GEMSTARS: how the Foundation GETS THINGS DONE...

The first thing to know about the First Millennial Foundation is that it's an organization intent on ACTION. The Millennial Project is based upon the premise that--scattered throughout the world's population--the necessary talent, energy, and will exist to migrate Earth's life outward into the Solar System and beyond. The Foundation is dedicated to accomplishing that goal by bringing that dispersed energy, will, and talent into focus on the WORK that needs doing--and GETTING IT DONE.

The means to focus all that energy--the 'lens' if you will--is the gemstar. Gemstars are work teams; they are the Foundation's organizational building blocks. When joined in a gemstar team, Foundation members work together and apply their talents and skills toward accomplishing specific needed goals.

The first edition of the Foundation Newsletter (July 1993) gave a brief overview of this gemstar based structure. A Foundation gemstar can be created at any level in the organization when consensus is reached that some work needs doing. Each gemstar has a charter that states its function or purpose. Each gemstar team can have up to six members plus a leader who serves to coordinate the team's activities. In spirit, the gemstar organization is intended to be responsive, respectful, and empowering to it members. This spirit is based on a commitment to consensus-oriented leadership. The function of a gemstar leader is to moderate the interactions of the team members and bring about consensus on team requirements, designs, plans, and work assignments. In addition to moderating the interactions of the workers within the gemstar, the leader coordinates his/her gemstar's activities with leaders of other gemstars within the context of the next higher level team.

An example of a gemstar is the central team of the First Millennial Foundation itself. Its chartered function is nothing less than "to establish a migratory pathway for life to spread beyond planet Earth". This first gemstar is often called the 'bridge'; Marshall Savage serves as team leader--manning the 'helm' so to speak. The huge amount of work required to move into space is organized logically into six functional areas. Obviously all that work can't be done by the members of the bridge team. So, with the gemstar approach, whenever a function is too large and complex for a single worker, a new gemstar team is chartered to carry out the needed function. The recruited members of the new team then set about breaking the work down into manageable pieces. Thus, the 'bridge' today is broken down into subfunction gemstars ( Engineering, Cybernetics, Communications, and Administration). Each of these teams has its own charter to perform its part of the overall effort. Of course, these functions are themselves large and complex. So they, in turn, break down into more specifically focused gemstars. Subsequent levels build on the same idea, with each of the members of a higher order gemstar being leaders of ever-more specifically focused component gemstars. In this way, as the Foundation grows, the gemstar structure can expand both in size and complexity, focusing the growing body of member resources with ever finer resolution upon the tasks that need to be done.

Taken as a whole, the Foundation's gemstar cells join functionally in a crystal-like hierarchy and form a simple, flexible, and results-oriented organization. Although all gemstars function in exactly the same way, we generally refer to gemstars at different levels of the organization in the following way:

  • BRIDGE - top or central steering function
  • DIVISIONS - max of 6 cells coordinated from the bridge.
  • SECTIONS - max of 36 cells, max 6 in each division.
  • TEAMS - max of 216 cells, max 6 in each section.
  • SUBTEAMS - max of 1296, max 6 in each team.
  • etc...

Another key advantage of the gemstar structure lies in its compact lines of communication. Foundationers are basically all volunteers with jobs, families, and their own lives to live. Contributing their efforts to the Foundation ought not over-burden them with the need to communicate with too many people about too many things. With the gemstar approach, in order to accomplish their assigned tasks, any given team member would need to deal with no more than 6 others.

As the Foundation grows it will be joined by thousands of volunteers from all walks of life. And, Foundationers will hopefully come from every country on the planet. Because of this diversity and because the gemstar workers are so widely dispersed, efficient communications are a prerequisite for this organization to succeed. The logical communications medium for the Foundation is the Internet and specifically the World Wide Web. Much of the work of the gemstar teams is done on the 'web'. The Internet is the Foundationer's virtual work place where they meet, become friends, and work together designing, planning, and carrying out their tasks. In effect, the organization resides on the Internet; in a very real way, the Foundation exists as a construct in cyberspace.

The Foundation's first colony is already under construction-- today, in cyberspace.