I've always been fascinated by group cohesion. When a group has a high level of cohesion, it can out compete other groups. Often times cohesive military groups will even be able to conquer none-cohesive enemy groups several magnitudes their own size. I'm sure J. Durden can attest to the power of cohesion from his life in the Marine Corps, a highly cohesive group.
I'm going to start a brainstorm of ways to create group cohesion within CoAlpha Brotherhood. Some of these ideas will be easy to apply, some wont. Some ideas will be virtual in nature while others will require in person initiatives. Quite a few ideas here will be redundant, meaningless or fluff. A few ideas here may be simple and valuable adjustments though. If we can find ways to bring us closer as a group, we'll grow stronger. I'll try breaking down group cohesion ideas into relevant categories.
1. Standardized naming convention for forum members.
This could be first letter of first name and whole last name, initials, or some other combo based on real names. fschmidt and j. durden, already basically do this. I've not written my name for privacy concerns. Perhaps we should make a rule requiring real name as forum name upon membership request. This would serve as a first step towards trusting members and willing to sacrifice personal liberties for the group. This will also serve as a way to weed out trolls.
2. Name tags.
On several forums I go to, groups identify themselves by putting their group acronym in their individual forum names. For example ours would look something like "[CAB]drealm", "[CAB]fschmidt", "[CAB]Ardia" "[CAB]J. Durden", ect. This would make our group more recognizable across multiple forums.
This "tag" could also serve as a requirement upon entry. It would distinguish members from visitors.
We already have a standardized text signature "CoAlpha Brotherhood Dating". This can evolve into a picture signature eventually.
We can eventually create a standard visual avatar.
5. Desktop background.
We can create downloadable backgrounds. These backgrounds could have images, text, ect, which represents CoAlpha Brotherhood.
6. Multi tier membership system.
Right now the organization is egalitarian. We don't really distinguish between members, non-members, ect. Since we're small, we don't need division yet. As we scale though, division will become more relevant. My suggestion for something in the future would be a multi tier membership system. The membership system would have two membership levels. The first level would be registering. The second level would be meeting in person as a yearly conference. A person wouldn't be a full fledged member until they attended at least one yearly conference. This membership system could eventually be reflected with corresponding signatures.
7. Rite of passage.
A rite of passage deserves a thread in and of itself. If we created a multi tier membership system, we could create two rites of passage. The first would be virtual. This could start with a filling out an application, writing an introduction, or as was previously done, commenting on "Sexual Utopia In Power". Another rite of passage can take place by meeting in person. This in person passage could be more secretive and meaningful. The point of a rite of passage is to create a meaningful entry into the group. A meaningful group entry has the side effect of cementing bonds between members by way of a common starting point.
In the future we'll probably draft many documents, which will come to evolve into a constitution of practices for a way of life. This constitution will serve as a secular version of religious laws like Canon law (Christianity), Sharia law (Islam), Halakha law (Jewdism), ect.
Within this constitution I see lots of room for engineering appearance. Engineering our appearance could include clothing etiquette, uniforms, hair cuts, body modification restrictions, ect.
- Annual events.
- Weekly video conferences.
10. Commemorative Items.
- Mouse pads.
11. Certificates for things achieved within group.
- Reading specific books.
Executive summary of the ideas in this post and this post:
Identify three values that the CoAlpha group wants to foster. For example, these values in the Marine Corps are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Once you have these highest-order values, you can scale everything else based off of them.
An aside: My real name is not J. Durden. Just a pen name.
Apologies, my mistake.
I've read and reread your "theory of three" many times. I can't seem to grasp it at even a basic level. This isn't a criticism against the theory or how it's written, I just think it's highly philosophical. I'm not the best at grasping abstract concepts. I prefer working with concrete details. I still applaud your efforts though for attempting to create a theory of super cohesion. This is a monumental undertaking.
My approach takes the lower road. I identify organization which succeed at cohesion and I scavenge these organizations for specific practices. This does not result in a grand overarching theory, but merely a list of examples. Perhaps we can recreate some of these examples within our own organization.
In the case of the Marine Corps there's a number of examples that come to mind:
- Buzz cut.
- Marching songs.
- Crucible (rite of passage).
There's also this, but it was written in the height of my condition so it's not....hmm....tailored for an audience.
I wish I still had my text on organizational communication, because then I'd have a good reference for this discussion, but anyway... The problem with this approach is that it can just as easily create dissent as it can cohesion. People who join the Marine Corps tend to join because they want to be a "Marine" - they have a preconceived notion of what a "Marine" is and what a "Marine" does and this appeals to them. People generally remain "motivated" throughout their training phase: boot camp, Marine Combat Training/School of Infantry, and any follow-on MOS schools. Once they get to the "fleet" (or operating forces), many people lose that motivation. They get fed up with the buzz cut, they think the way the uniform is maintained and inspected is stupid, nobody does marching cadences anymore, and all of us get sick as fuck of people who can't stop talking about boot camp (we all did the crucible, now shut your mouth about it!).
My intuition tells me that this is the result of a failure of leadership. In the fleet, core values are not reinforced. Often times, we didn't even feel like Marines - just cogs in a machine getting taken advantage of on a salaried pay scale. The buzz cut, the uniform, even the marching songs and the crucible are all just trappings and surface indicators of what it means to be a Marine. Many great Marines from the past had different hair cuts, different uniforms, different marching songs, and they didn't have a crucible - yet they were still Marines.
