Do Independent Scientologists need a Central Organization?

(Originally posted by OldAuditor on May 23, 2010 – comments are included.)

I think this is an entirely proper questions to ask ourselves as we approach the tipping point where more people will choose to become independent than endure the suppression that comes with being a cult member.

Why have a central organization unless it can provide a service that individual practitioners can’t do alone?

I listed out a few major functions that exist in the CofS today and tried to assign responsibility to fit the needs of the independent field.  I created the following table and endeavored to fill in the blanks. After one pass, a pattern seemed to emerge that indicated a strong central organization was unnecessary.

Take a look at this table and see what you think:

(A project team is formed by individual practitioners working remotely.)
FUNCTION                                            CENTRALIZED             LOCALIZED

Public Relations                                     by a project team        By Practitioner
Legal Rudiments                                    Advisory team             Practitioner
Technical Research                               Project team                 Practitioners
Organizational research                      Project team                 Sign off by practitioners
Legal Threats                                           Project team                  supported by Practitioners
Best practices                                          Project team                  sign off by practitioners
Handling Complaints                           advisory group              Practitioners
Auditor Certification                           project teams                  Apprenticing
Qual Functions                                       Regional resources       Practitioners
Network coordination                         Regional reps
Practice organization                           advisory group               Practitioners
Pricing of services                                 advisory group                Practitioner

After taking a few swings at the idea of organizing the field, I saw a pattern emerging for me anyway.
Any central function should be performed by teams made up of networked  individuals. I see little need for a central organization with a large permanent staff. Web video conferences are easy to organize and provide face-to-face contact for people working on projects together.

The project teams are remotely based and consist of individual practitioners or family members who work on specific projects via web-based meetings and email. Project leaders are elected, as are project secretaries. All work is done by individual practitioners or their delegates.

Who pays them? Who pays people who work on Linux or any of a dozen open source projects. They volunteer to serve because they need something that they cannot produce alone. They also get credit for working on the final product and they get to steer the development in a direction that makes sense to their organization or themselves.

The way we will probably develop this organization is by using an organic model. A problem will arise and a few people will team up to handle the problem and disseminate the results. They will immediately become the go-to guys for handling the fallout from handling the problem and after a few iterations, they will become a standing committee to deal with the same or similar problems.

If the product of the team effort is something that can be exchanged for money, it is easy to set up a PayPal donation button to cover the expenses of  producing and shipping the product whether it is a downloadable file or a booklet or a package of handy forms.

If the product does not require a team effort, I would expect that the practitioner who develops a product for other practitioners will market it himself. Of course, the practitioner might also license the central org to market and distribute his product and get royalties without taking himself off production lines.

As the independent field grows, there will be a growing demand for new meters, distance auditing accessories, and technical documentation. There are plenty of independents who can handle the manufacture and distribution of these items and who are not auditors. I think there are many auditors who will wish to continue auditing and are willing to have others help them make money by selling the products they have developed.

I can also see business people in the independent field being willing to partner up with auditors so that the products they manufacture and sell have the approval and support of working practitioners.

Note that these last examples do not require a central organization but they will eventually cause a central organization to form as business people tend to form national organizations by teaming up with competitors to control and stabilize growing markets and to ward off government interference.

The bottom line is that there is no place for a central organization unless it can carry its weight by helping individual practitioners make money.

DM has never run a business so he does not understand the vital necessity of keeping that exchange in. The CofS Int Management core talks of booming the church, but every action cannibalizes the individual orgs and drives their stats down and penalizes producing staff.

A central organization that becomes a burden on the actively producing parts of the organization, will eventually be overthrown.

If we have a central organization, it must remain lean and mean and act in a way that makes it absolutely essential to the growth of individual practitioners.

Over to you…

Number of views:325

4 Comments

PlainOldTHetan  on May 29th, 2010 Edit comment

My temptation would be to add:

Meter manufacture
and repair | Regional Group |Independent Practicioner
Recorded and Printed
Materials | Regional Group |Independent Practicioner

BLiP  on June 2nd, 2010 Edit comment

Far be for me to offer advice – but – why give the cult a target to aim at? There’s a lot to be said for a Fabian approach, at least for the time being.

OldAuditor  on June 2nd, 2010 Edit comment

Your caution is good advice.
I was writing this taking a longer view.
The CofS will not be an issue in a year or so and we will need a central function, if not a brick and mortar headquarters.

You will notice that most of the functions can be performed by project teams operating through web connections.

John P.  on October 10th, 2011 Edit comment

Your parallels to the open source movement is quite perceptive. I have thought for some time that this would be the ideal way to organize the independent movement.

I have studied the open source software movement and related “collaborative innovation” projects professionally. I can tell you that the key thing to make a decentralized organization work is a governance mechanism that shows how to resolve disputes. Everyone must agree to work within the dispute resolution mechanism — that’s more important for the long-term health of the organization than winning an argument (sort of like a marriage).

Typically, if there is a debate about a measurable issue (like whose e-meter is better) it is solved by a “bake-off” to demonstrate proposed solutions, and then it is pretty easy to decide whose solution is better. But the key is a voting mechanism that is fair and transparent.

Other issues work by building consensus.

Another organization whose governance may be relevant is Alcoholics Anonymous. For 80 years they have kept the organization on track and successful, serving over 2 million current members, with a very small paid staff in New York. And their program works better than almost anything else in drug/alcohol rehab.

John P.

2 thoughts on “Do Independent Scientologists need a Central Organization?

  1. Axiom

    Although the tendency is to want a central group for support, I think we must steer ourselves away for that urge. What seems to be happening in the current independent movement is that many smaller “associations” are forming that have different therapy approaches in common. There seems to be at least half a dozen different approaches that seem to be at least somewhat united.

    With that said, I feel that the most valuable and logical approach is that the groups with similar therapy approaches share information on what works and what doesn’t. Also co-operate with each other and not get into the pissing contest that the Cof$ enjoys so much. Find what process gives the most gain per hour and share it. Although this may be a business to some, other practitioners are not the enemy.

    One of my beliefs is that we need to (at least somewhat) work together for the betterment of the public. The problem with a centralized entity is that it tends to gobble up too many resources and is not nearly as productive as one individual or a small group. I have found this in my own businesses that I have run. It all looks good from the outside, but internally it was loosing money and pissing people off.

    Whatever direction the independent field goes, the main impetus must be the client/customer. That is much easier to do as a small group or individual. And if you recall you history, that is the way this whole thing started way back in 1950 with lots of field auditing. But then no one really knew what they were doing. That is different now.

  2. David St Lawrence Post author

    I am in agreement with you. Small groups that are loosely aligned to share information and resources seems the best way to go.

    I support an Open Source approach to research and development of better technology to help people achieve their goals. There are a growing number of Facebook groups that are moving in that direction. FreeScientologist and Free Scientology are two that come to mind.

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