The Engineering of Cooperation (Basic Promise Theory) Level 1


A guide to engineering cooperation in human-technology contexts.


No one can make a promise for YOU, only YOU can do that. This simple fact has very-wide-scope implications for getting people and technology to work together -- especially when scaling services and organizational changes. Promise Theory provides a framework for understanding decision-making, leadership, teamwork, collaboration, and organizational change at scale.

Promise Theory says that an approach for scaling human systems ought to also work well for scaling computer systems, and vice-versa. Now what is interesting about this is the fact that a network of autonomous agents, who independently make and keep promises, is a proven way to scale. Scaling in this way does not decay throughput as additional nodes and agents are added. Promise Theory describes a strategy for achieving linear scalability through scale-free networks. Promise Theory describes the mechanics of cooperation at scale. It confirms the underlying premises of Invitation-Based Change™, Inviting Leadership™ and the Eight Open Patterns of Business Agility™.

In two two-hour sessions you'll get introduced to the most basic rules of Promise Theory - what makes it tick, and then progress through some chosen topics from the Open Leadership Network Core Patterns:

1. Acceptance vs Agreement

2. Common Knowledge

3. Services (on demand and self-)

4. Responsibility for outcomes

5. Rights, Permissions, and Privileges

6. Authorization

7. Invitation

8. Leadership

With the course, you'll get access to 5 minute videos on each topic to follow up after the sessions are over.

Credential Earned

OLN-PT1 (Promise Theory Level 1)



Who Should Attend

Anyone seeking to troubleshoot or better understand the dynamics of cooperation across institutional teams and boundaries, for action, change, e.g. Agile Transformation, DevOps, DevSecOps, etc.


Two sessions of 2 hours over two days.


  • Basic principles of Promise Theory
  • Promises versus impositions and when to use them
  • The meaning of autonomy and voluntary cooperation
  • Leading in an explanation of the Open Leadership Network's 8 core patterns

Each Student Receives

Infographic summaries and access to a series of videos with full coverage.

Course Materials

  • Official course notebooks available from Amazon
  • 1-5 hours of video supplements