A little epidemic of ex-fringe and peripheral organizations, views and people is going on around us. I use ‘fringe’ and ‘peripheral’ as opposite to core or mainstream, or traditional.
In Spain new political parties barely existing a while ago, are becoming closer and closer to the top in the polls, or at least power brokers. Ciudadanos (‘Citizens’) started in Catalonia and now is national. Podemos ( ‘We can’) similarly on the left. The mayors of Madrid and Barcelona have won their seats from grassroots platforms, not from main political parties.
In the UK, the Scottish National Party (SNP) was a ‘small party’ just ‘yesterday’. Now it has 56 out of 59 seats, a landslide of North Korean magnitude. Jeremy Corbyn leadership of the Labour party defied all predictions of a non-core win. He is the extreme, which may or may not make him extremist. Less noisy, people may not have noticed the existence of a new Women’s Equality Party, which has attracted 40000 members in 3 months.
In the USA, Bernie Sanders ‘democratic socialist’ is making serious noise and has enormous traction. So is Donald Trump, reminding us that even grotesque positions can create that traction. Greece? What’s going on in ‘the periphery’?
New nomadic tribes in the fringe are coming up: platforms of citizens, ‘extreme’ positions, and groups defying social gravitation laws. Right and Left labels are progressively irrelevant.
There is a logic here. We are seeing now in high visible mode, and in the political arena, what a modern theory of Social Mobilization Organization could explain. This is how I explain it. Watch the circle:
Phase 1. The core is tired, even boring; it survives and delivers, but has no traction. Maybe exhausted, predictable, unappealing.
Phase 2. The periphery and fringes self-generate unconventional groups united by a cause. They pull people from the core. This fringe allows for speed, voice, cause and hope. Also for ventilation of frustrations. They are broad church but with high magnet potential.
Phase 3. The fringe and periphery grows in critical mass and voice. It success drives them towards the core. They are now invited to the high table. Left to their own devices, they could become core. If so, they will be eventually ‘tired, boring and surviving’. Back to Phase 1
The fringes have not many mechanisms to recalibrate themselves: how to keep the traction of the fringe and periphery whilst progressing to main. But here is at least one mechanism: the fringe within then fringe; the movement within the movement. I have not seen much of this yet.
Translation to Organizational and Company Life , beyond politics: Allow fringe structures with different rules of the game. The core is predictable. The edge will act as magnet, generate innovation and accelerate the learning. If you try to domesticate the edge and make it core, you’ll lose. For every core, predictable, well structured system, design some alternative ‘outside the edges, or ‘edge’, platforms.
This is a big(er) conversation… to continue in the next days and weeks.