Loomio
Thu 23 May 2019

How we organise Platform 6

A place to discuss how we organise ourselves, our membership, our various projects and our wider community of support.

MS(

Whilst this is ultimately a decision for the members of Platform 6, we're posting this discussion in the public Platform 6 Community Loomio. This discussion will form the main business of our next on-line members' meeting on the 18th June 2019 and we'd welcome input from our wider community.

MS(

The context for this is that there is a lot of exciting activity amongst the Directors of P6, but little engagement at the moment with the members.
Questions to start the conversation (please feel free to respond and add more):
1) How do our members get more involved?
2) How do we generate new projects/opportunities?
3) How do we co-ordinate our activity?
4) How do we better communicate our Mission(s)?
5) What do members of P6 want to get from P6?

MS(

One option we might consider is a sociocratic model, currently being explored by several UK worker co-operatives. Platform 6 would be co-ordinated by a central circle, with projects and admin functions being subsidiary circles.

Brief introduction here: https://youtu.be/JVM1BCc06Mw

EC

Edward Carpenter Thu 23 May 2019

Whilst reviewing assets available in the NW, I plugged platform 6 today at the inaugural meeting of a the NW Community Energy Hub.

NB(

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Thu 30 May 2019

I think there needs to be some clarity over membership too. I was invited to participate in Member discussions (although unfortunately have little time to engage) yet it is my co-op Co-op Culture which is the Member and @marksimmonds is our nominated representative. Which means we in principle have more than one voice for our one membership. Transfer that to a co-op of 150 members and you could have undue influence.

G

Graham Thu 30 May 2019

Gaining traction for any discussion in Loomio, or any other space for that matter, is increasingly difficult as it gets harder and harder to get people's attention. Personally I'm generally aiming to keep track of things across perhaps twenty or more channels spread across at least half a dozen different platforms, whilst simultaneously trying to do some "work" (the stuff generates hard cash in the here and now). Within that context I guess we need to aim to be relevant, interesting and useful. Even then we'll probably only ever be able to reach some of the people for some of the time.
I think that the directors - and I'm one - have fallen into a trap of talking amongst themselves rather than more widely amongst the membership or the wider public forum. I know I'm guilty of that and I hereby commit to trying to stop that.
As a founder I still need to make it clear what my vision is, and I would encourage others here to offer their thoughts also on what their ideas and expectations are.
In terms of your second point Mark - how do we generate more projects/opportunities - I'm thinking perhaps we also need to think about process and service. We've been - deliberately in my case - vague on what happens when projects come our way. In contrast, initiatives like start.coop in the US and incubator.coop in Australia have taken a wholly different approach with very clear process. Should we be building clearer pathways for engagement? Almost certainly.

MS(

Whilst talking to people at events, I'm increasingly framing P6 as a "community of practice" where people have permission to experiment, look for collaborators and share. A way to connect the practical hands-on with the wider ecosystem of knowledge, expertise, culture and other communities of practice. Things to resolve in that context are:
1) What does permission look like?
2) Where and how do we draw the boundary around that "community of practice"?

DU

[deactivated account] Thu 30 May 2019

I'm contemplating conveying my experience, but I'm reticent to do so,

LS

Leo Sammallahti Fri 31 May 2019

1) How do our members get more involved?
* The Progressive Coders network has a call with every member who joins, with 2 directors present in the call asking about what sort of projects the person is involved and would like to get involved with. This would allow us to match P6 members and coops (coop needs video editing, theres two p6 members who have told they know video editing). The onboarding talk could also be done in Loomio comment section - whichever the member prefers.

2) How do we generate new projects/opportunities?
* Asking all existing P6 members about coops that could use help could be helpful for us to find new projects and opportunities.
* We could even email through platform coops with introducing ourselves and asking if theres anything we could do to help them. We shouldnt overpromise more involvement that we can provide, but having a broad range of activities our members could engage with is something that we can harness into more engagement.
* I have a buffet of existing projects and new ideas for Platform6 to choose from that I will be posting about during the next two weeks.

3) How do we co-ordinate our activity?
* The lack of possible activities to participate is currently low (as is understandable for a project as new as this). Having a more detailed look at members skills and interests alongside more different activities to participate in, we can coordinate our activities by matching members and projects.

