GAME B, THE STARFISH and The GRATEFUL DEAD are experiments in self-organizing collective intelligence. As such, what they become is entirely a function of what they can do — that is, it is a function of the capacity of its collective intelligence to overcome the challenges in changing the financial structures and the incentive structures in consciousness, health, wellness, and education. The Starfish represents the decentralized network. It has no head, and its major organs are replicated throughout each arm. Cut it in half and you get two starfish. The importance of GAME B, The STARFISH and The GRATEFUL DEAD is that they represent an entirely new SOCI organism in our landscape. In fact, one that might relate to our legacy forms of collective intelligence in the same way that Homo Sapiens related to Homo Neanderthalensis.

The Grateful Dead is one huge case study in contrarian disintermediation. Most of the band’s many disintermediation innovations were based on doing the exact opposite of what other bands (and record labels) were doing at the time. Instead of obsessing over recording, the Dead became the most popular touring band of their era, selling hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of tickets, and creating a highly profitable GAME B in the process. Without hit records, the Grateful Dead achieved elite success, becoming one of the most iconic rock bands of their era and inventing a brand that democratically included their consumers and literally co-created a lifestyle for Deadheads.

GAME B-like SOCI use the technical capabilities of the blockchain, crypto-tokens and smart-contracts to provide a motivational architecture that can be highly adaptive to the real needs of the SOCI without bottlenecking through some concentrated control structure.

The Development of Self Organizing Collective Intelligences (SOCI)

Different SOCI will resolve challenges through different mechanisms. Some will form relatively centralized nodes (ICANN, Rolling Stone Magazine) that will accelerate problem solving in certain areas — but at the cost of losing some of the generativity and flexibility of decentralization. Others will mutate and proliferate exploring their niche like a slime mold (anarchism and psychedelic music might be a good examples here).

In the end, the development of a SOCI is defined by the challenges it faces, its capacity to surmount those challenges, and the consequences of its solutions on its own further development.

GAME B as a Self Organizing Collective Intelligences (SOCI). As the SOCI develops, the choices that it makes — the solutions that it crafts — become part of its core architecture. “Frozen accidents” in its development, these begin to shape and define its future paths, slowly accreting structure and topography as the SOCI moves from its vague, open and highly creative infancy through adolescence and finally into its mature, effective, but much less creative adulthood.

When you think of disintermediation, what companies come to mind?

· Skype

· Craigslist

· Apache

· The Apache

· Wikipedia

· Burning Man Festival

· eMule

It’s true that each of these companies in one way or another has come to define disintermediation in the digital age. But the practices they’ve been pushing — disintermediation, social networking, giving away products or services, asking for and acting on input from customers pioneered many social media and inbound disintermediation concepts that businesses across all industries use today —

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Robert A. Heinlein


Like Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom explain in the STARFISH AND THE SPIDER A decentralized organization stands on five legs…

The Grateful Dead was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area amid the rise of the counterculture of the 1960s.The founding members were Jerry Garcia(lead guitar, vocals), Bob Weir (rhythm guitar, vocals), Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (keyboards, harmonica, vocals), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals), and Bill Kreutzmann(drums). Members of the Grateful Dead had played together in various San Francisco bands, including Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions and the Warlocks. Lesh was the last member to join the Warlocks before they became the Grateful Dead; he replaced Dana Morgan Jr., who had played bass for a few gigs. Drummer Mickey Hart and nonperforming lyricist Robert Hunter joined in 1967.

Each group is independent and autonomous. Everyone in a group is an equal, each contributing according to ability. Group membership is open and fluid — people come and go as they please. Instead of rules, groups depend on norms and developing trust between individuals. Love it, hate it, or don’t understand it — whatever you may think of it, the Grateful Dead is a name that you remember. The dictionary defines the term as a type of ballad involving a hero who helps a corpse who is being refused a proper burial. For the Grateful Dead, the strange cosmic quality the name evokes — a world beyond consciousness — was perfect. Fast-forward to four decades later and the name seems ideal. The choice of name worked to help advance the Grateful Dead to its widely recognized status as the most iconic band in history.

