"The Pirate Party has spread organically to seventy countries as of this writing [in 2013], founded by me as an individual person on January 1, 2006."
"everybody is empowered to act in the swarm just on the basis of what he or she believes will further its goals — but no one is allowed to empower himself or herself to restrict others, neither on his or her own nor through superior numbers."
People want to work for you for free
Culture of leadership and trust
Control the vision, but never the message. If you control the thrust of the message, but not the wording, then people will get it repeated to them in the words of those closest to them. Your original message gets remixed; people make fan art.
A corollary of this is that the central members can't recruit new people, because they are too involved. The swarm grows from the edges; new members recruit their friends. The people at the center need to send enthusiasm to the people at the edges with such vigor that it spreads beyond the edges.
Be open to anyone to enter.
People are empowered to act, but never to restrict others from acting.
Keep everyone's eyes on the target, paint it red daily. Broadcast and maintain values.
Draw the timeline for all to see
Visible, activating, inclusive goals
The message is always, "We can change the world for the better. It's a hard struggle but we can do it."
"Keep repeating your vision of how fantastic the world will look after the swarm has succeeded in its ambitions"
Always talk about "we can do this", "we need to get this done", never, "I want you to do this".
"Between now and success, you will need to set subgoals to be met that are spaced about eight weeks apart... you’re telling the swarm the things that need to happen to get from point A to point B. You’re not saying who should be doing what and when."
The goal of getting the Pirate Party registered was a "perfect task" because "it was a hurdle to clear, there was a deadline, it was doable, and it contributed in a very graspable way to the end success". (Compare Tsongkhapa: aspiration + faith in the path + faith in the goal = joyful effort) "Make all the targets visible and show the progress toward them." "Every day, you need to make sure that everybody in the swarm can check how far the swarm as a whole has progressed toward the nearest subgoal and toward the end goal. Paint the targets bright red on a daily basis for everybody to see; make all the targets visible and show the progress toward them."
Short-term goals create urgency.
Do-ocracy. "As a result of this far-reaching mandate, somebody who believes the swarm should take a certain action to further its goals need only start doing it. If others agree that the action is beneficial, then they will join in on that course of action"
Praise initiative, support, and social lubrication
A swarm only works if everyone feels friendly. Parties and social gatherings make it work. Fun is crucial.
Nobody speaks on anyone else's behalf. Everyone has a voice.
Anonymous and Occupy have no leaders, and weak direxion and purpose. Pirate Party has strong leadership, and inclusiveness. The leaders maintain the values of the group. "Leadership is not an appointed position, like management; leadership is a state of group psychology."
Any member of the public can pick goals off a public to-do list.
Focus on what everyone CAN do, not on what they cannot or MUST
Success encourages the whole swarm. They want to replicate it. Broadcast it.
Promote failure reports to maximize learning from mistakes.
You can easily get 100s of volunteers in a few days. Now you need to manage and channel that energy before they lose interest. You need a mission that is inspiring and achievable. The Pirate Party needed 225,000 signatures to get on the ballot. This has a definite payoff to the swarm. The leadership gives daily updates on their progress
Treat the most active people like gold. Encourage meetups. Create cohesion. Make people make friends.
The Pirate Party polled at 61% when their goal was 4%
Volunteers should be directed to the relevant sub-forum. There they can talk to the leaders of the subforum.
The role of a leader is to resolve conflict, manage, and inspire. Lead by example. Any organization copies the methods and culture of the founder. Communicate very clearly what you want to see happen, and allow self-organization to happen.
The leader sets the purpose, and also the mechanisms (dispute-resolution mechanisms etc.)
Central leaders communicate on a public forum.
There are about 2 core people, 7 next layer down, many more next layer down. You can communicate with 7 people, get their reports etc, but not with more than 7. If you get more than 7 groups-with-leaders, it's time to create another layer below. These people are all leaders who emerged organically thru their initiative.
2 people in each 'head' position is better than one; it allows them to cover for each other.
4 functions heads: PR, activism, swarmcare, web. (Activism head does things like arranging meetingplaces, and printing fliers.) (Swarmcare pings activists and makes sure they know what is going on.)
The org chart should lag slightly behind the observed reality; people are appointed to roles they have taken upon themselves. When you see someone is leading, ask if it's cool to make that formal, make them the go-to person for that.