4) How do we better communicate our Mission(s)?
* There are many online publications we could tell about ourselves - Progressive Coders blog, The Peoples News, The Open Collective blog, Internet Of Ownership and platform cooperative email list are 5 channels in which we could inform about ourselves.

5) What do members of P6 want to get from P6?
A coop that connects people that want to get collaborate with coops to coops that want people to get collaborate with them.

G

Graham Fri 31 May 2019

Excellent response @leosammallahti - thank you.

BC

bob cannell Fri 31 May 2019

I say it's better to say Sorry than ask for Permission. People learn more from Sorry too!
Communities of practice should be self defining, otherwise they are excluding of deviance, eccentricity, insubordination and other qualities that result in novelty and innovation

JD

Josef Davies-Coates Tue 4 Jun 2019

How about, as a starter for 6, a weekly email newsletter to members?

Could perhaps be loosely based around the "weekly stand-up" commonly found in lean/ agile development communities, e.g. "what we did last week, what we're planning to this week, what blocks mights stop us/ what we need help with" sort of thing? :)

G

Graham Tue 4 Jun 2019

We're actually about to send out an email newsletter, and it's taken quite a long time to put together (I've just spent a good couple of hours on sub-edits and formatting) and I know Mark has done a lot more as he wrote the thing. So right now we're probably running away from the idea of a newsletter, but something much more brief as you suggest could potentially be do-able. Thanks!

JD

Josef Davies-Coates Tue 4 Jun 2019

Perhaps there could be a longer monthly one and people could choose which to receive, either or both?

LS

Leo Sammallahti Sat 8 Jun 2019

After mapping:
- What skills are needed (video editing, setting up a Mastodon instance, setting up a self-hosted Loomio, speaking Italian, etc.)
- What skills members have that they have told us they can help out with.

We could build some sort of a two-sided platform - one to look for coops to participate in based on your skills, and one to look for people to participate in your coop based on their skills.

Many credit unions in the UK are actively looking for volunteers - this platform could grow as large as to include co-op volunteering "gigs" around the world, similar to what the DemocraticJobs is for worker owned coop jobs and Co-op Crowdfunding Monitor is for donating to coops.

MS(

@johnmerritt of interest?

G

Graham Sat 8 Jun 2019

I'm interested to find out what your experience is, and what your expectations are @simon88

G

Graham Sat 8 Jun 2019

It's always been a part of my view of how P6 will work that anyone should be able to create a page on the website for their project, and thereby give it some visibility, both for its own benefit and also so that Platform 6 members and supporters can become aware of it and engage with it. It strikes me that one of the things that is weird with the way that co-op development happens at the moment is that most new start projects are largely invisible, and it can take a good deal of effort on the part of project owners to build some profile. So if project owners/promoters could easily and quickly set up a project information page on the website, just as we're beginning to do with co-op crowdfunding campaigns, that could be a fairly easy thing to start with. And once created we could help to promote it through our networks.

DU

[deactivated account] Sun 9 Jun 2019

My expectations were high Graham. I assumed that the coop movement was small but supportive, especially of startups. Sadly my experience has not reflected my expectations..
If my venture is ever a success I will not be eulogising about all the support I received in the early days. If I were to give up now, I don't believe anyone would notice.
As of this moment, I still don't know what Platform 6 does, or plans to do, & I declined to renew my membership of Co-operatives UK as I do not have money to waste. In other words, there is no obvious support structure to turn to for a coop startup. Sheer bloody-mindedness keeps me going, combined with faith in my ambition, but for anyone less than 100% committed to the coop route, I would have to advise them against it, which is tragic.

EC

Edward Carpenter Sun 9 Jun 2019

Simon, what is it you are looking to set up?

DU

[deactivated account] Sun 9 Jun 2019

It's set up www.just.coop , but still I wasn't happy until this week .when I settled on separate domains per locality. Subdomains isn't working, so I purchased www.justtewkesbury.coop to start last week. For two years i have been working on this in isolation, not through choice.

EC

Edward Carpenter Sun 9 Jun 2019

Simon, thanks for the links. I too am trying to scale up a place-buildimh I initiative and know only too well how hard it can be.