Circles don’t form on their own. A catalyst is the person who initiates a circle. They develop ideas, lead by example, and inspire others. They then recede into the background, trusting the group to take appropriate action.

Jerome John Garcia (August 1, 1942 — August 9, 1995) was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, best known for his work as the lead guitarist and as a vocalistwith the band Grateful Dead, which came to prominence during the counterculture era in the 1960s. Although he disavowed the role, Garcia was viewed by many as the leader or “spokesman” of the group.

Catalysts have a strong sense of where people fit into their social networks — who people know, how they relate and how they fit into the Catalysts mental map. The Catalyst excels at making connections and forming new circles.

The fuel that drives the Catalyst is the genuine desire to help others.

A Catalysts passion results in action.

The Catalyst is neither pushy nor persuasive. Rather, the Catalyst helps people realize their latent potential.

When people feel heard, when they feel understood and supported, they are more likely to change. A catalyst doesn’t prescribe a solution, nor does he hit you over the head with one. Instead, he assumes a peer relationship and listens intently. You don’t follow a catalyst because you have to — you follow a catalyst because he understands you.

The Catalyst avoids giving advice, because that leads to hierarchy. Instead, the Catalyst inspires others to change.Trust

The Catalyst trusts people to do what is right.

The Catalyst inspires others to work toward a common goal without material reward.

Catalysts accept that decentralization entails ambiguity. They know there are questions that can’t be answered — about the size of the organization, or about exactly who is doing what — and they use this uncertainty as an opportunity to be innovative.

Having lit the fire, the Catalyst gets out of the way, letting people figure out for themselves what to do and how to do it.

The Catalyst’s involvement dwindles as a movement takes off, allowing other people to take the lead and move their relationships forward.

Ideology is the glue that holds a decentralized organizations together. the band is known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, psychedelia, experimental music, modal jazz, country, folk, bluegrass, blues, gospel, reggae, and space rock, for live performances of lengthy instrumental jams, and for their devoted fan base, known as “Deadheads.” “Their music,” writes Lenny Kaye, “touches on ground that most other groups don’t even know exists. These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead “the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world”.

Most successful decentralized organizations launched from a pre-existing, decentralized network. The Merry Pranksters were cohorts and followers of American author Ken Kesey in 1964.

Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters lived communally at Kesey’s homes in California and Oregon, and are noted for the sociological significance of a lengthy road trip they took in the summer of 1964, traveling across the United States in a psychedelic painted school bus called Furthur or Further, organizing parties and giving out LSD. During this time they met many of the guiding lights of the mid-1960s cultural movement and presaged what are commonly thought of as hippies with odd behavior, tie-dyed and red, white and blue clothing, and renunciation of normal society, which they dubbed The Establishment. Tom Wolfe chronicled their early escapades in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test; Wolfe also documents a notorious 1966 trip on Further from Mexico through Houston, stopping to visit Kesey’s friend, novelist Larry McMurtry.

The Champion is an evangelist or salesperson for the group. Champions have excellent people skills, high energy and limitless tenacity. They relentlessly promote the group and its ideas. Promoter Bill Graham had a profound influence around the world, sponsoring the musical renaissance of the ’60s from the epicenter, San Francisco. Chet Helms and then Bill Graham made famous the Fillmore and Winterland Arena; these turned out to be a proving grounds for rock bands and acts of the San Francisco Bay area including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin,

[A decentralized organization] can’t draw upon command-and-control to motivate participants, it needs a strong and ongoing ideology to keep them going. Today’s big winners typically win because of unique business model assumptions, rather than some new technology or complicated improvements. Prime examples include Netflix (vs. Blockbuster) and iPod and iTunes (vs. MP3s and downloading). Like the Grateful Dead, these companies turned the core assumption of how their industry works on its head to create an unlevel playing field for themselves.


GAME B wants Good, enjoyable, and fulfilling lives cannot be achieved through material output of GAME A alone. Indeed, GAME A output can easily endanger human wellbeing, leading to the deterioration of the social relationships and environmental balance upon which wellbeing depends.

