Your invitation to get your hands dirty by doing
If you take the time to talk to anyone at depth about commonly-owned infrastructure or Co-operatives (member-owned businesses), they almost always agree that it’s a good idea.
There is enthusiasm for this type of business, this type of community to live in, this type of economy for our kids to grow up in and the types of outcomes that happen when these commons or Co-operatives are created.
Technology enthusiasts want to support these ideas with the latest technology, designers want to design for member-centricity, community-developers want to hold community events around these themes and policy people want to create governance structures and protocols for these communities.
So why if the idea of Co-operation is so popular do we not have a flourishing Co-operative and Mutual sector?
(There has been 17+ years where more Co-operatives have de-mutualised than new Co-operatives formed).
The short answer is: we lack “builders”.
The longer answer requires a metaphor for explanatory purposes.
Building a House.
A building requires at least 3 types of people in order for the building to get built.
- The home-owners
- The architects, and
- The builders
The home-owners are going to live in the home.
In this day and age (and in the society we live in), no one would dream of building something of value without understanding what the home-owner needs.
Designing with home-owners is not a novel idea. It is a pre-requisite.
Not least because the home-opener is obliged to pay for the building materials, have the land to build on – and is stuck paying the ongoing bills.
Home-owners are not usually equipped with the specific skills that are required to build a house on their own. That’s why builders and architects exist.
Home-owners could probably learn, and ‘doing’ is the best teacher, but their first house wouldn’t be as good as their tenth or twentieth house.
The Architect has to design with the home-owner the best possible solution.
Typically the architects design the solution 3 times – each time getting clearer and clearer.
- In their head
- On paper
- Then in such a way that others can build from
Sometimes architectural plans are needed to get financing, government permissions and in order to work within the surrounding environment.
Architects are people who have actually built houses before and know what factors may need inclusion given the context of the site.
The builders are where people have to ‘do’ stuff.
The builders (tradespeople) have to lay foundations, erect walls, put in the circuitry and pipes and put a roof on. If they don’t do their “work” nothing happens.
Builders need to be paid, and the problem starts when builders don’t have confidence in getting paid.
Often builders are pragmatic and they will take payment after they have gone to the expense of the work. They understand when the building is complete and can be valued as a complete building. It is easier for them to be paid.
But what they fear most is not being paid fairly (whatever that is for them).
Building a Co-operative
We need all the same types of people when building a Co-operative.
The “Home-owners” are the Members
The “Architects” are the Founders
And the “Builders” are accountants, lawyers, web people, videographers etc that are critical to the doing.
The builders have been missing from the ecosystem for Co-operatives and that is why despite enthusiasm for commons and Co-operatives few are out there.
A Call Out For Builders
Now is the time that we need people with “been there done that” skills around business, marketing, finance, technology and communications to join incubator.coop.
Join and be part of the people “doing the do” and actually making new Co-operatives.