Act Carefully; Act Bold

There is a moment in our life when we decide to take direct action on what would happen from that point forth; to make a zine, to write a book, to create art, to organize a collective that has a goal, etc.

In many of these endeavors, we will be working with other people with whom we should build the necessary rapport to arrive at the goal as seamless as possible.

If it so happens that the particular endeavor you’d be undertaking won’t be well-received by Society (e.g. feeding, bathing, sheltering homeless people for the night “without permits”), then it’s only proper to have some ground rules that you and your comrades could work on and modify depending on your particular situation.

Be transparent

A smooth operation hinges on the working knowledge of all the moving parts. (Radical) Transparency, therefore, has the potential to expose the flaws behind processes, which can then be improved upon.

For example, the Free and Open Source Software (aka FOSS) community publishes the source code of their programs for everyone to see. This means that anyone with the technical know-how can audit the code for, let’s say, any security issues, or to edit out unnecessary lines to make it more “elegant.”

Another example: in Operation Feed the Hungry, you and your group delegated the necessary tasks among the members to set it up. What each could do is to report their progress, so the group as a whole has an estimate of where they are along the project. This can be monitored by holding a regular meeting.

However, (radical) transparency must not be confused with any info that’s need-to-know-only basis. This might mean that you continuously share critical pieces of information among your trusted peers, but not with your friends and family who have nothing to do with the operation. This also means that you don’t need to share your personal private info to anyone, especially if it has no bearing whatsoever in the operation.

Establish clear expectations for what type of behaviors are appropriate

The group could practice beforehand identifying unsafe behaviors (i.e. performance of a task that is conducted in a manner that may threaten the safety and/or compromise the operation), unsafe conditions (i.e. condition in the work environment that’s likely to jeopardize anyone or compromise the operation)

For example, agree when horseplay is acceptable and when it isn’t. You can also agree from the get-go that no one should be romantically and/or sexually involved with anyone in the group for the duration of the project, so as not to complicate stuff. If need be, provide everyone a copy of the list of such expectations so that all have a reference, and are reminded to be mindful of their actions in and out of the group.

Correct inappropriate behaviors

Once boundaries have been set, agree upon the “corrective measures” that the group will implement for any inappropriate behaviors. Perhaps, the group can start imposing limits on the involvement of the misbehaving person; or, if the deed is so disrespectful, the group can kick him out.

Carry through with own actions and promises

No one likes expecting something that they don’t even know yet wouldn’t come nor happen. People are inclined to believe to at least look forward to a promise made. If, somehow, you could not follow through, own your shortcomings and apologize. Either try not to repeat it, or don’t make further promises until your situation improves.

Be flexible enough to change strategy

When making plans, allow for some wiggle room when, not if, something (or someone) goes astray. Nothing is ever set in stone, and people always say that change is constant, because it’s true. In order to be flexible, though, you should have at least a good working knowledge about all the moving parts of the operation. At the very least, you have a plan B in the event that something doesn’t work out according to plan. Every project manager ever knows that in every project, an anomaly of sorts is inevitable. It’s just a matter of mitigating its impact. Of course, to mitigate, coordination and communication with key members are important.

Engage in open discussions

Everybody should provide opportunities for collaborative team discussion and learning. Create a safe space for discussion. If physical meeting isn’t possible (especially during COVID pandemic), then you might consider getting everyone on board using Signal Messenger, Briar, or some other secure and private messaging apps.

Accept ideas as they are, whether they are seemingly stupid at first. The goal is to gather as many ideas from everyone as possible, and to distill them after as a group, agreeing collectively on what would add value to project and/or to the people.

Use social praise, public recognition, and non-monetary (duh) privileges to reinforce cooperation among the team. Prompt feedback is always appreciated when recognizing group and individual performance.

Practice what they preach, even when under pressure

The success of any operation does not, unfortunately, stem from complacency, unless that particular operation is Don’t Go To Work Today, and even that is stressful (no solidarity among laborers could destabilize them and threaten their income). It’s definitely hard to maintain composure when under pressure, but if there has been a good relationship among you and your peers, stress can be alleviated by the fact that you can trust yourself and your comrades that everyone will do their part.

No. Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise.

– Alan Moore

Communicate meaningful information

Meaningful information can be highly subjective here, so you and your group can decide what this could be. It could only be pieces that are related to the operation, and anything that isn’t can be weeded out. It could also be brief inspirational pep talk that could boost the project members' morale.


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