I started researching worker-owned cooperative structures early on in the development of my business. My questions about workplace environments and dynamics were some of the main reasons i decided to go into business. research was part of my homework to figure out what the heck i was doing. I even drafted legal documents to share ownership and had meetings to engage employees as owners, etc.
But I couldn’t get commitment /buy-in from most employees, in fact some were not at all interested in being a part of a worker owned co-op.
After several conversations with friends and colleagues, i started to wonder if i was chasing some unachievable utopian dream of “shared responsibility” and “equal empowerment”.
I thought long and hard about this.
here i am still thinking about
I also started to wonder if i was really just trying to evade taking my own full responsibility for my life by attempting to share responsibility with others. What is the problem we have in the workplace? we organize around a vision. Is it even possible to organize explicitly around the vision of a group? collective vision? would this only truly be possible in a total consensus model? Interesting take on that here http://peacenews.info/node/6863/activism-and-limits-consensus. Only where our values overlap, can we find connection. It’s a moment by moment thing. but should we shun each other for values we do not share in time together? or the moments where our values seem to be at odds?
does an employer/employee relationship assume that one person is the stronger and the other the weaker? i don’t see it that way.
organization requires leadership and it has to come from somewhere. It is obviously ideal if it comes from multiple sources and in multiple areas. People need to have shared values in order to work together sucessfully. Sometimes leaders emerge out of necessity, out of individual capacity for tasks that are vital and valuable to the organization, sometimes out of sheer luck, or sheer brutality.
As far as I can tell, and I’m still learning, what i see as the role of a leader is balancing of the needs of all constituents of an organization. Cultivating vision and bringing that vision in to reality. What does it take to make good decisions? of course, a leader who does not take into account the concerns of their co-workers, will certainly have a tough time succeeding without some serious jedi mind tricks.
my sense of a “traditional” business, at least how i define a business at present, is sort of a cooperation between all the forces at work in an org, the workers, the customers, the culture, the community, the planet, the market, and, of course, the bureaucrats.. for me, it’s a delicate balancing act. perhaps i should be not be offended by the friend that told me i should join the circus if Metro Pedal didn’t work out.
Anyway, in my experience, I find businesses are all cooperative by nature. i observe a business as being in a fragile state of balance within an eco-system. A business, any group, by nature, operates in a fluid network and by a dynamic set of values. to achieve specific goals and objectives. members of the eco-system interact with each other. the needs and capabilities of constituents must be carefully balanced and equilibrium is dilligently maintained. that’s what business is.
what are our shared values?
sometimes it feels like I’m frantically bailing water out of a leaky boat. other times it feels like a beautifully choreographed play, with a brilliant and exciting cast of characters.
balance is key.
I consider cooperation to be naturally a crucial factor in social/economic arrangements. We don’t need to force it any more than we need to force feelings of compassion for our loved ones in their times of need.