What help was it that you were looking for from the cooperative community that you did not get?

DU

[deactivated account] Thu 13 Jun 2019

Hi Edward,
I've tried typing something in answer to your question a few times now. Let's keep it short & simply say that whatever help I may have needed, it's just as well that I have been able to manage without it.

MS(

@Emma I'd value your thoughts on using circles to organise in P6

G

Graham Sat 15 Jun 2019

Thanks Simon. Part of my personal rationale for starting Platform 6 is to try to provide a new way for projects like yours to make themselves known to the wider cooperative ecosystem and also to democratise and widen the whole process of providing assistance and support for new projects and start-ups.

I've only got a partial view of what is happening, based partly on my own history. My first co-op startup, back in 1988, was lucky in that we happened to be in Southampton, and at that point the City Council there was sufficiently enlightened to have a funded Co-operative Development Agency with Chris Funnell (now a Co-op Assistance Network member) running the shop. Chris provided us with excellent advice and support, and we started our worker co-op, which went on to provide decent work for people for many years. Some towns and cities still have local co-op development/support facilities like this today, although they are really very few in number. I'm hopeful that the current emphasis on community wealth building will see more local authorities invest in these services, and I hope that online platforms such as what I envisage for Platform 6 can supplement this and enable anyone, regardless of their location, to access good quality advice, information and support.

On the supply side I understand that there are really not many professionals working in the field of cooperative development. I use the term 'professionals' to mean people that not only have valuable experience, but who have also taken the time and trouble to develop and broaden their expertise and gain relevant accreditation such that they can earn all or part of their living by providing advice, support and development services. The low number is probably largely due to the lack of funding available to do the work. So we need to bring more funding into the sector to enable more people to consider earning a living helping co-ops to get started. But we have a Catch-22 because the funding is hard to come by because the apparent demand is low, and the apparent demand is low because there are so few people doing the work on the ground to grow awareness and build demand.

All of this is of course in the broader context where the "cooperative movement" spends lots of its time telling everyone how massive it is. So how can this sector of the economy be both massive and barely visible (less than 200 new cooperatives registered in the UK in 2018) at one and the same time?

The vast, overwhelming majority of the people who are part of the co-operative economy - members of the Co-op Group and other major retail societies - don't see themselves as being part of the co-operative movement. As a movement we've chosen largely to believe our own hype. In reality, I think that the people in the UK who are actively working to grow the co-operative economy, with a sense of vision about creating a better more just society and an economy that works for people and planet, number probably less than 2000, with a good number of those people operating outside what we might consider to be the "co-operative movement". The big co-op organisations have over the decades largely neglected their responsibilities as defined by the seven principles, especially the fifth principle about education, and this has led to these organisations being largely (although not exclusively) captured by their management. Indeed we have the current irony whereby a large part of co-operative development work is funded by the Co-operative Bank, which is of course not a co-operative at all, or even owned by a co-operative.

So we face a real challenge if we want to effectively support start-ups like yours, and many many more - which we'll need to if we are serious about the much discussed aims of doubling the size of the cooperative economy. I hope that through Platform 6, as just one initiative, we can have clear-eyed conversations about our ambition, our ability to deliver, the challenges we face, and develop some fresh thinking and innovative approaches to move us forward more effectively.

DU

[deactivated account] Sat 15 Jun 2019

Thanks Graham. I really do appreciate your comprehensive response. To be honest, many times over the last two years, just a bit of moral support was perhaps all I needed, an unexpected email, or phone call, simply to ask, 'how's it going?'.

Anyway, it's all positive now, & I am ready for some serious support, in the form of how to recruit nationally?. Where does one look for people with good communication skills who want an opportunity which is entirely purpose driven?. The aim is to build a network of intentional communities, hollowed out from within the capitalist hegemony.

If Platform 6 could help with that, I do believe Just Cooperate has the potential to pour money back into your wider ambitions. I'd like that.

One way or another we must promote the cooperative approach to business that has never been more needed. It's also true that never has society been more ready, without even realising it, for a radical approach to how we organise ourselves to meet needs beyond the profit motive.

