The courses that we hold all have an organizational structure that mimics natural systems. The success of the course depends upon agreements made within the organizational structure. The ‘8 shields model ‘ developed by Jon Young and associates is one such model that we are using here at Spiral Ridge Permaculture.
Eight Shields Organization Model
This model assumes a heterachical team – a network of people who work on common goals, in which each person has the same “horizontal” position of power and authority, but each is responsible for different sets of “natural” elements. Each member of the leadership team is accountable to the overall team. Each member is assumed to be independently responsible – to be making and keeping agreements about what they will do to drive toward the common goals.
The 8 Shields or Directions presents a “natural” or “organic” organizational scheme. Some communitarians and others routinely “Call” or “Invoke the Directions” as a way of grounding their gatherings to the natural world.
The impetus for this specific “rendering” of the 8 Shields Model was to help organize the work for a large event. Each of the 8 Directions or Shields is intended to be a natural clustering that would be useful for the leadership as we grouped actions and responsibilities. There will be overlap and ambiguity between roles. Part of the job of the Core Team is to resolve some of this ambiguity and clarify who’s doing what.
Core Team: This will be a team of up to six individuals, each of whom will have primary responsibility for one or more of the six shields (for this team, we will not have people for the SE or NW). Each member will hold their pole positions during group discussions. Some people may sign up for a particular shield and need to step back if they find they are unable to make the required deliverables – hopefully our communications will be open enough that people will step up or back as appropriate. We will endeavor to recruit sufficient people and communicate enough so that roles can be shifted to others as required with minimal disruption.
Extended Team: This broader team will consist of the Core Team members plus others who are helping with or advising on the event. To fulfill the responsibilities associated with a particular shield may require more energy than will be available from a single person. This energy will come from both other members of the core leadership team and members of an extended leadership team. Whole sub-teams will be formed for periods of the more labor-intensive efforts, e.g. a Facilities Team for setup, etc.
The 8 Shields
East: Spring (Beginnings)
The East is about getting things started, about getting people to the event.
East: Concrete Tasks
- Identifying potential sponsors
- Preparing marketing communications
- The Entrance
- Greeting; Working the Door
- Toxic sweetness
- Phony sales attitudes
- Jump to West, excited about the new and immediately starts training it
East tasks are especially critical throughout the earliest phases of the project and we need to identify a strong East leader ASAP. Portions of this work can be done off-site, but as the event approaches, onsite energy will be required. It is also vital to have sufficient back-up for this person so that a hand-off can be done if required.
South East: Future (What’s Next)
The South East is about helping address blocks to the event’s success.
South East: Energetics
- Overcoming personal blocks
- What’s next – after the event?
- Clarity of vision
South East: Concrete Tasks
- Programming evaluation from motivational point of view
- Planning take-away materials
- Planning next steps beyond event – other NW events, follow-up
South East tasks help ensure that people are motivated and that “What’s Next?” or “therefore?” questions have clear answers.
South: Summer (Hard Work)
The South is about implementation – making the work happen.
- Attention to detail
- Joyful, hard work
- In the thick of it
South: Concrete Tasks
- Material production/handling
- Handling/tracking the money
- Onsite logistics
- Tunnel vision, needs to listen/remain open
South tasks include much of the detailed, “paper” work which is required for a successful event. These tasks connect and support all other directions.
South West: Earth (Grounded Support)
The South West provides the event’s core grounding.
South West: Energetics
- Connection to the earth
- Nurturing and physical caretaking
- Timeless wandering
- Downtime, relaxation and play
South West: Concrete Tasks
- Physical space and site needs
- Facilities selection/rental
- Event setup
- Event breakdown/cleanup
- Meals and Refreshments
South West: Hazards
- Lost in the hammock – never leaves bed
South West tasks are mostly physical, involving the facilities and food for attendees. Identifying the facilities will be an early deliverable for this role.
West: Autumn (Presenting)
The West is about sharing…
- Community Building – bringing people together
- Sharing gifts
- Reflection/Seeking Truth
- Sharing stories & teaching
- Harvesting – sharing fruits of labor
West: Concrete Tasks
- Leading workshops, panels, etc.
- Organizing presenters
- Introducing speakers
- Making announcements
- Visible onsite leadership
- Too much presenting, not enough relating
West tasks focus on the programming, the actual content of the event. West leadership will include any presenters at the event.
North West: Healing (Connection)
The North West is about deep connecting.
North West: Energetics
- Deep connection
North West: Concrete Tasks
North West tasks include building relationship between the event team and various constituencies, including presenters, sponsors, and, through everything else, the event attendees.
North West Hazards might be over-extension, too much focus on others at cost of self-care
North: Winter (Coordination)
The Winter is about providing vision and overall coordination.
- Vision and purpose
- Oversight and big picture
- Wisdom and Elderhood
- Perspective and Gratitude
North: Concrete Tasks
- Organizational Overview
- Recruiting the Leadership Team
- Organizing our work and group – the wiki
- Managing the project schedule
- Leadership team communications
- Overall Budget
- Connecting the dots
- Meeting and Event Debriefs
- Becoming Overwhelmed
- Trying to do everything, not delegating
North tasks are about organizing and integrating and providing feedback on the whole.
North East: Heavens (Spirit Support)
North East is about supporting the spirit.
North East: Energetics
- Internal community-building
- Organizing team Vibes Watcher
- Connection with Spirit and Mystery
North East: Concrete Tasks
- Meeting Openings/Closings
- Event Opening/Closing
- Mediation amongst event organizing team
- Emotional care-giving
North East: Hazards
- Not grounded
- Head in the clouds
North East tasks help ensure the team is caring and cared for. That everybody is getting what they need.
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