Growth has become an end in itself, as a result of which, the true meaning of progress has been lost. If we are to design GAME B to promote wellbeing, it needs to be adaptable, integrative, and empowering. Adaptable, because the new economy must operate like a network, abandoning the conventional vertical structure to expand horizontally, and to build resilience against external shocks through a system of nodes; integrative, because it locates systems of production and consumption within the broader biosphere; and empowering, because its users will take control, rather than performing the passive role of mere ‘consumers.’

GAME B, Blockchain settlement mechanism and other examples of decentralized appliacations and associated technological changes will massively disrupt current economic conditions. a lengthy period of uncertainty about how the facts that underpin it will be restructured, dismantled, and reorganized.

The best uses of the GAME B have to be ‘discovered’. Then they have to be implemented in a real world political and economic system that has deep, established institutions that already service ledgers. That second part will not be cost free.

Ledgers are so pervasive — and the possible applications of the blockchain so all-encompassing — that some of the most fundamental principles governing our society are up for grabs.


To achieve a wellbeing economy, a major transformation of our world view, society and economy are needed to:

1. Stay within planetary biophysical boundaries — a sustainable size of the economy within our ecological life support system.

2. Meet all fundamental human needs, including food, shelter, dignity, respect, education, health, security, voice, and purpose, among others.

3. Create and maintain a fair distribution of resources, income, and wealth — within and between nations, current and future generations of humans and other species.

4. Have an efficient allocation of resources, including common natural and social capital assets, to allow inclusive prosperity, human development and flourishing. A wellbeing economy recognizes that happiness, meaning, and thriving depend on far more than material consumption.

5. Create governance systems that are fair, responsive, just and accountable.



1) Is there someone in charge?

No. Flat structure. Relies on influence rather than control.

2) Are there a headquarters?

No. Location is flexible.

3) If you thump it on the head, will it die?

No. If you take out the leaders, new leaders emerge.

4) Is there a clear division of roles?

No. Anyone can do anything. Units are autonomous.

5) If you take out a unit, is the organization harmed?

No. The network can rebuild itself.

6)Are knowledge and power concentrated or distributed?

Distributed. Information and power are dispersed throughout the network.

7)Is the organization flexible or rigid?

Flexible. The organization is amorphous and fluid, leading to agility. Constantly growing / shrinking / mutating / spreading / dying / re-emerging.

8) Can you count the employees or participants?

No. Membership is fluid and open. Nobody is able to keep track.

9) Are working groups funded by the organization or are they self-funding?

Self-Funding. Individual units are responsible for obtaining and managing funds.

10) Do working groups communicate directly or through intermediaries?

Directly between members. No roads lead to Rome, because there is no Rome.


The Dead pioneered a “freemium” business model, allowing concert attendees to record and trade concert tapes, establishing “taper sections” behind the mixing board where fans’ recording gear could be set up for best sound quality. The Grateful Dead set their music free by allowing and encouraging these tapers. You would have thought that giving their music away would have diminished their success, but actually, it was fuel on the fire. The band removed barriers to their music by allowing fans to tape it, which in turn brought in new fans and grew sales.

The takeaway here is that when we free our content, more people hear about your idea and eventually do business with YOU. The way to reach your marketplace is to create tons of free content like blogs, videos, white papers, and e-books. This is because each piece of content you create attracts links from other websites. When you give content or small pieces of your product away, it attracts a lot more interest and really opens up the top of your disintermediation funnel in a dramatic way.

Do you have people selling versions of your products and services that seem in competition to your direct sales efforts? Maybe the right thing to do is to partner with those entrepreneurs rather than send them a legal notice. While the Grateful Dead also sold their own gear inside, they partnered with the vendor community, resulting in some very creative uses.


Find a balance between being completely flat and being a pyramid. In other words structure is fine provided that it serves what the relationship structure looks like. However, this structure doesn’t mean that everything flows “top down.” Communication and collaboration flows up, down, and side to side. Increasingly, organizations find that they need to embrace decentralization in order to survive. The most effective strategy is, often, to be come a hybrid. This can appear messy, at first, but: When we begin to appreciate their full potential, what initially looked like entropy turns out to be one of the most powerful forces the world has seen.