G

Graham Sun 16 Jun 2019

As posted earlier in this same thread (https://www.loomio.org/d/iJGF6sNB/how-we-organise-platform-6/18) I do think that Platform 6 can play a role in making projects like yours more visible, and help project initiators to establish and grow their crowd (of cooperators, supporters, investors, customers etc.). I've started work already on thinking how we can begin to do that, and I hope that you - and others - will be able to collaborate on that.

DU

[deactivated account] Sun 16 Jun 2019

I wonder how many more cooperatives there would be if the very option was promoted, as well as supporting coop businesses?.
I recently enquired about support from a local EC funded enterprise agency. When I got to the drop down box for 'business structure' (sole trader, limited company, CIC etc) No mention of coop. I had to contact them & insist they add it, but the degree of ignorance among those offering mainstream business support about coops, especially workers' coops, is breathtaking.

G

Graham Sun 16 Jun 2019

A lot of this ignorance/lack of awareness/visibility stems from the creation by the Blair government of "social enterprise" as a label, and the subsequent creation of the community interest company (CIC), which served primarily to hide the 'co-op' brand.

MS(

I think that I am going to be proposing that we organise on a sociocratic basis, with circles relating to different functional areas or project areas of P6. There would likely be a central co-ordinating circle comprised of representatives of those other circles. This function is currently carried out by regular meetings of the Directors and a Slack channel of the Directors.

The reasons for this are:
1) The membership are currently not as involved as they should be in the exciting stuff happening in P6; and
2) The current Board of Directors are doing lots of stuff that should be shared.
3) It's totally aligned with a mission - to create an engaged community of practice around co-op development.
4) It fits with Graham's desire to create a space for projects to develop (see above).

My proposal would be that this co-ordination - an executive function - becomes the function of the central circle, which runs mainly thru Slack. The Board would still exist with its separate legal duties and would be elected from the members at General Meeting. The central Circle is effectively acting as a collective CEO.

Circles would be in most cases - double-linked - sub-circles of the central circle would have a rep. from the central circle and appoint a rep. to that circle.

Here's diagram of what this might look like.

AC

Austen Cordasco Mon 17 Jun 2019

I also think that sociocratic circles is the way to go but I'm not sure about the Central Circle idea. On the one hand it allows members to get more involved with executive functions, on the other hand it puts some serious barriers up. Example 1: Directors can't talk to the Finance team without going through 2 link people and Finance team can't talk to the Board without going through 2 different link people. That's up to 4 different people required to pass messages around. Example 2: Members' Meeting and Members' Loomio can't communicate without going through the Board and Central Circle. That involves up to 8 people and some significant time delay.

It would simpler if the Board and Central Circle were the same thing, but that would require those who want to be involved in governance to be Directors, which may be not be such a bad thing.

It would also be simpler, faster and less error prone if the circles were single- rather than double-linked - that's how we are doing it in CAN.

MS(

Having the Board as the central circle requires something akin to collective governance and also would require people to be Directors who may not want the responsibility. I've tried that with a co-op that I was working with and it caused blockage.

But the good news is that having a central circle doesn't stop comms. and co-ordination between functional areas within the organisation any more than everything having to go thru a CEO in a conventional organisation.

Mark Simmonds

mark@culture.coop

www.culture.coop ( http://www.culture.coop )

0741 999 1506

Co-op Culture Ltd., Company reg. no. 9649522

Co-op Culture on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/coop.culture.coop ) Co-op Culture on Twitter ( https://www.twitter.com/coopsmark )

( http:/// )

G

Graham Mon 17 Jun 2019

Form follows function for me.What's the problem we are trying to solve? I'm agnostic about sociocratic approaches: there appear to be aspects that are highly beneficial, and there also seem to be bits of it that are troublesome. I'm thinking that the focus of this conversation could be a bit less about how we organise ourselves and more about what we want to achieve together. Would sharing a better understanding of our common objectives illuminate the pathway to the optimal organising principle?

DU

[deactivated account] Mon 17 Jun 2019

Maybe some kind of members charter of shared beliefs and principles?. The worker co-operative code is more about the coop than the people within them. I can't help feeling that if there is a shared ethos, making decisions becomes so much easier without the need for a particular decision making structure. I've been thinking about writing something along such lines to help when I start recruiting. Does such a thing already exist that I have missed?

