A co-op is made up of people. The We Are Open Co-op is made up of people who care about openness. Now, people coming together means that a certain group dynamic is established. Our current configuration is made up of 3 founding members. Our current group dynamic is supportive and chummy. We are direct, honest and transparent.
We have talked a lot about the kinds of members we want to have and have established this short list.
Reliability: In order to assess reliability, the We Are Open Co-op works together with potential members on projects.
Integrity (Emotional Maturity): We don't have a questionnaire for this. We work with people we know, which means that if you don't know any of us, you'll need to get to know us. How? Well, join our Slack channel, read our stuff, write us, reach out. We are all over the web. Don't be afraid.
Commitment: We want people who care about the co-op, and make time for it. Everyone has more or less time for things, We understand. However, we have a few things we look at as a show of commitment:
- Weekly Meetings: We meet for an hour every week to talk about work we have on.
- Monthly half days: Paid half days specifically for co-op business.
- A Year of Involvement
- £100 buy in and as an annual fee. Our induction date is May 1st.
We think the following list sums up the major benefits of joining:
- Combined Ideas: The founding members of the We Are Open Co-op have extensive backgrounds in a variety of fields. We all see things differently. Sometimes we riff off each other and find that two ideas is better than one. It's led us to some amazing work.
- Combined Networks: We have overlapping networks, not the same networks. Combined, we know people from every field and every industry. Except for someone who works in gummy bear manufacturing. We don't know anyone in that line of work. Do you?
- Combined Influence: We don't want to toot our own horns, but we've learned how to get over our imposter syndrome and play the career game. We had some wins, people think we're smart, so for new members there's a potential for credibility. That feels weird to say, but it's true. Our collective CV's are all impressive and stuff.
Additionally, we've talked about how freelancers feel. We know the ups and downs of client projects. It's always abundance or drought. One of the benefits of the co-op structure is it's a place where others understand the conceptual issues a freelancer has around job security and stability. We get it, sometimes it's tricky. The We Are Open Co-op also doesn't guarantee work. But you'll find solidarity with us.
Our newest member blogged about why she wanted to join We Are Open Co-op.
- You reach out to us (or we tap you on the shoulder).
- We invite you to join our Slack channel.
- We need to work together! Either you bring a project to us or the co-op invites you to get involved with an upcoming client project.
- You work with us on the project. If we feel like the cooperation has been a success, we issue you the Cooperator Badge!
- You've already earned the Cooperator badge.
- We invite you to one of our monthly Co-op days. You'll get to know the other members and be paid the co-op rate to work with us on co-op business.
- You apply for membership.
- .coop email address
- @WeAreOpenCoop shared twitter account (access via tweetdeck)
- Members' channel on slack
- Weekly meetings, agenda/notes
- Invite to remote 1/2 day working session each month
- Invite to in-person meetup every 6 months
- Membership of WAO org on github
- We are open community projects portal on Open Collective
- A dormant member is not expected to come to the weekly meetings (active members are)
- They won't be asked to work on projects until they decide they want to (we're not going to hassle you)
- They have to continue to pay yearly membership dues (no dues, no membership)
- Dormant members can stay informed by reading slack or coming to any meetings they want (we're not taking away your access!)
- They are welcome to join co-op days, and regardless of their dormancy, the Pot will take care of their IRL Co-op Day expenses.
- Dormant members have a voice. They have access, and ALL members have the co-op's ear. If a dormant member sees something and wants to comment on it, the co-op will take their comments into consideration.)
- While members absolutely have a voice, they may not have a vote. If a member is dormant, the Co-op is not required to solicit a vote. The member can show up to a vote, but we make decisions about the business in our weekly meeting. If a dormant member isn't participating, they might not know we're voting on a thing.
- A member may be dormant for up to a year. After that time, the Co-op reserves the right to "retire" the member (though we didn't talk about how that works exactly!) - We think it would trigger a conversation about the value being in the co-op is bringing them (and the value of their being in the co-op to the co-op…)
To ensure continuity with project work and client contacts, we ask members to adhere to a 3 month resignation period. Members can officially resign by sending an email to other members in which it is stated that the member intends to resign in 3 months from the date of the email.
We are always looking to widen our network and are open to working with people or organisations as partners.
Well in our context, a partner might help us with the following:
Connections: You might be an individual, an organisation, another Co-op, who would like to connect with us because we share similar visions or aspirations. This may be for a particular project or just because you like us and we like you, where we partner to jointly raise awareness of something we believe in, to communicate a message or to show solidarity on an issue.
Collaboration: We are sometimes approached to do work that we know would benefit from skills or experience we don't have. In this case, we might partner with other individuals or organisations to deliver the work.
Discovery: We are always interested in new and exciting projects and seeing where we can add value. We are open to connecting with others to discuss prospective work or to collaborate on bids aligned to our purpose.
Openness: We don't need you to have exactly the same vision as us but we do need you to respect the concepts of openness and be willing to work with us in an open way. We like open mindededness and working in an open manner (eg sharing processes and work openly).
Enhancement: Can you help us to extend what we do or bring additional skills to a project you think we could both work on? We love new ideas, new challenges and to deliver the best work we can, so if you think a partnership would enable us to enhance a proposal or a piece of work, get in touch.
Excellence: We want to partner with people who care about delivering great outcomes. How will we know that? Well, we would want to get to know you and see some examples of projects you have worked on and ideally, the story behind how you approached the work and handled it successfully.
- You reach out to us (or we tap you on the shoulder).
- You tell us why you would like to partner with us and how you meet the criteria that we look for in partners: Openness; Enhancement; Excellence.
- We discuss the project or reason why you would like to partner with us and share examples of previous work. If we feel like the partnership would be mutually beneficial, we agree some work we can do together and see how we get on.
- If the partnership is a success, we issue you the Collaborator Badge!
- You've already earned the Collaborator badge.
- We invite you to one of our monthly Co-op days, where you'll get to know all the members of We Are Open Co-op.
- We co-create a Partnership Agreement relating to how we will work together, which all parties sign.