I had the good fortune to meet Andy Goldring from the Permaculture Association this week, who filled my head with wonderful possibilities which I look forward to exploring over 2008. He also shared with me the wonderful concept of adhocracy, which has got me thinking about all kinds of things.

The word adhocracy conjures up all kinds of fun stuff, but essentially it feels like the principle of coming together to do whatever needs doing, without reference to structures, hierarchies or individual agendas. That's not something we see happening very often, at least not in the commercial and educational worlds, but if you peek beneath the surface of things you can quickly see that it's actually how a lot of things work. Families, friendships, the best kinds of creative or commercial partnerships, all operate on the basis of shared purpose and needs. It is, in fact, the secret of getting things done.

I'm currently working intently on establishing exactly this sort of culture at my main "work" endeavour, the School of Everything, so it's a timely concept for me to explore. Thinking about how to establish that crucial sense of communal purpose here reminded me of this great post by Tim Boucher about how skills are shared and horded within organisations, and particularly how people hide their skills in order to have time to do their work. "This isn’t an effective way to operate within a shared value community though, which is what a company is. At least ideally: you are working towards one another’s mutual benefit, right? And not towards a paycheck?"

If we want to build communities and networks that are truly effective at getting things done, we need to establish two things: (1) a genuine sense of shared values and common purpose, and (2) a spirit of generosity towards supporting each other's needs and doing whatever we can to achieve our common objectives. If you have these in place, then your shared problems become much easier to solve, your ambitions quite achievable. Strange then that so many organisations talk of focus, roles and individual responsibilities, whilst our schools punish collaboration as "cheating".

Andy also told me a great line that his daughter uses: when I mentioned DIY culture he said "no no, not DIY - DIT. Do It Together!" So here's to adhocracy, to DIT culture, common purpose, and getting things done sociably. Thanks Andy!