O'Reilly logo

Governance Reimagined: Organizational Design, Risk, and Value Creation by David R. Koenig

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter 3

The Dynamics of Self-Organizing Groups

Whether responding to a crisis, taking political action, or mingling at a neighborhood party, humans have the remarkable ability to self-organize. Sometimes these organizations are transient and sometimes they change the world.

Take for example, the 2011 political uprising in Egypt. A reporter for Gulf News described the epicenter of the protests, Tahrir Square in Cairo, as follows:

This is starting to look like a small city. There's a community feel. Different roles assigned for different people. There's a corner for artists who write slogans, a couple of small, makeshift field clinics, a place for people to compile pictures and videos to upload to the Internet. Men take turns to guard the entrances. Some women and men clean the place by collecting garbage and sweeping the streets. Others ensure that everyone is fed. The most interesting part is there is no command structure so far.1

Or consider the response to major floods in North Dakota and Minnesota during the spring of 1997. A research paper written several years later examined the resulting changes in local government hierarchy and responsibilities:

During the 1997 flood, city, county, and state, agencies were all forced to coordinate their efforts daily or hourly. The independence enjoyed by each agency was washed away when the flood reached catastrophic levels....The novel system that emerged during the two weeks that Fargo and Moorhead were besieged can best be characterized ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required