"It can help to think of the organizational chart as the map rather than the terrain — when there’s a conflict between the two, the terrain wins every time. The organizational chart is an estimate, at best, of what the organization actually looks like."
Once a group hits 150 people, split it in two. e.g. if a city group has 150 people, make separate groups for the north and south of that city
Among 7 people, 21 connections. Among 8 people, 28 connections. By adding that 8th person, you got 14% more labor, but 33% more complexity of internal politics.
Group size 7: inner circle of close collaborators. Group size 30: personal collaboration, but not close. Group size 150: everyone knows everyone's name. (The military names for these group sizes are squad, platoon, and company.)
Swarm is optimized for speed because it has none of the bottlenecks normal organizations do (like asking for permission). ('Agility' would be a more voguish word for this.)
Swarm is optimized for trust because all its communications are out in the open.
The officers uphold the scaffolding; the activists do the work; the passive supporters are future activists.
Train the officers in this stuff, in swarm methodology.
Have regular meetings (by videocalls if necessary). This increases social cohesion, and keeps everyone clear about what is going on.
Having a strict end-time for the meetings ensures people don't waste time, and makes people more willing to commit.
Having meetings isn't the point of the swarm. Meetings exist to cöordinate the work that happens in between the meetings, which is the point of the swarm. Keep reminding people of this.
As the swarm’s founder, you must be aware of the human psychology of leadership. People will do as you do, exactly as you do, even if and when you are having one of the worst days of your life.
"You also need to communicate that everybody must trust each other in this regard. Leading by doing is necessary here, but not sufficient; you need to periodically repeat that one of the core values of the swarm is that we trust each other to work for the swarm"
Swedish Pirate Party had a 'three-pirate rule': "if three activists agree that something is good for the organization, they have a green light to act in the organization’s name."
The three pirate rule is a bit of a tradeoff between individual autonomy and authorization. "However, named people should never be gatekeepers"
People worry that letting activists run amok like this will lead to something that ruins your reputation, but Falkvinge claims this never happened once in the Pirate Party, over three years and fiftythousand members.
"if you have a large assembly of people who are forced to agree on every movement before doing anything, including the mechanism for what constitutes such agreement, then you rarely achieve anything at all."
PRINCIPLE: "If you see something you don’t like, contribute with something you do like." That means no bitching or complaining about substandard work you see in the swarm. That, in turn, means no one feels inhibited to take initiative, because being criticized for your work is not part of it. ("In contrast, if, out of fear for being criticized by the public, people start cracking down on one another when they take initiatives, a backseat driver culture will emerge that punishes the activists who take risks and do things they believe in. If a backseat driver culture emerges, risk taking and initiatives don’t happen, because activists become shell-shocked from constant peer criticism whenever they try something. If this pattern develops, the swarm dies.")
PRINCIPLE: Pre-frame criticism as a sign it's working. "If somebody says you’re all morons and clowns, that’s a sign you’re on the right track. If they get angry with you, that’s even better."
People need to see the swarm both online and offline (meetups)
Falkvinge says "there are four classical ways to take to the streets — handing out flyers, putting up posters, having tables or similar in squares, and staging rallies", but he is talking about politics.
Specifics in how to hand out fliers on pages 101-104. Posters pages 104-105. Stalls 105-106. Rallies 106-108
Make t-shirts to increase visibility. When your people show up, show up in uniform.
People taking on the responsibility to do things also means people paying for things out of their own pockets (e.g. printing, web hosting). Think about the budgeting advantages of this.
Put out the call for success stories, and shout about them on your newsletter. "We can also use such photos for internal competitions with fun and silly prizes."
A leader has to have the authority to make it happen (make people do their job), and the accountability. Don't confuse accountability with blame.
"When making development plans, it is typically prudent to leave 10 percent of the time of every subgoal unallocated for unforeseen events. Only you can know how this translates to your swarm, but the key is to adjust the schedule and the plan every day to account for changes in a fluid reality."
"Anything that you measure in public, people will strive and selforganize to improve" - note that you don't specify the method, leaving the user to figure that out. This includes donations, membership numbers, social media metrics, response times.
Use silly prizes to incentivize routine/boring/mechanical tasks like replying to emails. Generally rewarded to a squad to encourage teamwork.
