The Future of Work: Noded

Noded

Recently, I’ve been talking to many local journalists about the unfolding implosion of the newspaper industry and its implications for their profession.

As the industry struggles to adapt to a world which is moving onto the web, journalists are not only learning to blend social media with traditional reporting, but as UK-based multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook explains, some are also exploring how distributed work teams could replace the newsroom.

Westbrook’s piece introduces the philosophy of Noded working: principles for forming distributed teams for particular projects.

The Noded concept is explained in a book. A downloadable preview describes the philosophy as:

“A group of individuals, often but not necessarily geographically distant, that come together to form temporary or recurring project teams. Unlike ‘distributed teams,’ Noded teams work for a wide range of clients and any member of a Noded team can take the lead to bring in work, manage work and choose their team members.”

Delving deeper, the Noded philosophy can be summarized as seven discrete principles:

  1. Personality — Individualism is celebrated, enabling all members of a Noded team to define their own values and vision, but with a shared agenda.
  2. Team — Each member is treated as an independent business owner or freelancer. Collaboration is driven by the needs of each project, often involving various combinations of members.
  3. Leadership & Roles — There are no fixed roles. Traditional team leadership is replaced by project leadership, likely rotating between members who bring in the business.
  4. Goals — There’s no collective group goal, only a range of individual member goals, which together form a kind of autonomy with shared purpose.
  5. For Everyone — Anyone from employees of large companies to freelancers and indie workers can be part of a Noded team.
  6. No Branding — A noded team isn’t branded discretely, but is a representation of the brands of each member, accompanied by an icon illustrating the Noded nature of the group.
  7. Means Business — Noded teams are formed for business purposes.

The Noded philosophy seems to codify many of the existing principles of freelancers who work as part of project teams, defining a set of structures for establishing loosely coupled joint ventures.

Though many web workers are likely already members of Noded-like teams — whether they are aware of it or not — there’s something useful about having the Noded philosophy expressed that, now articulated, makes it easier to understand how to form project teams that cross organizational and disciplinary boundaries.

The Noded philosophy is analogous to co-working in many ways, with one major difference. Where the originators of co-working explicitly encourage others to modify and extend their values, the people behind the Noded concept appear to be establishing sole ownership over the philosophy and seeking to establish their own brand. This is understandable, but somewhat in contrast to their own stated beliefs.

Do your working practices already follow the Noded principles?

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