I feel that for any of these things to be effective, there must be a purpose or a good reason why a group should adopt them. (Marines DO take pride in their uniform, but that's also because they tend to know the history of the uniform, and what all the individual components mean - for example, the red stripe on the blue trousers that non-commissioned officers and officers wear signifies the battle of Chapultepec, where NCO and officer casualties were extremely high, something like 90% IIRC.) If all you have are regulations without a heart, all you will build is resentment.
How are core values not enforced? Is there anything done in boot camp but not done in "fleet", which you think would reinforce values?
How does a group with zero history create a meaningful regulation? Do you think meaningful regulations need to evolve over time, or can they be created instantly?
Let me preface by saying that this comes from a maintenance perspective - the Marine Corps has three major roles (infantry, maintenance, and air-wing) and each of these roles has their own culture. Conversations with Marines in other roles (infantry and air-wing) indicate that similar problems exist throughout the Corps, but I can really only speak to my experience on the maintenance side of the house.
In boot camp and Marine Combat Training, you are inundated with the warrior culture of the Marine Corps (and the ethics that go along with that - Honor, Courage, and Commitment). To a certain extent, this is continued at your MOS (military occupational specialty) school, where you will still see things like the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. But here, the shift begins - the focus is less on being a "Marine" and more on learning a trade. When you arrive at your first unit, this is amplified. The Marine Corps begins to feel like a job - with shitty hours and stupid regulations that make little to no sense. (Why do married Marines get paid twice as much and aren't required to conduct "field day" - the weekly hazing event where Marines are kept up until midnight cleaning every inch of the barracks?) You show up to your various shifts, you do your job, and then you go home (and often get drunk).
What is done in boot camp and MCT that is not done in the fleet are guided discussions with small unit leaders about core values and ethical behavior. You generally get experienced combat veterans talking to you about what it means to be a Marine - in this generation or in any in the past - and answering questions about values and ethics. But you can't expect people to internalize those ethics in a period of three or four months, especially not when they are only one of the many components of your training during boot camp and MCT.
Continuing these discussions in the fleet would be a boon, but that's not the only thing that should be done. Marines that positively demonstrate the Core Values should be rewarded as such. They should be the first ones considered for meritorious promotions or prestigious/important billet assignments (billets are basically jobs - a "Company Commander" is a billet that can be held by a variety of ranks, from Chief Warrant Officers to Captains and Majors). Positive reinforcement!
Depends on the group and the group's purpose. For example, a meaningful regulation that could be instantly suggested for this group would be to not associate with or conduct business with feminists. Regulations need to extend naturally from a group's stated purpose and from the group's values (every group has values, but some groups have more clearly defined ones than others).
Focusing on uniforms/hair cuts/marching cadences etc is focusing on style over substance. Create something of substance and the style will naturally evolve from it; style is never the defining element of a truly successful/strong group.
I think I agree. Style can help but it has to be based on substance.
I am not sure what creates group cohesion, but I can venture some guesses. One is shared core values, as suggested by J. Donner. It might be worth starting a thread on that topic. Another is simply time spent together. People who work together tend to develop some connection. And a more intense version of this is dealing with shared stress. Men who fight together in war tend to develop strong bonds. Many team building exercises are based on this idea of shared stress. Anyway, I haven't studied this question, but those are my guesses.
In reply to this post by J. Donner
I guess attending church serves a similar function to guided discussions. Once we have more members, do you think scheduled discussions over something like skype would be an effective way to start creating cohesion?
Yes, it's important to be rewarded for good behavior. I'm not sure what type of rewards CoAlpha Brothhood can offer though. One idea is receiving virtual titles. These titles can be awarded based on post count, studying material, ect. Another idea is giving away commemorative items for time spent in group. I originally thought things like mugs, t-shirts, ect, would be a good idea. But maybe something that's handmade by a group member would be more meaningful.
I think substance will come when we reach a critical mass (50 - 100 virtual members), or when we meet in person.
Yes it's a universal phenomena that cohesion is rapidly accelerated under a) close relationships and b) stress, usually physical in nature. Sports teams develop lots of cohesion this way. Boot camps do too.
If we reach a point where we have both the members and infrastructure to organize annual meetings, these annual meetings can serve as an opportunity to do stressful team building exercises.
I think it's a little premature to be overly concerned with some of these things. We should be more concerned about what we can actually DO before we become concerned with other trappings. And by "do," I mean actions we can take to achieve our objective/mission statement. Building an online culture is well and good, I suppose, but I think the real goal is to have a more tangible subculture. If the plan is to build the online culture and then the real one, then we shouldn't be concerned with things like appearance and uniforms and so forth just yet.
As for stress, I would argue that the stress of living in a feminized society is enough to bond over.
Yes it is.
This makes sense to me.
Right now we're a 100% online/0% offline group. As time moves forward our percentile will shift. Supposing we want to create an "online culture" as a stepping stone to an offline culture, what would an online culture entail?
That is a funny way to phrase things.
In reply to this post by J. Donner
If anything, it should be stress towards a common goal. That stress is the stress of separation and isolation.
Creating artificial stress for a loosely defined group without any clearly delineated values, purposes, or goals (by which I mean immediate, tangible goals that we can work towards) is ill advised.
Boot camp works for the military because everyone in the process knows that the recruits are probably going to be sent to war. Therefore, they subject recruits to all kinds of physical, mental and even moral stress to acclimate them to the hardships of fighting a war. However, these training techniques are highly ineffective in environments where people know they aren't going to go to a war - for example, at my command in Okinawa. We were not deployable there, and yet the command tried to use the same boot camp style tactics to control us, and we all resented the command and dissociated ourselves from the Marine Corps because of it.
Why, aside from a perceived increase in "cohesion," would we want to subject potential CoAlphas to artificial stress?
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