Collective Thinking is an essential part of our movement

The Commission for Group Dynamics in Assemblies of the Puerta del Sol Protest Camp (Madrid) defined collective thinking as follows:

Collective Thinking is an essential part of our movement. To our understanding, Collective Thinking is diametrically opposed to the kind of thinking propounded by the present system. This makes it difficult to assimilate and apply. Time is needed, as it involves a long process. When faced with a decision, the normal response of two people with differing opinions tends to be confrontational. They each defend their opinions with the aim of convincing their opponent, until their opinion has won or, at most, a compromise has been reached.

The aim of Collective Thinking, on the other hand, is to construct. That is to say, two people with differing ideas work together to build something new. The onus is therefore not on my idea or yours; rather it is the notion that two ideas together will produce something new, something that neither of us had envisaged beforehand. This focus requires of us that we actively listen, rather than merely be preoccupied with preparing our response.

Collective Thinking is born when we understand that all opinions, be these opinions our own or others’, need to be considered when generating consensus and that an idea, once it has been constructed indirectly, can transform us.

Those quotes come from the Quick Guide on Group Dynamics in People’s Assemblies published by “Take the Square” group born from the demonstration in May of 2011 in Madrid, based on the ideals of inclusiveness, collective intelligence, respect, non-violence and shared decision-making.

A popular US-based blog, the Daily Kos, commented on the text above, as follows:

One way to think of this might be to consider the polls we use here on Daily Kos. Someone puts up choices and we have to choose one. The one with the most votes is the winner. I often struggle with polls and multiple choice tests because the answer I would choose is almost never there. In a collective thinking model, you would never present such a poll. You might present a list of options, but instead of choosing one of them you would work together to combine or amend the list into a singular answer which reflected the concerns and ideas of everyone. You’d get to an answer which everyone could live with and would consent to. It’s highly likely that the resulting answer would not look like anything on that original list of choices.

In competitive thinking, we rely on individuals or small organizations to formulate solutions and we either go with them or we reject them and choose another individual’s solutions. It’s highly likely that neither option is optimal, but we’re forced to choose. We then see those who made the winning proposal as leaders and tend to defer to them on many future decisions.

In collective thinking, this would never happen. If someone proposes a solution, it is put in front the collective for consideration and ideas on how to make it even better and assurance that all serious concerns about the proposal are addressed. The resulting solution belongs to everybody and no one is seen as a leader and no one is ever deferred to for future decision-making. Empowerment to execute proposals and fulfill leader-like positions is temporary and in service to the community.

Given that collective thinking is an essential part of our movement, it shouldn’t be restricted to “same place & same time” settings. The Future of Occupy initiative aims at using the best tools and methods of the arts and sciences of collective intelligence for expanding the scope of the our distributed genius from physical places to virtual spaces, and doing so, connecting better the local and global dimensions of the movement.

The Quick Guide provides valuable insights for various teams of the Assemblies, such as the Logistics, Facilitating and the Minutes teams.

Considering that no Assembly should be an island onto itself, we suggest adding a team of community knowledge gardeners, whose job is to ensure that meeting notes get turned into interactive, living documents, structured and presented for facilitating ensuing deliberations and collective action.

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9 Comments on “Collective Thinking is an essential part of our movement”

  1. Reply
    December 13, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    The beauty of the movement is that it is opening public debate. It is essential that people develop their understanding collectively. Howevere there is a danger that it will sink into a collective mush rather that an active political movement.

  2. Reply
    February 16, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    ON COLLECTIVE THINKING
    What you describe here is inter-subjective thinking. Thinking that comes from the interaction of the peolple involved.
    Collective thinking is not the Result. The collective is the Source. When peole start to experience themselves as part of the collective that is ‘thinking’ through them and allow that collective to be given voice, what emerges through the dialogue is of a different order

    • Reply
      February 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

      > Collective thinking is not the Result. The collective is the Source.

      Thank you Chris, for that vital distinction with huge practical implications!

      • Reply
        February 17, 2012 at 7:59 am #

        Thanks for speedy response George. Love the quality of thought on this sight.

    • Reply
      February 17, 2012 at 7:57 am #

      Dear Chris,

      I would love to hear more from you about this vital distinction. Sharing your experiences and insights could help more of us make the connection and recognise where it may be present in our lives and our world already.
      Thank you so much for drawing our attention to this.

      • Reply
        February 17, 2012 at 8:05 am #

        Thanks Annabetz: working as a psychotherapist with the relational ‘Field’ between the client and myself, I have come to understand the the affects of this Field are not the result of our interaction but come through our interactions – although without us being presnet it would not manifest. It is a latent field that becmes patent through interactions.
        Lots of sources: -Systemic (too many to mention); Post-Jungian (Swartz-Salant)

        Hope that helps (between breakfast and work).
        Chris

    • Reply
      February 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

      > When people start to experience themselves as part of the collective that is ‘thinking’ through them and allow that collective to be given voice, what emerges through the dialogue is of a different order.

      The part experiences itself as part of the whole we when it experiences the whole as part of itself. Radical egoism is about leaving behind the small ego, and expanding the self-sense to include the whole. In that stage solidarity doesn’t come from moral stance that can be shaken under pressure, but from a profound realization that “none of us can be free until all of us are” (Kropotkin).

      What does all that have to do with us the Occupy movement? There’s a now-happening Occupy Wall Street Forum focused on the Commons. There’s no Commons without one of the three stages of commoning. The third stage of commoning is what Martin Luther King pointed to, by saying: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” The School of Commoning describes that stage as: “Recognising the inherent connectedness of humanity as a whole, and having our individual and collective ‘centre of gravity’ in a state of being, where we are not separate from it.”

      When a collective enters that altitude of development, its connective intelligence fires up. Connective intelligence is much more than a wordplay on collective intelligence. It is the act of connection that gives rise to new life forms, thought forms, and forms of organizing. In response to another conversation here, I wrote:

      “A scaling across” strategy will be successful only if we learn tapping into the whole pool of our distributed intelligence (collective intelligence) and mobilizing the surprising power of emergent connections (connective intelligence).

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Quick Guide on Group Dynamics in People’s Assemblies - December 15, 2011

    [...] document (originally posted on Take the Square) emphasizes the nature and importance of collective thinking and deals with such roles and functions involved in a mass assembly [...]

  2. Alternative currencies by Next Economy @fer_ananda - Pearltrees - December 29, 2011

    [...] The Quick Guide provides valuable insights for various teams of the Assemblies, such as the Logistics, Facilitating and the Minutes teams. Considering that no Assembly should be an island onto itself, we suggest adding a team of community knowledge gardeners, whose job is to ensure that meeting notes get turned into interactive, living documents, structured and presented for facilitating ensuing deliberations and collective action. Given that collective thinking is an essential part of our movement, it shouldn’t be restricted to “same place & same time” settings. The Future of Occupy initiative aims at using the best tools and methods of the arts and sciences of collective intelligence for expanding the scope of the our distributed genius from physical places to virtual spaces , and doing so, connecting better the local and global dimensions of the movement. Like this: In collective thinking, this would never happen. Collective Thinking is an essential part of our movement | The Future of Occupy [...]

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