Self Organisation
10 min

The Birth of an All-Star Team - How Gaianet Helped Samenzorg from Stagnation to Full Speed Ahead

Published on
July 4, 2023

Unclear organizational structures, lengthy meetings, undefined agreements and miscommunications within the team. This was how Gaianet found Samenzorg upon arrival.

At the closing of the 6 month period, all tensions were cleared, work and social agreements were installed, the operation was making significant headway and the members felt like a team more than ever before.

Operations and Governance

Meeting time reduced from 3+ hours to 90 minutes. Meeting items processed increased from a few in the beginning to 20+ at the end of the period (in just 90 minutes).

Decisioning time was reduced from taking a whole meeting for 1 item or less, to just a few minutes per item. Some decisions were impossible to make at the start, whereas at the end many decisions were made autonomously by role fillers, asynchronous from the weekly meeting, resulting in a significant increase in operational output.

At the start there were no governance records. At the end, all members were holding clearly defined roles, accountabilities and domains.

“Now we know we can, thanks to you.” — Dr. Kris Gaublomme

Human Connection

From misunderstandings and stagnation to harmony and progress. Reorganization of roles and 10+ new members welcomed. Gaianet created training materials for newcomers to bring them up to speed.  

Five new meeting structures were introduced to improve human connection.

At the end of the period members felt confident that the organization could continue without support, whereas in the beginning members were feeling frustrated with the lack of progress.

“Self-organization is about roles and building an organization, but for me it felt so much like building a strong team. — Jean-Marie Cortoos

Project Management

Few clearly defined projects at the start to 25+ completed projects and 30 clearly defined projects in progress at the end of the period.

Gaianet offered project management training and implementation to track the work being done in the organization. At the end, each project had one single owner responsible for its completion, whereas at the start this was unclear.

Several documents were created by Gaianet to help Samenzorg create proper project definitions. The result: clear purpose, story, deliverables and milestones for each project.

Samenzorg circle project board in Nestr

Other Results

  • 9 new meeting structures introduced
  • All members became leading in their own work
  • Total operational output went from near enough zero, to light speed
  • Asking for consensus no longer the default
  • Training of a facilitator, a secretary and a circle lead
  • Trained members to work with tensions
“You did it with your heart. That was received with gratitude.” — Dr. Jones

Full Report - Self Organization Support for Samenzorg

First Contact

Samenzorg approached Gaianet in March 2022 for marketing support. They wanted to spread the message about their organization to a wider audience. It soon became clear that their needs were different.

Organizational Scan

Through a quick scan (meeting health check) it became clear that there was little structure in place to guide the operations or to make decisions. During the weekly meetings only a few topics were processed and very little was decided. The team meetings went at least an hour over the scheduled time, with still many uncompleted agenda items at the end.

Misunderstandings between members limited the group to move forward effectively. New ideas and opinions kept coming but did not lead to clear next actions or projects, due to undefined decisioning structures. There was a concern about the delivery of services to the paying members of Samenzorg. All members felt that projects should be moving forward faster - some were getting impatient and frustrated.

Start of the Program

A proposal for a 3 month period with clear rules of engagement for all team members (active participation), was accepted by Samenzorg on the 18th of May 2022.

A resonance meeting was facilitated, allowing all parties to speak openly, to hear each other out and find each other anew. From there on it became clear what was needed to speed things up: faster decision making and clear roles to reduce ambiguities and increase operational output.

From Consensus to Consent

All stakeholders gave consensus to work as a team and distribute authority among the team members. Gaianet created personalized training material to introduce role-based work and consent-based decision making in order to speed up the operations and the governance of Samenzorg.

By integrating objections instead (consent) of finding agreement (consensus), decision time went down from one item taking up a whole meeting of two hours, to only a couple of minutes per item. This significantly increased operational output.

The Samenzorg team committed to one 90 minute meeting per week, with a requirement of four hours of additional work per member. It helped all members to decide what is their best role and position within the organization, and where they could best spend their time on. This led to a reorganization of key figures, and moved things forward instantly.

Samenzorg celebration

Setting up Roles and Accountabilities

The team was asked to write down all the work that was being done on a weekly basis. This work was then grouped in roles by Gaianet and introduced via governance processes, to energize people to roles.