Measuring things in public and rewarding them can distort the work in all kinds of ways, so be careful. People pander to the metrics instead of getting the job done.
When training a raw beginner, give explicit, clear instruxions. (This includes instruxions to the general public rather than to your activists.) The next stage, when the activist gains a bit of competence, is to show how their work fits into the context and serves the purpose. The third stage is encouragement/confidence-building. The fourth stage is laissez-faire, when you only occasionally reinforce them for going the extra mile.
A group in the early stages of this model will be polite and apologetic; this is a sign that people are keeping their distance. Then the tiffs happen. Third, they work together as a team without being told what to do.
"The swarm must have mechanisms for conflict resolution, for decision making, and for reward culture. There are many ways to accomplish this. A traditional voting democracy is one of the worst."
Conflict starts when one person wants to restrict what another can do. There are four answers: no one can restrict anyone, the majority can restrict the minority, the monarch decides, veto-based democracy.
Majority rule gives an air of legitimacy.
Because participation in a swarm is voluntary, anything that makes people feel like the losing side (e.g. majority rule) will just make them quit.
Majority voting creates an us-and-them schismatic mentality, rather than keeping people focused on the swarm's aspiration. "This distortion of motivation in a voting scenario will cause such activists to behave in a completely different pattern than if they were focused entirely on the end goals of the swarm." It trains people in the skillset of internal conflict, not harmony.
Use consensus circles for groups of 30 people or less. Consensus circle: each person talks for a set time, usually one minute. Go around the circle like this, everyone having one minute, which they can choose to spend in silence. Anyone can propose a solution to the topic under discussion, and anyone can veto it. Go around and around until no one vetoes anything. Don't belittle, don't label, don't despair.
Whereas in a democracy you'd have an idea and bring it up at the next meeting, in a swarm you have an idea and do it. If others dig it, they join in.
Not only do you not need to ask permission, you are banned from asking permission. Asking permission is shunting the accountability for your actions onto the boss who greenlit them.
Accept that a swarm will make gaffes, but that bureaucracies also make gaffes, and the swarm structure won't make matters any worse, and you'll get stoic acceptance of the mistakes. "My approach for a very basic sanity check was to have three people agree on an idea as good for the swarm. One person can come up with ludicrous ideas, but I’ve never seen two more people agree on such ideas."
PRINCIPLE: Mistakes are not only allowed, but expected. They should be communicated so the swarm can learn from them (a 'Book of Blunders')
By definition, a swarm's work is stuff that has never been done before, so trial and error should be encouraged. Like a lean startup, iterate at the fastest possible speed.
Mindset not of 'this was done wrong', but 'this could have been done better and here's how'
In an organization, you're first and foremost a position. In a swarm, you're first and foremost a person. "They make friends and change the world, and that’s it. The swarm is there to support their making friends and changing the world, not to fit them into a flowchart. "
Be careful of people who want to reorganize the swarm. Bring them back to the swarm's principles.
"the more you can use the way people behave naturally to further the swarm’s goals, the faster you move."
The finances are controlled in a rather traditional way by the officers. Budget is divided and subdivided in the same way the groups were.
If you want to change the purpose of the swarm, this is one time to have a vote. Voting is generally discouraged because it splits the group, but here we need to split the group.
Liquid democracy gets around the problem of people not being able to make it to the meeting.
If people are gathered around a disruptive influence, they are doing so because he gives them attention. Give them attention and he loses his followers.