MS(

Quite agree @graham2 I meant to refer to an earlier discussion around our vision and mission, currently standing as:

Vision

“At Platform 6, we believe in a world where communities own and democratically control their livelihoods and common resources - a world built on the values of People Care, Earth Care and Fair Shares and the principles of Co-operation.”

Mission

“Through the provision of resources, events, collective funds and the building of partnerships, we will foster an inclusive co-operative community of practice open to all; a platform to support the growth of a sustainable co-operative, equitable and solidarity economy.”

Maybe we should start there, but I do feel that we need to address the issues of how we make decisions and share workload.

CMI

Cath M in Leeds (Footprint/Radical Routes/Cornerstone Housing/CBC) started a dot vote Tue 18 Jun 2019

What time of day for members' meetings? Closed Sun 30 Jun 2019

Outcome
by Cath M in Leeds (Footprint/Radical Routes/Cornerstone Housing/CBC) Thu 18 Jul 2019

Inconclusive results to 'what time shall we meet?' poll. It's this month's meeting in 40 minutes (sorry for last minute actioning), but I'm not sure we have much to go on, as there were only 7 responses. However (and this was one of the reasons we ran the poll) one of those responses was from someone who can only do evenings, so I will suggest that we have occasional evening meetings and see what everyone else thinks. Thanks folks
ps - i'm only thinking in UK time at the mo and we're starting to have members from around the world. It could well be that evening in the UK really suits folks on the other side of the Atlantic

Lots of changes from today's members meeting (Tue 18/6/19). We agreed to make members' meetings monthly and reduce the role of the directors, in order to spread the excitement/participation a bit.

So, two things
1) if you're not already a member (ie contributing money to the fund and able to propose and vote on how it should be spent), pls consider joining
2) we don't want the time of the meetings to exclude the same people every month. So here's a poll - which hours in the day are best for you for an online members meeting? Please choose all the times that are generally ok.

We'll probably alternate times each month.

2 - 8.30am
3 - 10.00am
5 - noon
5 - 1.00pm
5 - 2.00pm
4 - 3.00pm
6 - 4.00pm
2 - 6.00pm
3 - 7.00pm
G

Graham Tue 18 Jun 2019

1 - 1.00pm
1 - noon
1 - 10.00am
1 - 4.00pm
1 - 2.00pm
0 - 8.30am
0 - 6.00pm
0 - 3.00pm
0 - 7.00pm
CMI
1 - 7.00pm
1 - 6.00pm
1 - 4.00pm
1 - 3.00pm
1 - 2.00pm
1 - 1.00pm
1 - noon
1 - 10.00am
1 - 8.30am
IS

Ian Snaith Tue 18 Jun 2019

1 - 4.00pm
1 - noon
1 - 3.00pm
1 - 2.00pm
0 - 7.00pm
0 - 8.30am
0 - 6.00pm
0 - 1.00pm
0 - 10.00am
AC

Austen Cordasco Tue 18 Jun 2019

1 - 1.00pm
1 - 4.00pm
1 - 3.00pm
1 - 2.00pm
0 - 7.00pm
0 - 8.30am
0 - 6.00pm
0 - noon
0 - 10.00am
NB(

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Wed 19 Jun 2019

Sorry, no such thing as a typical day for me

GN

Gareth Nash Wed 19 Jun 2019

Sorry I was not able to zoom in yesterday, just got bogged down with work. I had it in my diary but..... Time is not particularly relevant, notice is more relevant (even though it didn't work yesterday) :-(

MS(
1 - 7.00pm
1 - 6.00pm
1 - 4.00pm
1 - 3.00pm
1 - 2.00pm
1 - 1.00pm
1 - noon
1 - 10.00am
0 - 8.30am

Any time really for me - every week is different

G

Graham Wed 19 Jun 2019

I know what it's like, I've just decided reluctantly to miss the Webarchitects AGM today in Sheffield despite having it in my diary for over a month. Too much to do. For future Platform 6 meetings/calls we've agreed a regular monthly cycle, and I'm keen to ensure that there is something in each one that will set it apart and make it a must-go fixture.

