There is a moment in our life when we decide to take direct action; to make a zine, to write a book, to create art, to organize a collective, etc.
In many of these, we will be working with other people with whom we should build rapport to arrive at the goal as seamless as possible.
It’s only proper to have some ground rules that you and your comrades could work on and modify depending on your particular situation.
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 (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 source code for, let’s say, any security issues.
Another example: in a mutual aid effort, your group has agreed to necessary tasks each one must do to set the operation up. What each one could do is to report their progress, so the group has an idea of where they are along the project, and can react accordingly. This can be monitored by holding a regular meeting.
However, (radical) transparency must not be confused with any info that’s need-to-know basis. This might mean that you continuously share critical pieces of information among your trusted peers, while excluding 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, unsafe conditions, or any other harmful instances that might jeopardize anyone and anything in the operation.
For example, the group can agree when horseplay is acceptable and when it isn’t. The group 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 harmful, the group can kick them out.
Carry through with own actions and promises
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 something (or someone) goes astray. Nothing is ever set in stone, and change always looms in the horizon. 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 the initial 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 apps1.
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 and public recognition 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,2. 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 part3.
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.
Unless that that particular operation is Don’t Go To Work Today, and even that can be stressful. ↩︎
Plebejus, C. (2021, April 21). Presumption of Trust. Bandilang Itim. https://bandilangitim.noblogs.org/2021/04/21/presumption-of-trust/ ↩︎