Have a values document
German Pirate Party's founding document is on pages 191-195
This should say something like: the hierarchy distributes resources, runs official communications. The swarm does the actual activism. We empower members to take action without asking for permission. " We make decisions without asking anybody’s permission, and we stand for them. Sometimes, things go wrong. It’s always okay to make a mistake in the Pirate Party, as long as one is capable of learning from that mistake. Here’s where the famous “threepirate rule” comes into play: if three self-identified pirates are in agreement that some kind of activism is beneficial to the party, they have authority to act in the party’s name." "We are courageous. If something goes horribly wrong, we deal with it then, and only then. We are never nervous in advance. Everything can go wrong, and everything can go right. We are allowed to do the wrong thing, because otherwise, we can never do the right thing either." "We take initiatives and respect those of others. The person who takes an initiative gets it most of the time. We avoid criticizing the initiatives of others, for they who take initiatives do something for the party. If we think the initiative is pulling the party in the wrong direction, we compensate by taking an initiative of our own more in line with our own ideals. If we see something we dislike, we respond by making and spreading something we like, instead of pointing out what we dislike. We need diversity in our activism and strive for it." We always prefer constructive action to attacking the actions of another. "We represent ourselves. The Pirate Party depends on a diversity of voices. None of us represents the Pirate Party on blogs and similar: we’re a multitude of individuals that are selfidentified pirates. The diversity gives us our base for activism". " we’re also just ourselves, and never claim to speak for a larger group: if our ideas get traction, that’s enough"
Have another document for the people who run the scaffolding. (Sample on page 196-202) Defend the organization's energy, and defend its focus. Lead by example. Make decisions and act, instead of gathering consensus. Lead by inspiring and suggesting, rather than by orders. "We cause things to happen by saying aloud that “I’m going to do X, because I think it will accomplish Y. If enough of us do this, we could probably cause Z to happen. Therefore, it would be nice to have some company when I do X,” or something along those lines in their own words." "We advance role models. We reward our colleagues as often as we can, both in public and private, when they display a behavior we want to reinforce. In particular, this goes for activists who advance their colleagues." "We reward with attention. Every behavior that gets attention in an organization is reinforced." Ignore the bad; starve it of attention. Ignore attention seekers and they'll wither away. Trust/assumption of good faith. Jump on disrespect or condescension. Address complaints in operational language. "Administration is a support and never a purpose. We try to keep administrative weight and actions to a minimum, and instead prioritize activism." Pledge to develop all members/agents.
Officers need to know they have the authority to appoint people, get deputies/assistants. They must feel comfortable with this authority.
There must be empty positions for the activists to fill. Don't be afraid to have an org chart full of empty boxes.
Having fun in a swarm is more important than in a regular office.
There are long periods with no apparent response to your message and activism. Have faith that it is working thru this. Then there is a sudden burst of interest and you have to be ready to mobilize.
But these sudden successes are as impermanent as the slow grind was. Do not get attached and think you've reached a new plateau of status. "The problems arrive when everybody in the swarm takes for granted that the current popularity, visibility, sales, or whatever your measure of success is will keep on for the next year or two. When that happens, they will stop working extrovertedly, and start fighting between themselves for all the riches and resources and fame". The leader must sombre people appropriately when they have these expectations. "keep the swarm on track, and do remind them of that saying in the entertainment business: no time is as tough as the year after the year you’re hot — and that year will come around, as certainly as the calendar tells you it will"
You must have a unified central scaffolding; don't let it splinter into multiple legal structures. This creates vested interests. It also increases administrative fat.
Recruit people who like to work, not people who like politics/management/admin
Newsletter should go out about once a week. Cover information: "Let people know what’s going on, both in the swarm and in the world as it relates to the swarm." Sample rhetoric about why the swarm is important. Supply people with confidence via success stories. Hold competitions. Display metrics that matter (i.e. progress towards subgoals). Offer prizes. Create a sense of urgency.
The 'activation ladder', or 'volunteer funnel', has several steps: first hearing about it, visiting the web page, talking to an active member, etc. It's like engaging a web community.
The leader should know every step.
There are two important elements of the volunteer funnel: make it clear what you do, and make it easy to get engaged.
The 'bottom line' metric is: how many people can we motivate to take action?
You need a mechanism to alert your people quickly to take action e.g. comment on this relevant article, flashmob outside the courthouse at 2, etc. This allows you to be more visible than the opposition.
Don't collect data on your members. Ignore everyone who tells you you should. Allow them to even be anonymous or pseudonymous. "you don’t need to know who your activists are. You just need them to talk about the swarm’s issues with their friends, show up at rallies, etc."
Reward any attention (in media, online, any) with a reaction. Blog pingbacks are a simple example of this.
"Most bloggers get ten to twenty visitors a day to their blog. This is “the long tail” of bloggers that, frankly, doesn’t get a lot of readers at all, compared to the thousand- and million-reader blogs that tend to set the agenda. Nevertheless, these small-scale bloggers are just as sensitive to — and curious about — traffic spikes as the larger blogs." These have 500 visits all of a sudden from mentioning the Pirate Party, and that reinforced mentioning it. The same logic could be applied to Reddit upvotes.