MS(

I think that one of the outcomes from the members' meeting yesterday was that whilst we wouldn't hard-wire a sociocratic structure, we would operate in a way that could be described as sociocratic. With that in mind, I'd like to extend some of the other sociocratic ways of working, particularly the rounds and using them in decision making. We are using consent based decision-making IMO, but we do jump around a lot and I'm worried that some are passive spectators. This short video explains how we might use rounds in consent based decision-making: https://youtu.be/UiMObe6ssR0

IS

Ian Snaith Wed 19 Jun 2019

Thanks, Mark. The video was very helpful.

PB

Pete Burden Wed 19 Jun 2019

Great idea Mark - to introduce little bits of sociocratic practice, one step at a time.

While keeping reviewing, getting feedback and adjusting - in other words using sociocracy to gradually introduce sociocracy!

EC

Edward Carpenter Wed 19 Jun 2019

1 - 7.00pm
0 - 6.00pm
0 - 4.00pm
0 - 3.00pm
0 - 2.00pm
0 - 1.00pm
0 - noon
0 - 10.00am
0 - 8.30am
MS(

Interesting related on-line workshop on co-operative decision making 30% discount with code "LOOMIO".

MS(

Here's a HackMD doc where I've been making notes and marshalling my thoughts on implementing sociocracy in co-ops. Originally intended as a way of getting the UK Co-op Governance Expert Reference Group up to speed on an emerging governance development, it also covers the issues around mapping traditional co-op structures to sociocratic circles. Feel free to pitch in with comments.

PB

Pete Burden Sun 30 Jun 2019

1 - 1.00pm
1 - noon
1 - 4.00pm
1 - 8.30am
0 - 10.00am
0 - 2.00pm
0 - 6.00pm
0 - 3.00pm
0 - 7.00pm
MS(

You might be interested in this @cliffmills

G

Graham Mon 1 Jul 2019

Thanks. Had a read through, which was helpful to my understanding. Corrected a few typos. My takeaway - the whole circle thing feels to me to have huge potential to over-complicate things, although I guess I'd need to see more of how it might actually work in practice.

IS

Ian Snaith Mon 1 Jul 2019

There's always a trade off between direct democracy and efficiency. Maybe it's a matter of working out the combination that suits a particular group? How much can or should be delegated? How are people to whom it's delegated held to account? How big is the group in question? These are all issues. A simple guide to the options might be https://www.uk.coop/sites/default/files/uploads/attachments/worker_co-operative_code_2nd_edition_0_0.pdf
Apologies if you're all aware of this already.

G

Graham Mon 1 Jul 2019

I agree with you Ian - it is very much about adapting and shaping these ideas to suit the specific circumstances of the organisation, rather than the other way round.

PB

Pete Burden Wed 3 Jul 2019

This is a helpful document @marksimmonds. I think it's useful to talk about and plan around this.

Another thing that can be done with Sociocracy is to slowly start to bring in some of its practices, which is often more effective than trying to 'design' something and then 'implement' it.

Including building on some of the existing practices and successes. So, for example:

  • Surfacing concerns and addressing them one at a time
  • Making small changes and iterating
  • Constantly reviewing and learning.

And, yes, adapting to the specific situation.

Some (all?) of these are things that P6 is already doing, and they are all also important principles of Sociocracy. So in a way there is already some success to build on?

NB(

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Wed 3 Jul 2019

Interestingly I was in a probono session with a co-op where I suggested they start adopting some sociocratic behaviours such as using rounds to discuss issues and circles to take issues out of the main meeting e.g. where only 2 people were concerned on that part of the business. The response I got was similar, @graham2 that it might mean more time and more meetings. I think overcoming that fear is a huge barrier. The idea is that decisions in the main meeting become better and quicker saving everyone time.

G

Graham Wed 3 Jul 2019

Don't get me wrong @nathanbrown - I like the whole rounds thing, and I've certainly no issue with the idea of delegating issues to a sub-group/committee/circle. Where I start toget concerned is the whole double-linking thing, where I can see a rsik that a good deal of time can be consumed. As I say, I may well be wrong on that, and of course also there's thing there about what's appropriate for the scale of the organisation.

