Does Your Vision Call For Agreements Designed to Mimic Nature and Create A Continuously Collaborative Culture?
So we’ve talked about how the purpose of the co-founder agreement is to stabilise the bonds between the cells/ participants, create a container that lays a stable foundation for the culture of the organism you’re wanting to grow together to develop within, and firmly root and anchor the organism into the environment of current reality.
Note that I use the term 𝒪𝓇ℊ𝒶𝓃𝒾𝓈𝓂 rather than Organisation.
And that I refer to the Organism as something you’re “𝒷𝒾𝓇𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓃ℊ” together, wanting to “ℊ𝓇ℴ𝓌” together and to “𝓇ℴℴ𝓉” into current reality.
Because at this early stage it’s helpful to start aligning our language and how we conceptualise these things with how Nature does it.
Especially if the innovations that we’re birthing together are intended to bring us into greater and greater alignment with Nature’s intelligence.
It’s very normal for small groups with a shared vision (let’s call these “𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗣𝘂𝗿𝗽𝗼𝘀𝗲” to distinguish them from the tendency to associate them with a typical startup) to form companies, land-based communities, non-profits or churches together to support them in actualising their vision and purpose, and for those containers to have operating agreements (or the entity-specific equivalent), equity agreements and financial policies, contractor agreements and the like.
However, the agreements that Communities of Purpose will likely find out there on LegalZoom or from a traditional lawyer are pro formas typically designed to create rigid 𝚑𝚒𝚎𝚛𝚊𝚛𝚌𝚑𝚒𝚎𝚜.
And, for the record, there are circumstances when rigid hierarchies are very useful:
- ️In the military for example; or
- When you’re trying to mobilise a large number of people and send and consolidate information up a chain of command; or
- You need to respond to something urgently.
Hierarchy is essentially a command and control model that supports us to know which leader(s) to be entraining our attention on in order to follow.
Similarly to how we were taught in school to entrain our attention upon the teacher at the front of the room.
Or how in corporations, we were taught to follow our managers or the executives.
But as an organisational design model, hierarchy isn’t actually the best fit for maintaining creative freedom, inspiring consistent innovation, cultivating a habit of adaptability and a culture of aligned and creative collaboration.
For that we need 𝐀 𝐋𝐎𝐓 more autonomy.
I love how 𝗚𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝗛𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗹, one of the world’s most influential and iconoclastic business thinkers who has worked with leading companies across the globe speaks about it. He says,
“𝑶𝒏𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒘𝒆 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒂𝒏 𝒆𝒏𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒐𝒖𝒔 𝒂𝒎𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉 𝒊𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒔𝒉𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒌 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒃𝒐𝒅𝒚’𝒔 𝒂𝒖𝒕𝒐𝒏𝒐𝒎𝒚, 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒂𝒍𝒔𝒐 𝒔𝒉𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒌 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 𝒄𝒂𝒑𝒂𝒄𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒕𝒐 𝒊𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒗𝒂𝒕𝒆, 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒔𝒉𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒌 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 𝒊𝒏𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒔𝒉𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒌 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 𝒑𝒂𝒔𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏. 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆’𝒔 𝒂 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒐𝒏𝒍𝒚 13% 𝒐𝒇 𝒆𝒎𝒑𝒍𝒐𝒚𝒆𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒉𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒍𝒚 𝒆𝒏𝒈𝒂𝒈𝒆𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒌….”
Turns out, the conditions that Gary describes that support innovation, initiative and passion, are actually much more aligned to and deeply supported by a Heterarchical model of organisation.
And in case you’re not familiar with a Heterarchy, it’s essentially defined as:
“𝑎 𝑠𝑦𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑚 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑟𝑔𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑧𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑜𝑟𝑔𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑧𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑢𝑛𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑘𝑒𝑑 (𝑛𝑜𝑛-ℎ𝑖𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑟𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙) 𝑜𝑟 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑜𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑎𝑙 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑒 𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑘𝑒𝑑 𝑎 𝑛𝑢𝑚𝑏𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑑𝑖𝑓𝑓𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑦𝑠”
In a Heterarchy there’s no automatic rigid hierarchy, but hierarchies can exist within it and can also be created and dissolved temporarily.
So, coming back to the Light analogy, imagine:
- An idea or shared goal representing a point of Light that;
- The small group of individuals (the Communities of Purpose) are drawn to;
- To support the flourishing of the idea or the refraction of the point of Light;
- They each bring their unique perspective which is articulated through a “Pᴇʀsᴘᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ Lᴇɴs”;
- When these lenses are arranged correctly (or in alignment) around the shared goal, the conditions that allow the shared goal to be accomplished can be co-created.
