In the Collective Thinking method, "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.
Now we begin to understand the concept of Collective Thinking. Let's look at the forum in which Collective Thinking is played out: the Assembly. The Assembly is a meeting model. Working groups can operate as an assembly. When everyone in a community is gathered it is called a General Assembly or Citizen's Assembly or People's Assembly.
The Campaign for Real Democracy defines a People's Assembly:
(1) Peoples Assemblies make decisions horizontally
(2) Peoples Assemblies are interested to learn about, try out and embody new democratic practices
It really is that simple. An assembly is a decision-making body. The US Day Of Rage organization spells out further what an assembly is and is not:
- It is a participatory decision-making body which works towards consensus. The Assembly looks for the best arguments to take a decision that reflects every opinion – not positions at odds with each other as what happens when votes are taken. An Assembly should not be centred around an ideological discourse; instead it should deal with practical questions:
- What do we need?
- How can we get it?
The Assembly is based on free association – if you are not in agreement with what has been decided, you are not obliged to carry it out. Every person is free to do what they wish – the Assembly tries to produce collective intelligence, and shared lines of thought and action. It encourages dialogue and getting to know one another. An Assembly is a gathering place where people who have a common purpose can meet on equal footing.
It can be for:
- Information: the participants share information of mutual interest. They do not debate the content of this information.
- Reflection: to jointly think through a subject, situation or problem. Information must be given, but there is no need to arrive at an immediate decision.
- Decisions: when the group must reach a joint conclusion or decision about a subject it has been involved in. To reach this, the two previous steps (having information and reflecting on it) must have been taken in order to build a consensus."
"The promise of the People’s Assemblies & the role of cyberspace in fulfilling it
The greatest promise of the People’s Assemblies is to unleash a wave of never experienced social creativity arising from 1000s of Assemblies around the world and channel it for self-organisation around vital interests of the people, by the people.
When those Assemblies get linked up and the collaboration flows in and across the occupy sites accelerate, anything becomes possible.
The Assemblies can fulfill that promise only if they tap into the bold surge in expressive and coordination capability, enabled by the Web, both online and off-line.
It’s not only a question of having enough Occupy-supportive geeks to build and connect tools into a non-confusing, truly empowering virtual environment. By that I mean empowering us to do what we need to do together, without having to clone ourselves to be able to participate in all meetings where we are needed.
It’s also a question of having enough appetite in large enough number of Occupationistas to engage in rapid learning what it takes to make the best use of our electronic and social technologies. That would also call for the stepping forward of budding “community technology architects”.
They are geeks with a passion for “whole systems” thinking and matching the rapidly evolving needs of coordination within and among the Occupy sites with the also rapidly evolving affordances of various tech tools and environments.
If you are one of them, what do you plan to do to help the movement appreciate more actively the importance of mastering the best web-enabled collaboration and environments, and catching up with the best practices of their use by academia, businesses, and civil society organisations?" (http://thefutureofoccupy.org/2011/11/22/beyond-protest-the-way-of-peoples-assemblies/)