Understanding the basics of coordination

03 March 2022Alexander Miles
  • blockchain
  • coordination
  • anoma basics

Coordination happens everyday, all around us. But what is coordination as a concept, and why would our world cease to function without it? Learn about coordination, and how it enables mutually beneficial actions, which is foundational to Anoma's architecture.

Understanding the basics of coordination

Two friends coordinate to move a large couch from the first floor apartment to the second floor; A tribe coordinates to encircle a wild boar; A business coordinates to build a product, A city coordinates to elect a new mayor; A nation coordinates to decrease CO2 emissions.

Coordination happens everyday, all around us. Without coordination our world would cease to function. However, have you ever thought of coordination as a concept?

In short, coordination is the transmission of information between participants about their internal states and preferences, enabling people to collectively plan actions for mutual benefit beyond what they could have achieved independently. In order to collaborate effectively, coordination requires a mechanism that enables information to be represented and transmitted understandably. Examples of this could be:

  • Oral speech
  • Written language
  • Money
  • Democratic governance

As one can imagine, this list can be quite large as coordination can occur at many scales and in many formats but the foundational concept remains - these mediums facilitate a certain type of coordination where specific information can be represented and transmitted efficiently, empowering individuals, societies and entire countries to jointly express preferences and intentions that could result in collective action for mutual benefit.

Examples of Coordination

So let's take democratic governance. Democracy instills elected governments to direct society based on the elective choice of its citizens. Citizens must reflect on their preferences, opinions and views of the world to try and select the official or group of officials who most accurately represent them. Voting then takes place and officials are elected. Now, these officials have the challenging job of trying to execute on the preferences and opinions of the citizens, consolidating viewpoints to a state where they try to figure out where the majority lies so they can proceed to do a ‘good job’ and lead to them being reelected in some years. Nonetheless, coordination happens from the individual level and results in collective action.

Money is the numerical representation of value. As a coordination mechanism, it enables economic agents to coordinate across vast networks who benefit from engaging in trade. Whether a customer wants to buy some shoes or a business needs to purchase raw material, services and goods are translated into this numerical form in order to facilitate the trade of different units of account.

Without democratic governance, societies would fail to coordinate the collective preferences of citizens. Without money, goods and services would be challenging to trade, collapsing entire supply chains. Thus, forms of coordination differ depending on the context. Money would not be able to portray citizens’ preferences for a mayor nor would democratic governance be able to effectively facilitate the purchase of fruits (although there is overlap in some ways).


These mediums of coordination enable individuals to achieve a desired internal state in synergy based on plans, motivations and intentions, facilitating the expression of preferences that would be otherwise inaccessible to the other participants involved. Money, democratic governance, oral speech and written language are all mechanisms for which the complex internal states of each individual can be expressed and understood in a collective manner, empowering the formation and execution of wants, needs and desires between several different parties at scale.

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