Since Light doesn’t refract hierarchically, a hierarchical model of organisation doesn’t make sense. Hence the need for a different kind of distribution that allows the people to effectively shine their perspectives into the shared vision, through the lenses.
At this point I want to acknowledge and appreciate that if you’re reading this post, you’re probably the kind of person who is already implementing or seeking to implement a more progressive approach to governance in your team or organisation.
And I have no doubt that you:
- Probably really 𝒘𝒂𝒏𝒕 (and need) your team to step up into a balance of leadership with you;
- Are committed to an orientation of surrender and reeling back the impulses you have to control and micromanage things; and
- Are seeking to empower the people in your team to make decisions by making every effort to distribute decision-making.
That said, if you’ve currently got no operating agreement, or you’re working with one that’s designed for a hierarchical model, then by default you are agreeing (both consciously and subconsciously) into the energetic grooves of a set of antiquated existing structures that either you know very little, if anything about, likely don’t align with your values, and certainly don’t reflect or honour the essence of your relationship with the other members of your team OR Nature.
And no matter how much we choose it, or how hard we try to consciously counteract those patterns in how we interact with one another, there are a whole host of collective subconscious patterns of conditioning that we’re buying into by virtue of entering that agreement.
Those are the kinds of invisible grooves that our teams will very likely keep slipping into and sabotaging ourselves with, as long as our Communities of Purpose are essentially sitting on top of foundations that are built to engender compliance rather than trust, and are not designed or fit for our purposes.
So let’s bring this into an example many of us can probably relate to……
Think of your Operating Agreement and your Equity and Financial Policy like a marriage contract between you and your co-founders.
The kind of marriage contract that doesn’t care whether you stay together or not and certainly doesn’t support you to work through the issues that are arising.
The high divorce rate in marriage is nothing compared to the high divorce rate amongst co-founders. As investors know all too well,
CO-FOUNDER CONFLICT IS THE NO.1 CAUSE OF TEAM FAILURE
And teams fail 95% of the time in the first 2 years.
So, in circumstances where things get rocky and the relationship starts to break down, a traditional Operating Agreement outlines from a compliance perspective how the relationship is going to break apart, how it’s going to get adjudicated (typically in a court of law) and what penalties and payments get imposed on who for doing what.
It’s simply not rooted in the recognition that THE JOURNEY of co-creation that you’ll go through together IS THE PATH you’ll walk on your individual and group development journey to bring your shared vision to fruition.
And as such, it doesn’t support the group in staying committed to navigating the conflict which is naturally arising for the group to move through in the process of that individual and collective development.
Instead it defaults to a set of antiquated machinery that doesn’t reflect the value of your relationships, what you’re creating together or who you are and what you’re a stand for.
So if you’re a social innovator, devoted to coming into greater alignment with Nature, in service to the vision of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible, then you’ll need the kind of agreements that:
(1) Crystallise your commitment to your relationships with one another, with the requisite reverence of parents choosing to birth a creation (a baby) together into the world;
(2) Allow you to plug in and interface with existing reality, without drawing unnecessary or undue attention;
(3) Create a membrane around your budding Organism that preserves your internal culture (think of an exoskeleton that houses and protects the beauty and intelligence of what’s alive inside) and your choices to do things differently to the predominant cultural norms;
(4) Have all the mechanisms within them, that by living into them, continually cultivate and deepen your individual and group self-responsibility and field of trust;
(5) Are fluid, flexible, dynamic and adaptive to Life’s needs:
- Allowing your team members to lean in and lean out of your Community of Purpose without killing the Organism or destroying your relationships;
- Enabling your team members to centralize power, instead of freezing or shutting down, if the Organism goes into fight or flight and needs clear direction;
- Giving authority to each team member to act and empowering them to make decisions;
- With sufficient room for the inevitable tensions to move through the system as the emotional/relational elements arise to be alchemized.
Which is why, it would seem, that my teammates and I have found ourselves on a deep relational journey this past 4.5 years, which has involved re-imagining and reinventing a new legal suite for embodying a heterarchical model of organisation, to support new-paradigm visionary founders of scalable innovative social-impact communities of purpose.
So, if you’re someone providing transformational solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our time and you’re committed to doing it in collaboration and in alignment with Nature, I invite you to DM me for a connection call.
On it we’ll explore how I can support you in grounding your vision through an aligned agreement field that supports you and your team to continually contribute in highest service as you navigate the co-creative journey together.