Traditionally, being big was considered safer than being small. The power that comes from being big outweighed the flexibility that comes from being small. But small size combined with a large network combines the benefits of flexibility and power. New markets are entered easily, and the organization can survive on minimal revenue. Costs are low, but influence is high.


Each new member adds value to the whole network. Starfish organizations benefit more from this “network effect”. The cost of adding new members is tiny, and the value they add benefits everyone. Members stay loyal because they value the network.

· Intrapreneurial: The same spirit, passion, and creativity that entrepreneurs have must also be fostered inside of organizations. Employees should be able to test out ideas, run experiments, pitch new projects, and “run” with the ones that have potential.

· Operates like a small company No meetings about having meetings, and basically operate at the speed of sludge.

· Focuses on “want” instead of “need” This means that in order to attract top talent organizations must create an environment where employees actually WANT to be there instead of assuming that they NEED to be there.

· Mix It up: Organize your disintermediation team in this way: You want someone responsible for “getting found” (filling the top of your funnel), someone responsible for “converting” the folks who are getting pulled in, and someone responsible for “analyzing” the numbers and helping you make better decisions. Look outside your disintermediation department (inside your company) and look outside the disintermediation industry (outside your company) to fill in talent gaps.

In 1968 the Dead hired a fan, Scott Brown, to help them manage their community. Like the best users of Facebook and Twitter today, the group shared small, personal details with their Fan Club. The band also responded directly to personal messages and shared user generated content like artwork with the larger community through their mailing list. The Dead were one of the first to have their own nationwide mailing list that connected them directly with their fans. Decades later, they were one of the early adopters of email.


Let your customers spread your brand

A Grateful Dead concert was about having fun, meeting friends, checking out great music, escaping the everyday, belonging. Each person defined the experience a little differently, and the group defined the whole. There were interesting subgroups wandering along as part of the larger odyssey that was the Grateful Dead experience.

In building a community, the Grateful Dead were willing to give up a large degree of control over how they were defined and instead hand it to their fans. While this approach is highly unusual, it is also often very successful. When organizations insist on operating in a command-and-control environment with mission statements, boilerplate descriptions, messaging processes, and PR campaigns, their strategies can both hamper growth and backfire in execution.

Let your community define you, rather than trying to dictate what’s said — and how — about your company. When you let others define and talk about you, it is more likely that a community will develop.

Put fans in the front row. Unlike nearly every other band, the Grateful Dead controlled the ticket sales for their concerts. While other bands moved toward selling tickets through electronic systems of the day, like Ticketron, and later, Ticketmaster, the Grateful Dead established their own in-house ticketing agency in the early 1980s. The system allowed the Grateful Dead to announce tours to fans first and treated supporters to the best seats, driving passionate loyalty.

The Grateful Dead teaches us to treat customers with care and respect. Yet we see so many organizations that do precisely the opposite. Instead of putting loyal customers first, they ignore them while they try to get new ones. While we’re all for growing a business, we don’t think it should come at the expense of annoying existing customers. Always remember, your most passionate fans are also the people who tell your stories and spread your ideas.

Unlike other bands at the time, the Dead didn’t try and stop people from bootlegging their live shows. Microphone stands were a regular sight at their concerts. Decades before Napster, the Dead grasped the value of peer to peer sharing. In fact, they made special tape sections where fans could set up to get the best recordings.


Organization and structure are often seen as essential to success. However, the unstructured nature of a starfish organization nurtures innovation. Good ideas gain momentum and get implemented and replicated.

Adapts to change faster: Innovation everywhere, Democratizes learning “Idea” and “innovation” are also two different things. Ideas happen all the time but the process of taking that idea and turning into something is innovation. Does your organization enable anyone to come forward with an idea and then give them the opportunity to turn that idea into something?

In most companies today, if you want to learn something you have to book a class or a training session, oftentimes days or weeks in advance. Learning is a very structured and linear process which is completely outdate today.

