Mitch Joel for The Huffington Post: Can Leaderless Organizations Win?

November 1st, 2011

The Huffington Post
By, Mitch Joel

Whether it’s the Arab Spring, the Tea Party movement or Occupy Wall Street, what is it about leaderless organizations that makes it all seem so strange to us?

In 2006, I made the six hour drive from Montreal to Boston to attend the first PodCamp Boston unconference (a participant-driven or self-organized gathering). Prior to that, I had attended some of the initial BarCamp events. The idea of a self-organized event was foreign then… and it’s still foreign now. Some of the initial questions I had about driving to PodCamp included:

  • What if I get there and no one shows up?
  • How will I know if the sessions are any good?
  • Where do I get my nametag?
  • Where are the networking events taking place?
  • Is there a travel sponsor with a rebate on nearby hotels for those attending from out of town?

Those questions are driven by a traditional conference mindset. Here are the unconference answers to those questions:

  • If you get there and no one else shows up, then I didn’t do my job of letting others know about the event.
  • The sessions will only be good if I chose to either lead one or encourage others to lead them.
  • You bring your own nametag.
  • You have to connect with the other people who signed up on the wiki and make your own social events (and encourage others to join you!).
  • You’re a big boy, call some hotels and negotiate a rate for yourself and for others.

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