A river that needs crossing political and tech blogs - On the political side, there is arrogance and ignorance, on the geek side there is naivety and over- complexity

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Control freak's (DRAFT)

(Psychology) an obsessive need to be in control of what is happening http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_freak This has been an issue with many groups and individuals I have been involved with in activist organising.

It was key to the decline of the http://indymedia.org.uk project and the ossification the climate camp process and static nature of the climate camp website http://climatecamp.org.uk My most destructive experience of this till recently was the organising of the London European Social Forum, and the central role of the SWP and Ken Livingston's office in this. Currently I am involved in the organizing of the http://rebelliousmediaconference.org and I would like to highlight how this process is being damaged by Control Freakery during the on going process.

RMC (Peacenews) process and “pushing the agenda”

During the first meeting I attended a single speaker talked continuously for ¾ of the meeting, constantly expressing the lack of time and the need to move on – this is called “pushing the agenda”.

Taking charge of the minutes – and constantly not reporting the views in the record of people who do not fit into this pushed agenda.

Packing and controlling the agenda of each meeting, then pushing through this agenda, leaving no time or space for differing views.

Then when the inevitable rebellion happens blocking this procedurally in till it becomes irrelevant to the outcome of the project. Nitpicking might be a good way of describing this blocking. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micromanagement is used as weapon to stop productive open organising and to shut down process outside of the “pushed agenda”. 

Its hard to put your finger on what is wrong at the start of this process but as you go along it is soon made clear that it is a deep intolerance, a lack of trust and narrowness of vision that verges on stupidity.

As one of the core organisers of the RMC conference highlighted it is very hard to change this behaver, some back ground reading on the problems http://www.ec-online.net/knowledge/articles/control.html 

Issues that make this behaver more of a problem:

* Lack of solidarity among the organising group

* Unbalance of knowledge of the core differencet approaches in the RMC this has manifested as lack of understanding of technological change.

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Comments
Paul Spencer This is only a surface level understanding of the psychology of a control freak. To reiterate the story of desire for control all the time only goes to strengthen the existence of this character in our groups. I think it's more useful to look at the underlying issues, which are probably things such as the feeling of powerlessness that comes over us when we start to face the weight of history and the momentum of convention that drives "the way thigns are" forward. (Just to name one.) I think apparent "personality problems" spring up persistently in groups that deprioritise looking after each other in favour of tangible political outcomes.
Yesterday at 07:11 · Like · 1 person


John Hoggett Yes, my therapy and group work experience says that if you drop the agenda and look at how the group is getting on, you eventually get a better outcome because people if you do that eventually you get a group that cares for each other quite deeply. You all came together for a reason so that will emerge and then you can make plans and implement them.
Yesterday at 08:59 · Like

John Hoggett The group that I am working with (and challenging quite seriously) has what is called, Founders Syndrome, a particular version of this. It has been going on for as long as I have been on the committee (1.5 years) and for a long time before that. The founder makes just about all the decisions. The committee is bored as he rabbits on, stopping other contributing, and then arguments emerge as different points of view are raised. Someone then smooths it over and we move forward an inch at at time, but the underlying problem is not resolved. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founder%27s_syndrome

Founder's syndrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org
Founder's syndrome, sometimes called Founderitis[1][2], is a label normally used...
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Yesterday at 09:05 · Like ·

John Hoggett Sometimes pointing out the dynamics helps (ie how we treat each other in the group) but it has to be done from a moderatly disinterested point of view, which is why an outside consultant can help. If you are frustrated that the agenda is not being dealt with you risk getting into a battle. Sometimes pointing out how it is perpetuated can help, but it is risky (so I need to point out to my committee how my Founder uses the word, "We" or "The Office" to mean a mythical group of people who are not in the room at the time who are lending wieght to his argument when in fact he really means he has not done something before and does not want to do it now).
Yesterday at 09:16 · Like

John Hoggett Putting names and groups on the blog seems potentially infalmatory. Have you considered the risk to yourself? Do you have the support you might need to deal with the back lash from people who feel exposed and take it personally? I sometimes like a bit of a barny myself, especially after sitting in a frustrating committee for months, but sometimes it just leads to flaming rows and then there is a risk that the group explodes and people leave or it ends.
Yesterday at 09:20 · Like
Hamish Campbell Not shore, am not naming any individual or even the groups involved?
Yesterday at 09:27 · Like

John Hoggett You have named some groups, it depends on how long they stopped working and if it will raise those discussions again. At the post climate camp discussions on how to go forward there are ghosts that infuse the discussions -worries that the old enmities will arise again in future projects (I was not involved much in the old climate camp process so I don't know what they were or who was involved but I can sense the worries and so people are really concerned about "consensus" and how to deal with difficult conflicts, but I think a lot of it about trying to avoid those old hurtful arguments). It might be important to name some as it makes it more real, it just depends on how much distance there is between you and them and if you feel ok about doing it.
Yesterday at 09:35 · Unlike · 1 person

Richard Climber thx 4 this work. useful stuff
23 hours ago · Like

John Hoggett yeah sure, put it on the blog. It is hard work challenging this sort of stuff. It is driven by intense fear of catastrophe from the controller, leading to a lack of trust in others, so the response to challenging it can be pretty gruesome. It can so easily descend into personal back-biting, talking it over in public might help me and others.
21 hours ago · Like
Posted on 22/09/11 11:17.