The Power of Voluntary Cooperation


There’s a simple case that illustrates these points nicely: music.


Of course, playing with a handful of musicians is very different from playing in a 200 person orchestra. And running a small startup is different from running a 200 or 2000 person company.

Musicians in a jazz band coordinate 1:1 with each other, directly
Musicians in an orchestra coordinate through a score and a signal leader

No single configuration — transform by context

The configuration in which the whole orchestra plays together isn’t the whole story either. Before playing together, each player may need time alone with the music. Now the strongest relationship is between the player and the score, ignoring all the other players. This is how the player builds trust in the plan and in self. “Can I even do it?”

Rehearsal mode ignores the other musicians — start as a gas, come together as a perfect crystal


Small jazz groups are where players go to show off. You don’t try to show off in an orchestra. Playing as a single organism is about keeping oneself in check, not about indulging in displays of daring and prowess.



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Mark Burgess

Mark Burgess


@markburgess_osl on Twitter and Instagram. Science, research, technology advisor and author - see Http:// and Https://