How to Change the World by Building a Swarm

Nina Misuraca Ignaczak at Shareable: “In 2005, Rick Falvinge of Sweden launched a new political party, the Swedish Pirate Party, on a platform to reform copyright and patent laws. It’s now the third largest party in Sweden, it won two European Parliament seats in 2009, and it inspired the International Pirate Party movement with representation in over 60 countries. The rise of the party has been remarkably fast. In Swarmwise: The Tactical Manual to Changing the World, Falvinge describes how he did it with a unique, decentralized organizing architecture that leverages the power of technology and the crowd to spread ideas and work across diverse groups of people.
Falvinge defines a swarm as: “a decentralized, collaborative effort of volunteers that looks like a hierarchical, traditional organization from the outside. It is built by a small core of people that construct a scaffolding of go-to people, enabling a large number of volunteers to cooperate on a common goal in quantities of people not possible before the net was available.”
The key is decentralization. The founder must set the vision and goal and then release control of messaging and branding, delegate as much authority as possible, and embrace the fact that the only way to lead is to inspire.
A swarm has a shared direction, values and method. Informal leadership is strong, and focuses on everyone’s contributions. The main benefits to swarm organization are:

  • Speed of operation
  • Next-to-nothing operating cost
  • Large number of devoted volunteers
  • Open and inviting to anyone
  • No recruitment process
  • Multiple solutions tried in parallel
  • Transparent by default

Step One: Find an idea to change the world that people can get excited about.
This is critical. The idea must be a game-changer- so exciting, revolutionary and provocative that it will sell itself. Your idea must have four key attributes to be worthy:

  • Tangible: You must have concrete goals with specifics on when this goal should happen, where it will happen, and how it will happen. In the case of the Swedish Pirate Party, the goal was to elect an open-information platform candidate to the European Parliament in the next election. Period.
  • Credible: You must present the goals as realistic and doable.  The key is to strike a balance between a change-the-world idea and pure fantasy.
  • Inclusive: There must be a role and room for participation for everyone, and everyone must see not only how they will personally benefit form the idea but also ho they can be a part of making it happen.
  • Epic: The idea must be a big one, capable of changing how things are done on a broad scale, and people must see the scope of the idea’s impact when it is presented.

Step Two: Do the Math

All versions of the book (including free ones, of course) are available at the bottom of this page.”