The directive is to give up the illusion that you can control your brand, and instead just reward any and all attention.
Connect with fans
Lead by example when discussing publicly, in blog comments etc. Be nice and polite, especially when attacked. This confuses them: "if you can't convince them, confuse them"
Oldmedia gets its stories from newmedia, and the swarm has an advantage (speed+numbers) in manipulating newmedia.
If 3-5 activists write a press release collaboratively on etherpad, they can write it quicker than an individual. Aim for about 25 minutes turnaround time from hearing the story (on Twitter), to issuing the press release. This gives the journalist enough time to read your release and incorporate it into his story.
Template press release page 258-259
Make people angry to get press.
Four kinds of press release page 263-265
"A key concept in dealing with oldmedia is “owning the issue.” Basically, it means that your swarm needs to be so tightly associated with the issues you drive or things you sell that whenever oldmedia come across a story on the topic, they call you for comments." This is easy if you are the Pirate Party on piracy, but harder if you are the Pirate Party on civil rights.
Be so plugged-in that you can give the journalists stories they don't know about yet.
"Oldmedia won’t even mention a new swarm by name until it does something significant. Just existing and having opinions is not interesting." When the breakthru happens, it will likely be both in media and in recruitment, and you will be overwhelmed with interview requests.
The Pirate Party, being so unconventional, was naturally ridiculed a lot in their first press. Falkvinge worked hard to convince people that this was progress over not being mentioned at all.
"Several swarms have tried to abstain from having this avatar face, and they quickly discover that it works very poorly against oldmedia. [Think of Occupy] Put simply, every swarm needs an avatar — an embodiment of the swarm — to get represented in oldmedia" "you need to teach the media subswarm to write quotes and attribute them to you, the swarm leader or founder"
This avatar face should be at major events (e.g. court cases in the case of the Pirate Party). This allows him to say "I was there and you weren't" in debates. It also gives you your own footage, with your face, to release to media.
"getting TV time is usually as easy as walking up to the TV crews, introducing yourself, handing over a business card, and saying, “If you’d like me to comment on what’s happening here, I’d be happy to do so.” Don’t be any kind of pushy — media crews hate that.... More often than not, they’ll jump at the opportunity of getting your comment right away. After all, it’s much-better-spent time for them to get your comments than just wait around"
An anniversary of some event is an opportunity to write an op-ed. And before an event like a court case. The other opening is when someone expresses an opportunity diametrically opposed to yours. Op-eds as reaxions require more cachet.
Set up a press center with photos, logos, etc. that journalists can download and use. Footage your camera guy takes at events goes up here. "You’ll find that having this available without asking means that oldmedia makes a lot more stories about you" (another instance of the principle that journalists are lazy). "The address to this press center should be at the bottom of every single press release, and it should be as simple as http://press.yourswarm.org or http://www.yourswarm.org/press"
"The danger lies in not realizing that people will regard everything you say as having much more weight than you place on it yourself at the time you say it. If your swarm is political, anything you do — or don’t do — will be interpreted as a political statement, everything from your choice of groceries to your pick of vacation resort. Anything you say will be interpreted as a suggestion for legislation."
"The simplest way to avoid it is to be nice to all people, even to your adversaries. Doing so will not just benefit the culture of the swarm, where you lead by example and show people that being excellent to each other is the way to behave"
Internationalization: "There are basically three ways to handle an internationalization. The first is to ignore the people you inspire altogether, leaving them to their own devices, which is a bad idea from all conceivable angles. The second, better way is to lend as much energy and resources as you can to the international copycat movements without sacrificing the operational capability of your own swarm: provide the software you have already developed, experiences you’ve drawn, logotypes and press materials, and so on. Before long, experiences and promotional materials will start flowing in both directions as the swarms in other countries mature.
The third way is to aspire to lead all countries’ movements, just as you led the first country. It is likely that people in the new countries will agree to this, but it presents considerable cultural challenges
I would argue that it’s superhuman to understand more than two or three cultures to the depth necessary for leading a swarm in that culture, as a swarm is very informal by its nature."
"If you do insist on leading all countries formally, I would argue that you need one or two people in every country to act as your local deputies"
"At some point, an international support group will form by itself with the self-appointed task of coordinating the international versions"