NB(

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Wed 3 Jul 2019

Your concerns are shared by others and I think that is a key challenge. We need something that is accepted as workable and pragmatic rather than for cult members. (I am being tongue in cheek using that term)

PB

Pete Burden Wed 3 Jul 2019

The concern/objection that a good deal of time can be consumed is really important @graham2 . One aim of sociocracy, as everyone knows, is to be effective and efficient. So that's a concern that goes against a common and important aim.

Using the sociocratic principle of exploring concerns means listening to concerns and enquiring into them. (Rather than trying to immediately fix them - which is also a common response.)

It's much easier to do this face to face, however. I wouldn't recommend trying to do it in a forum like this. Could be done on eg Zoom though.

The point is to use the practices of Sociocracy to explore and in a sense start to implement it.

BTW There's always been debate in the sociocratic world about double-linking and in my view it is no means essential - it all depends on stage and situation.

CM

Cliff Mills Wed 3 Jul 2019

I am really interested in the role of sociocracy in the context of co-ops. I came across it indirectly through the Quaker Business Method, which has a fascinating approach based around some Business Principles. Reading these made me realise the extent to which traditional business meetings (co-op/public sector/private sector) the default approach is competitive and not co-operative. I'm beginning to see that this approach tends to be hardwired into governance documents (articles, rules etc) and that I don't think I have seen governance documents specifically designed to approach decision-making co-operatively.
So for me there are at least 3 important points.
1. The first thing to do is working out how it is that we want to approach decision-making and governance from a practical point of view - much of this debate so far which I am catching up on. It should be worked without necessarily being constrained by legal principles of governance which are based on a competitive approach to decision-making.
2. There is another really important distinction to make. There is a profound difference in nature between a co-op and a company, which I don't believe is reflected in how governance and decision-making are approached. A company is a legal entity which is intended to be and is a separate thing from its members/shareholders. They want that separation, the limited liability, and actually (I believe) the legal principle of the corporate veil to provide moral cover or protection from anything the company might do which they don't want to be associated with (or SEEN to be associated with). By contrast, a co-op IS the members. Yes, it has separate legal personality like a company, but the members aren't looking for that same separation of ownership and control which company shareholders seek.
3. I believe that that should impact significantly on governance and decision-making. My impression is that not much work has been done to develop bespoke arrangements for co-ops in their formal governance documents, and that they have tended to default back to traditional legal drafting which is tried and tested. Please forgive me if this is ignorance on my part, but I believe that we should be looking at a whole different style of formal and informal governance documents based around people co-operating rather than competing.
I'd love to spend a morning with you folk discussing this! It's a huge subject, and I feel that there's lots of energy and ideas out there which I think should be challenging conventional legal and governance thinking.
Sorry for such a long contribution!

PC

Pat Conaty Wed 3 Jul 2019

Great observations Cliff. With CECOP Graham, Alex and others including Unicorn ran a three hour session at Co-op Congress on the morning of 22 June. Sion Whellens is doing a right up. The presentations on sociocracy, Smart freelancer co-ops, social co-ops from the Italian perspective and Union Co-ops plus Platform 6 really went well. I think your observations are really good Cliff.
Most people do not know the history of corporations and what the Charter is both in terms of Baron's Law (modern corporations and earlier with the Royal charter monopolies for colonial exploitation across the planet). The US revolution overturned this yoke and led to a return for decades to time limited companies with unlimited liability and Citizen's charters. This was in advance of the Chartists. See the link further below.

The pioneering work by Richard Grossman and Frank Adams in the USA is fabulous. The change to the concept of 'artificial personality' and unlimited liability happened from the 1850s - there were key legal decisions to reinstate Baron's law.. The Citizens Charters were based on the Hippocratic Oath idea of 'do no harm' and indeed between 1800 and 1850 the first US state's (the providers of company charters) accountable to voters cancelled charters of turnpike companies, canal operators and frequently banks. Indeed Directors were liable and charged regularly and frequently jailed.
The blog below at the link gives a summary of this Peoples Charters for corporations. Bear in mind the US had no King, so radical republicanism in the Tom Paine sense was here working in action. But Baron's law trumped Peoples Law after the US Civil War when plutocracy triumphed. A chance to go back to the Future, maybe?
Pat

http://reclaimdemocracy.org/corporate-accountability-history-corporations-us/

MS(

Apparently Nathaniel Whitestone of Sociocracy UK has drafted model governing docs. for sociocratic co-ops.

