Rachel Anderson and Gene Koo’s Network Analysis of the Obama Campaign
October 15, 2008
In typically thought-provoking fashion, Gene Koo has jumped in to offer a response to my half-baked thinking about the network structure of the Obama campaign. He gives us this graphic:
He also explains it:
The superstructure of the campaign is traditional, top-down command-and-control (with information flowing upwards, of course). At the roots the campaign — as is typical for most volunteer efforts — comprises ad hoc mesh networks. It’s in inserting strong, tightly-knit teams that the campaign has made the greatest innovation. Each team, as a whole, functions like a paid staffer, with similar responsibilities and accountability.
Gene draws on Rachel Anderson’s experience with Camp Obama as well as Zack Exley’s HuffPo article to support his analysis of the Neighborhood Teams (illustrated as the “local team” in the graph) and, if we accept Exley’s analysis at face value, I think this hits the nail on the head.
If nothing else, I suspect Gene’s graph reflects the system’s design as it was envisioned by Marshall Ganz and others. Nevertheless, I have my suspicion that the neighborhood teams are somewhat inconsistent in reality (just a hunch, no data to back it up).
Whether my hunches are confirmed or not, the degree to which actual practices deviate from the system’s design will help determine the success of campaign’s efforts. It may also determine the extent to which this campaign serves as a model for future organizing efforts.
In relation to Gene’s diagram, I’m also curious about how to account for the effect of technologically-enhanced data collection and social networking capacities that the campaign is also utilizing. Does this operate outside or alongside the organizational network diagram?
Updated: My apologies to Rachel Anderson for not providing proper attribution in the original version of this post. I have altered the title and text of this post to reflect Gene’s comment (below). Since the post has already been published, I’m going to leave the URL unchanged, however.