How can we practice at small scale that isn’t just a race for 1000x?

My needs and curiosity is about wise innovative organization design at the local and small scale – outside the huge systems and venture capitalism that, right now especially, needs alternatives.

I live and work in the biggest city in Canada’s north. Whitehorse is around 32k folks. The Yukon Territory is just above 40k.

Both these numbers are rounding errors in a Facebook algorithm. Not a “market” by global standards.

We’re also at the front line of climate change. We’re low density, high isolation community. We are an edge case.

And, we’re a Territorial capital with around 40% direct government employment.

The NGO/citizen ratio is often commented on.

There is little history or capacity for philanthropy and while in-kind local sponsorship levels are very high, cash is hard to find.

Many NGO’s are almost entirely government funded. This is sometimes critiqued, but in times of COVID, it means we’re able to continue service provision and keep folks employed.

The last boom in organization creation and/or consultancy happened in the era when local NGO’s were told to behave like large corporations and to comply with government wings that could see no difference between an international gold mining org and a small arts org in terms of reporting, over-site and administrative load.

Our organizational models are stuck in Roberts Rules and over-subscribed Board of Directors and volunteers.

Never mind staffing in a location with a cost of living approaching Vancouver or Toronto, a lack of rental housing and a government sector that pays 150% the wages my arts organization can afford.

Also the internet is terrible up here. 7x the cost for 1/7 the service.

So, within that, how does the wisdom of OD apply?

We need more organization and social wisdom and grace because of the small scale – often precarious and messy but also specific and invaluable. (us cool kids call it “emergent”)

And almost entirely ignored by the “thought leadership”/globalized consultancy of OD – because, as above, there’s no “market” there.

And yet the strength of nations and societies rely on how the organization of folks working together in these communities respond and thrive.