On January 1, 2012 we officially converted our company from a single owned (S-Corp) to a business cooperative. What this means: each worker can own a share but no one person can own more than 1 share. According to the National Cooperative Business Association there are several types of cooperatives; we are a worker-owned business cooperative. Our principles are simple: as a consultancy firm we put the client first and hire the best people who can deliver creatively; we usher in a new way of thinking, linking and doing; and we are people who have an ownership mindset. At the end of the day, we must meet a need with an exceptional and responsive product or service! This goes beyond "quality" this is about anticipating as well as inquiring what must be done or uncovered. We then look at immediate and emergent conditions and give a lens to our clients to foresee what is coming "around the corner," so they can be creative with options, rather than react to excuses!
For 2012 we are focused on growth and being a leader for innovative facilitation and breakthrough practices. In fact, every one of our consulting partners brings a perspective that innovates or creates movements as well as a book of business.
How did we get here?
We have always been inspired by the bold experiment John Abrams of South Mountain Company put forward in 1987: to convert from a sole proprietorship and re-structure as a worker-owned cooperative. This was no easy task...to let go of control, be open to shared decision making which can be so slow and sloppy. What prevailed was a business model that would invest in the producers, the "workers" of the product who cared and loved the work. This wasn't just about power, this was about ownership of the outcomes and in John's case, building the house, the tangible product! We believe we can take this into the creative "intangibles" where consultants as creatives can build something where the idea goes beyond a trademark and becomes a way or process that an organization can honor. This way, in turn, can teach others to make a product that turns a profit and that benefits all of those who work on it...including the community!
Read here for more about John Abrams journey to transform his company to a Cooperative: http://www.southmountain.com/?category=2&;section=5&place=Sharing+the+Reins
What do we care about?
For New Commons, the 21st century requires new thinking, new ways of linking and new forms of doing. To rise to these demands, New Commons is not your typical organization. Instead of everyone being an employee, we combine owners, associates, and strategic partnerships in our web of relationships. With this diverse team we are better able to surround our clients with just the right talent needed. We realize that structure is important but not the end--so the question of how can we behave in a way that allows for both innovation and stabilization is being tested daily and our structure as a business cooperative is facilitating this for all members.
At New Commons members and associates enjoy what Charles Handy in his book “The Age of Paradox,” calls “twin citizenship”. With such citizenship each person is deftly loyal to his or her brand as well as to the collective, the New Commons. This twin citizenship is a loyality to respond to both a client;s local need while also staying consistant in the larger New Commons shared resources and principles.
This is the year of the Cooperative! 2012 is the International Year of the Co-op: http://usa2012.coop/
All around the world, in the year 2012 people will celebrate a business model that puts people first, innovates to meet member need and provides local service while being part of a global network. We value this conversation as being about what is possible for shared risk and business. Why do we have to put all the reinsof control on just a few "share holders" when the stakeholders reap the benefits and the long-term risks if a business fails or worse, pollutes, abuses, or fails the very people it is meant to serve or employ: customers, vendors, employees, cities, towns, states and the US?
Yeah, we get that markets change and economist anticipate a boom and bust every 7 - 10 years. But really, does that have to be the norm when clearly we realize that small businesses make up 99.7% of employer firms?* Please...let's get real about what is possible: the cooperative is, yet, just one of many different models that can work in our new, brave world!