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Relates to the ability, facility or capability to do something, to perform an activity, to produce, perform or deploy. We can also see it as a "cross cutting modality of network-wide and inter-network intervention" that often overlaps or is part of interventions in governance, organizational structure, and processes, education, etc.

Capacity relates to "abilities", "attributes" and a "process". It is an attribute of agents, is shaped by, adapting to and reacting to external factors and actors, but it is not something external — it is internal to agents.

The concept must be considered at all levels (types of agents or actors): individual, open venture, OVN, or an entire ecosystem.

Capacity can be seen as a form of wealth and as an attribute of an agent.

Capacity development

A set of activities designed to unleash, strengthen, create, adapt and maintain capacity. A change process internal to agents, since capacity is an attribute of agents.

People also use capacity building which is less desirable term since it implies a structured approach based on a blueprint.

At the first level, people talking about capacity development in the context of an organization (project, venture, network) often refer to growing the numbers of affiliated agents (onboarding), acquisition of resources, including currency (crowdsourcing). In traditional terms, this is equivalent to HR and Finance.

Diving deeper, capacity of an organization is built from a clear

Effective capacity is the maximum amount of work that an organization is capable of completing in a given period due to constraints such as quality problems, delays, material handling, etc.

A discrepancy between the capacity of an organization and its demands results in inefficiency, either in under-utilized resources or unfulfilled demand. In traditional organizations the goal of capacity planning or capacity management is to minimize this discrepancy. In p2p settings activities are stigmergic, so planning and management are not a proper way to describe p2p processes of capacity optimization. We can say that capacity optimization is a process of self-organization, utilizing feedback mechanisms.

The broad classes of capacity adjustment processes are lead, lag, match, and adjustment.

  • Lead is a process that adds capacity in anticipation of an increase in demand. Requires a forecasting system. Excess capacity can also be rented to other organizations or purposes. Appropriate during periods of high growth. Especially important when the availability of a product or service is crucial, as in the case of emergency care. In some cases overbuilding in anticipation of increased usage is cheaper and less disruptive than constantly making small increases in capacity. Of course, a lead capacity strategy can be very risky, particularly if demand is unpredictable.
  • Lag refers to adding capacity only after the organization is running at full capacity or beyond due to increase in demand. Requires a feedback system. This is a more conservative strategy and opposite of a lead capacity strategy. It decreases the risk of waste, but it may result in the loss of opportunities. Three clear advantages of this strategy are a reduced risk of overbuilding, greater productivity due to higher utilization levels, and the ability to put off large investments as long as possible. Organization that follow this strategy often provide mature, cost-sensitive products or services.
  • Match strategy is adding capacity in small amounts in response to changing demand. This is a more moderate strategy.
  • Adjustment strategy is adding or reducing capacity in small or large amounts due to ongoing demand changes, or, due to major changes to product or system architecture.

Capacity utilization or capacity utilisation is the extent to which an organization employs its installed productive capacity. It is the relationship between output that is produced, and the potential output which could be produced, if capacity was fully used. The Formula is the actual output per period all over full capacity per period expressed as a percentage. The "economic" utilization rate, is the ratio of actual output to the level of output beyond which the average cost of production begins to rise. In this case, surveyed organizations are asked by how much it would be practicable for them to raise production from existing resources / infrastructure, without raising unit costs.

Threshold capacity

Certain organizations can only exist above a given capacity threshold. Open organizations / networks exhibit this minimum capacity threshold, unlike transnational organizations, which often exhibit a maximum capacity. That is because open systems often rely on competition to exclude malicious agents or action. This competitive defensive processes is based on overpowering malicious agents through a mix of incentives, methods and infrastructure architecture. In other words, capacity requires to be above a given threshold to sustain attacks or malicious activities. Ex. Wikipedia (competition in editing / reverting a page, ability to follow a page and be notified when it is changed) and Bitcoin (proof of work).


About tools and measures for assessing capacity development, setting goals / targets and evaluate performance of capacity development activities.

Factors can be organization's clarity of vision, mission and objectives, organization's level of coherence and mobilization, purpose, motivation and incentive system, the organization's learning, an organization's productivity, an organization's monitoring processes.

Other dimensions of monitoring are: the links between projects and activities of an organization and its objectives, a program or organization's measurable indicators, data collection, and progress reports.

Two types of indicators for progress (from USAID): "output indicators" and "outcome indicators." Output indicators measure immediate changes or results such as the number of people trained. Outcome indicators measure the impact. Both the "numbers of people trained" and "impact" are, however, just inputs or intermediate inputs and do not measure actual improvements in "performance" in terms of measurable outcomes of capacity development.

Specific elements / indicators that apply: law, administrative principles, social science concepts, and education concepts.

Regenerative capacity

It is the ability to continue to occupy a niche, to perform long-term within an environment, by balancing extraction (from the environment) with replenishment (giving back to the environment), or by adjusting the rate of extraction to the natural rate of regeneration of the environment.

It relates to the nature and the quality of links, bonds between the agent and the environment. In other words, the flows between the agent and the environment must sustain a symbiotic relationship among the agent and other agents and a sustainable use of natural resources.

Relations to infrastructure

Infrastructure should be designed with accumulation mechanisms in mind, to increase individual and organizational capacity. For example, documentation (as a process) encouraged by the work culture and by the methods in place, supported by collaborative documentation tools is an example of mechanism of accumulation of information and knowledge, which improves the ability of the organization to act, produce stuff.

Tools can also be used to capture data and feed it to capacity monitoring systems.

Human capacity

The number of individual agents taking into consideration their own assets that can be put to work in the context of the organization.

Building human capacity building is a process composed of: Outreach --> Onboarding --> Orientation --> Support --> Animation

See also

External links