Use technology to gain an edge

Rather than rely on what was available, the band built their own concert rig which traveled with them wherever they went. “It was so far ahead of any other rock band’s concert sound system. it catapulted the Grateful Dead into a different music technology solar system.”


The Grateful Dead played over 2,300 concerts and each one was completely unique due to their improvisational style. The Grateful Dead experimented with musical forms and genres — both as a group and individually — creating unique musical experiences. Despite the occasional poor performance, they didn’t become conservative and stop experimenting. They continued to push the edge and learn from the mistakes they made in the process.

Like the Grateful Dead, disintermediators today need to experiment in their craft in order to make big breakthroughs. Instead of seeing failure as something to be avoided, CEOs and management teams need to free their disintermediators to experiment, quickly learn from failure, and experiment again.

Like music, disintermediation is a creative discipline. Instead of worrying about making mistakes, you should be doing at least five times more experiments than you are likely doing today. In terms of disintermediation, this could mean starting a blog, freeing your employees to Tweet or write posts for your blog, or leaving comments on others’ blogs.

Value created needs to be value returned

It solves motivation, reward and collective action problems through an architecture that is responsive to nuanced and changing value landscapes without being bottlenecked by concentrated (and, therefore, intelligence reducing) decision-makers.

the ability to actually deliver justice, which he defines as making sure that the loops are closed, the value created needs to be value returned, and that externalities need to be returned to the creators of externalities, all right? The less high quality of recordkeeping, the less high quality or ability to perceive reality and have a history, a real history of what’s going on, the less effective those kinds of mechanisms are going to be. Then, of course, there’s the actual limit, which is-That’s where blockchain is actually valuable. If you have injustice, if you have bad records in a system, if you don’t have the ability to determine who created how much value and who created how much externality and thereby return it, then you get a system that drifts quite rapidly, and where a lot of strategies are about stealing credit and avoiding responsibility.

It’s not that people have to become more pro bono. It’s just that the good things they do will be noticed and rewarded, and the bad things they do will be noticed and punished, done. It’s pretty simple. That’s straightforward. As long as you can provide a framework where people have clean boundaries, and good choices are awarded and bad choices are punished, they will begin to move in that direction, and they’ll begin to move in that direction en masse.

Runs in the cloud

It is intrinsically virtual. Peer-to-peer networking has become a reality, whether sharing information, data, software, goods, services, car rides, accommodation, lending and/or political strategies. In other words, it is able to connect with resources anywhere with minimal lag and at minimal cost. The potential of tapping into and connecting precisely the girl in Phuket and the team in Slovenia when where and how they are needed is flat out revolutionary.

Shifts from profits to prosperity

Prosperity looks beyond just how much money a company makes and looks at things such as employee health and wellness, community involvement, sustainability, and making a positive impact on the world. These are the values and attributes that the future organization must and will possess.

Become a “platform” for other businesses

If you have a very successful product like the Grateful Dead or facebook, it is possible for you to open it up into a platform to let others “build applications” on top of it.

  • The parking lots at Dead shows became a traveling ecosystem of businesses — from veggie burritos to handmade jewelry to magic mushrooms. Renewable energy allows for decentralized systems of production and consumption, turning households into independent nodes of a global network. Costs are now below fossil fuels, despite the $10 million a minute in subsidies that fossil energy still enjoys.
  • BLOCKCHAIN The vast majority of the work has been highly decentralized — activities like wallet construction and exchange building that is entirely done “at the edge” and with little to no governance outside of simple architectural boundaries.
  • Regenerative agriculture, pioneered in Africa, South America and South Asia, offers sufficient food for all using methods that restore ecosystems and capture carbon and increase yield.



If we take a page from the Grateful dead Moving beyond GAME A with the introduction of wellbeing indicators to steer economic policy can massively support this transition. A wellbeing system of accounting would emphasize the costs associated with centralized, polluting, and wasteful production, thus eroding many corporations’ social licenses to operate. It would also highlight the contributions that GAME A either downplays or ignores, from the value of natural inputs, to the unpaid activity of households and the social benefits to be derived from small distributed businesses. Civil society will also benefit: its activities will no longer be perceived as marginal (as implicit in definitions such as ‘non-profit’ and ‘third sector’), but rather, as among the key drivers of wellbeing.

