC system.

Shadow Projects Learning System

Whenever a professional team undertakes a project which has the characteristics that:

the possibility exists for learner teams to undertake shadow projects that run in parallel with the professional project.

(This shadow project does not involve observing the professional team. That is a different kind of shadow project.)

The learner teams (any number) will receive the same electronic inputs that the professional team receives, and (within the allotted timespan for the project) will attempt to independently produce and submit electronic work-products corresponding to those that the professional team will submit.

The learner work-products can then be compared to those produced by the professional team.

As the quality of the work-products produced by a learner team approaches that of those produced by the professional teams that it shadows, so does the rating of the learner team approach that of the professional teams.

As the learner team rating rises, the probability that it will offered professional contracts rises correspondingly.

Through this method, the learner team becomes a professional team by directly doing the work that the professional teams do.

(TOLOC can be always available to help with that.)

— Appraiser Teams

All beginning appraiser teams use this method to become professional appraiser teams.

Anyone can form an appraiser team and register to shadow-appraise proposals of any type.

Once registered, new proposals of the registered type will be sent to the team.

If the team then performs the appraisal and submits it, it will be compared to the resolved appraisal of the professional appraisers, and the rating of the shadow appraiser team will be adjusted according to how well it compares.

This system of bringing in new appraisal teams has no human gatekeepers. Because it does not, it can and does break The Iron Law of Oligarchy. That is a big deal.