During this process the team was being trained in the basic principles of self-organization by the Gaianet team. Within two governance meetings the roles and accountabilities covered all the current work.

“I really believe that this is a good way to learn to work together in a different way. That is what we all need, to get to that New World.” — Karen de Wilde


Two new tools were introduced: for video conferencing, and to keep track of governance records, projects and to-do’s. Gaianet negotiated a deal with Nestr. They offered a lifelong license for Samenzorg to use Nestr for free.

3 Month Mark

In only three months, processed agenda items had increased from a few in 2+ hours, to 10-15 per meeting, in less than 90 minutes. All this was realized while the team was working only part time on the project. Three new core contributors arrived to fill gaps in the organization, and an additional eight members joined to work on smaller tasks.

There was still a feeling of little progress by the team. Gaianet offered to intensify its support, facilitating two meetings per week of 90 minutes each. Samenzorg received additional sponsoring which made this possible. The focus of the second period was to install project management, improve governance and operational effectiveness and to train a facilitator, a secretary and a circle lead.

Project Management

Several working documents were created to help all contributors define and propose clear projects with user story, purpose, deliverables and milestones. This created a massive increase in operational output. One breakthrough mindset shift for the team was; ‘there are no group projects, only individual project owners’. This called all members to take full responsibility for their work, which led to a big personal transformation for many of them (see testimonials).

Samenzorg project board to transparently track work

Purpose and Strategy for the Circle

Gaianet supported purpose and strategy definitions to guide the circle. This was done in four hour work sessions. The complete Samenzorg team participated which led to an improvement in alignment. After these processes the team felt much more connected in their work. One member was trained to monitor and update the purpose and strategy for the circle on an ongoing basis.

Feedback, Resonance and Celebration

In the second period we introduced several meeting structures to improve the human connections. We basically implemented the Gaianet Operating System in its full form.

A lot of time has gone into the training of the mindset of all stakeholders involved. Personal feedback was given to each other to improve peer learning, and open sharing circles were used to release any kind of tension that was not addressed during operational meetings. Celebration rituals were introduced to look back, reflect and share gratitude for all the achievements.

Next to personal connection, personal growth and professional growth, the team learned to move as a whole by supporting each other at the professional and personal level.

Capacity Building

Gaianet provided several internally developed processes for recruitment and team building. This helped Samenzorg build capacity within its new structures. A recruiter and team building role was introduced which started to run projects to bring in more people. The team therefore grew with an additional 10 members over a 6 month period.

6 Month Mark

Staggering results for a part-time team working on a voluntary basis:

  • Weekly operational effectivity improved by factor 10+
  • Non-rivalrous governance process implemented
  • Clearly defined roles and accountabilities
  • Project definition, monitoring and execution installed
  • Tooling for all organizational needs implemented
  • Facilitator, secretary and circle lead trained
  • All members became leading in their own work
  • Trained members to sense and respond, working with tensions
  • Asking for consensus no longer the default
  • Meeting time reduced from 3+ hrs to 90 mins
  • Team output from 2-3 items to 20+ processed per meeting in half the time
  • 9 new meeting structures introduced
  • Decision time reduced from forever, to only a few minutes per item
  • The operational output went from near enough zero, to light speed, over a period of just 6 months, with volunteers working only part-time.

The testimonials say it all. The team was incredibly grateful for the whole period. All members transformed at a deep personal level and will continue to do so in their work for Samenzorg, because of all the evolutionary processes in place.

“You persevered, regardless of what was going on. You remained purely yourself and I think that is a real example for the New World. I thought it was fantastic.” — Sonja Vervoort

This article was written by Gaianet and initially posted on their blog. If you and your organisation would like to go through a transition like described above, reach out to them. And if you wish to use Nestr as the tool for your decentralised collaboration, Sign-up here.

Our latest musings and adventures
Subscribe to our blog to receive updates on our latest updates, client stories and AI adventures.

Featured projects include site rebuilds, templates,
landing pages, components, styles guides, etc.

Booyah! The first newsletter will go out early next week.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.