In a wellbeing economy, the money system will need to follow the same distributed model of governance as the economy itself in order to provide appropriate levels of economic stimulus and control at local, national, and international levels. Local, debt-free currencies, which are mushrooming around the world, would underpin prosperity and economic resilience at a regional level, straddling arbitrary national borders to reflect economic and social networks. A national network of currencies (similar to the Regiogeld in Germany, the largest network of alternative currencies in the world) could replace the national currency to allow communities to trade with each otherin a faire way. Alternatively, a national currency could continue side by side with local currencies. At a global level, a complementary system of crypto-currencies would facilitate the worldwide interchange of ideas and knowledge (the so-called ‘light economy’).

In theory, the GAME A economy can only operate within the boundaries of social needs and planetary resource capacity. As an extractive system, affording no value to unexploited resources and making no judgment as to the qualitative value of production and consumption, its growth must ultimately conflict with natural and social equilibria. The services that GAME A model considers to be provided free of charge by nature (so-called ‘ecosystem services’) will become fully valued components of society’s infrastructure, supported by new, horizontal structures of governance that connect people more closely to the natural ecosystems in which they live and work.

GAME By solves the problem of stagnation not by taking money, jobs, homes, possessions, and savings, from some, and giving them to GAME A Propietors But by a society choosing to invest in itself. To build more hospitals, highways, roads, schools, universities, labs, studios, homes. To ensure everyone can have an education, an income, healthcare, insurance, safety nets. GAME A and GAME A COMPOUNDED operates through expropriation — I take what was yours, and now it’s GAME’S A, to reward the most cruel and vicious with. But GAME B operates through the exactly the opposite: investment — we all pool our hard-won savings, and invest them in things which benefit us all, because they are things we cannot have any other way

GAME B” isn’t a way to merely “redistribute” things. It is a way to change what can be distribution at all — not just who gets what, but what can be had in the first place. It’s a way to expand the basic goods available in a society — to the point that they’re available to everyone. In that way, it’s a mechanism to solve the problem of predatory GAME A operating according to the law of artificial scarcity as a tool to skyrocket profits — which costs lives, at this point. GAME B is a way for a society to address shortage of basic, fundamental goods, like healthcare, education, transport, media, safety nets, retirement, pensions — which GAME A has made artificially scarce.


I really wish the reality and importance of this new frontier were more broadly understood. My sense is that over just the next five years this new form of SOCI will go through its gestation, birthing and childhood development stages. The result will be a form of collective intelligence that is so much more capable than anything in the current environment that it will sweep away even the most powerful contemporary collective intelligences (in particular both corporations and nation states) in establishing itself as the new dominant form of collective intelligence on the Earth.

And whoever gets there first will “win” in a fashion that is rarely seen in history.

How that unfolds is unclear at present. Entrepreneurs and innovators will resolve uncertainty, as always, through a process of trial and error. No doubt great fortunes will be made and lost before we know exactly how this disruption will unfold.

Our contribution is that we have a clear understanding of a model that can be deployed to provide clarity to the disruption as and when it occurs.

The Grateful Dead teach us to live our own dreams — not someone else’s. Not only does doing what you love increase your odds of success, but it dramatically increases your happiness. You spend more than 50 percent of your waking adult life working, so you might as well do what you love. Doing something you don’t enjoy during more than 50 percent of your waking adult life takes a toll on your psyche that goes well beyond the boundaries of the workplace. Conversely, doing what you love pays huge dividends in your personal life.

If anything, GAME B is a celebration of risk and randomness and a call to arms to recognize and embrace antifragility. Rather than reduce risk, organize your life, your business or your society in such a way that it benefits from randomness and the occasional Black Swan event. That’s how stress can prepare your body for even bigger stress and it’s building this extra capacity that lies at the core of why being GAME B is so helpful to thrive in critical situations.



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