We have experience with a variety of different structures including cooperatives, partnerships, CICs and social enterprises of all types as well as more conventional limited companies. We resist a “one-size-fits-all” approach and aim instead to identify the structure that best serves and balances the multiple needs of the organisation and the people involved.
Examples of our recent support in this area include:
- Eco-car company Riversimple – a ground-breaking governance structure that balances multi-stakeholder interests.
- Twin charity/business structure for an entrepreneurial and ethical florist.
- Experiential workshops, drawing on constellation work (extensively used in family disputes) that helps individuals to view the system as a whole.
Considerations for a trust-based organisation
1. A Clear and consistent purpose/mission, objectives and values. A trust-based organisation aspires to be consistent and transparent (trust-worthy). It will be important to:
- Seek common ground with multiple stakeholders (e.g. staff, clients, suppliers & partners, and the needs of community and planet).
- Generate and sustain value with and for all the multiple stakeholders.
- Define a legal framework that is consistent with the values, purpose and day-to-day activities.
- Distinguish between ends (happiness, well-being) and means (money, power, information);
2. The flow of resources, products and services. A trust-based organisation holds and manages the flow of resources, products and services in trust for the community of multiple stakeholders (trusts). It will be important that:
- The organisation and its resources, products and services are embedded in the ecosystem. This will be reflected in its constitutional documents and the way it carries out its work.
- Loops of accountability are integrated within the processes of the organisation.
- Ultimately it is seen that there are no owners – only trustees acting for the community, environment and future generations.
3. The complex system of social relationships. A trust-based organisation will ensure that there is mutual support with its multiple stakeholders within the holarchy (trusteeship). It will be important to:
- Embed democratic freedom within the organisation through accountability, responsibility, mutual support and trust – all reflected in the organisational structure.
- Ensure that the organisational structure supports healthy and trustworthy relationships focused on creating value with and for the community of stakeholders.
- Support a culture that respects and encourages differences.
- Encourage people in the organisation to trust in their own abilities, their own resourcefulness, their own innate wisdom, integrity and sense of responsibility.
4. Ability to respond directly and appropriately to internal / external change. The trust-based organisation accepts accurate feedback and learns/adapts appropriately (trusting). It will be important to:
- Ensure effective and trustworthy processes for gathering relevant data that it can depend on (trust) to represent its current situation.
- Ensure openness, transparency and motivation (trust) to respond appropriately to change.
- Balance freedom and accountability in its governance processes;