CM

Cliff Mills Thu 4 Jul 2019

I'd be interested to see that Mark

CM

Cliff Mills Thu 4 Jul 2019

Thanks Pat, great link to the US history.

PB

Pete Burden Fri 5 Jul 2019

Yes, Nate is good on this. He tells me they are just refiling their articles and will have more examples available soon. He also told me that Graham Boyd (who you met in Nottingham @marksimmonds ) has an 'actual society model'.

I don't know if this is useful - legal structures are not my thing - but I would suggest speaking to Nate and/or Graham (Evolute Six).

MS(

I've written to Graham - watch this space. I'll be in touch with Nate too. I had a really positive response to this earlier in the week when I attended my first meeting of the Sociocracy for All Co-op Circle meeting.

E

Emma Fri 19 Jul 2019

Really interesting thread - couple of things to contribute from our experience so far: rounds transform meetings. They are the single biggest contributor to the twin aims of effectiveness and equivalence. If I were only allowed to keep one thing, it would be that.
Double-linking - yep, take it or leave it. We've used this the least - we have it notionally but it's very difficult to implement in practice (more people to attend more meetings). The original purpose of double-linking as I understand it was to support the transformation of hierarchical organisations into less hierarchical ones. So there was this concept of worker & manager voice that turned into the double-link. In organisations that aren't starting from that premise, the double-link becomes less relevant. We're looking at reshaping the role of the delegate to lead on things like circle evaluations, checking in with other circles about how they're experiencing the work and what could improve. Rather than just being 'the voice of the circle' in meetings with the circle above - which also seems to be making less sense as a concept.

Circle Forward (https://www.circleforward.us/what-is-circle-forward/) have done some good work on connecting sociocracy & network governance - feels more intuitive when mapping a structure & iterating as you go rather than setting out to consciously design one.

PB

Pete Burden Fri 19 Jul 2019

Also where agile and sociocracy meet - keep iterating! :)

NM

Nenad Maljković Sat 20 Jul 2019

Where agile and sociocracy meet is Sociocracy 3.0. Might be worth checking out S3 free and open source practical guide: https://sociocracy30.org

My favourite resource is S3 pattern index: https://patterns.sociocracy30.org/pattern-index.html

NM

Nenad Maljković Sat 20 Jul 2019

S3 deliberately integrates agile into sociocracy: https://sociocracy30.org/the-details/history/

NM

Nenad Maljković Sat 20 Jul 2019

Somebody just referred me to this. I see you've been there. Another, more recent back to the future moment? :slight_smile: http://wiki.commonstransition.org/wiki/A_New_Alignment_of_Movements%3F_A_Report_on_A_Commons_Strategies_Group_Workshop

PC

Pat Conaty Sat 20 Jul 2019

Yes this was a key gathering from many movements across Europe. David Bollier of the Commons movement and I co-edited this report on how to herd cats - get at least half a dozen social movements to find common cause for collaborating to co-develop co-op commonwealth. As Synergia (an educational co-op) we have since run three online Massive Open Online Courses (Moocs) over recent years. The latest one is just finishing. We attracted just over 1000 to this from 40 countries internationally and the quality of exchanges and participation has been inspiring. We are conducting a feedback survey now on Next Steps. Happy to share this when finished.

E

Emma Sat 20 Jul 2019

Also out of interest - has anyone used kumu.io for mapping their structure? Would love to hear from any others who've used it. I've looked at maptio as well but it's not right.

NM

Nenad Maljković Sun 21 Jul 2019

I'm part of a mapping experiment that uses summApp as a mapping tool, and then that's exported to Kumu to create visualisations. What we are experimenting with is called "social system mapping", more here: https://help.sum-app.net/portal/kb

NM

Nenad Maljković Sun 21 Jul 2019

I'm curious why would Maptio not be right for mapping the coop structure? :thinking:

Another tool of that kind is https://peerdom.org

G

Graham Sun 21 Jul 2019

Hi Cliff. I was wondering whether you would be up for a) tweaking this post into a public-facing blog post for the Platform 6 website, and b) holding that discussion online, as part of a forthcoming members' Zoom call?