Eric Magnuson

My unique intersection of cooperation, sustainable business and local living economies.

Until I re-prioritize blog publishing, all my contributions to the noise can be found on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How long does it take to incorporate a worker cooperative?

This is a question that I haven't had an answer to for quite a while. What I am learning is that the process of creating bylaws is not in itself difficult or time consuming, however going through that process with seven people is. The progress we are making is rewarding and probably as fast as it can be given we are all working full-time delivering Web Collective services. Are you wondering how this works when creating a worker cooperative?

Me and the two others on the bylaws committee are spending our time uncovering the key questions relating to how we want to structure and govern ourselves. For each question we come up with a proposal and then we present those proposals to the rest of the Collective. Proposals sometimes generate more quesitons and get sent back to committee which means we conmtinue our work. We didn't start from scratch, we started with the model bylaws published by the ICA Group combined with the bylaws of Oly Washington's coop Beluga Software. With these bylaws we identified about 30 questions and 30 proposals. We've been working on bylaws now for about three months.

What I've learned is that while much of bylaws are boilerplate and seemingly obvious, there are plenty of points that invite deep introspection into what kind of business you want to be. Combine that with the process of dialog with others and education of the rest of the members and we are really discovering who The Web Collective is.

We are all optimistic we can have these bylaws wrapped up by the beginning of April. If you are interested in what we came up with let me know. We're happy to share.

Labels: ,


  • At 10:39 AM, Blogger Kevin said…

    He Eric: Sounds neat.. but a lot of work.

    Is it the creation of the governance system that is hugely time consuming or is it the actual governance that is? It sounds like all decisions that the 6 of you are processing take vast amounts of time and committees and such. Are those the decisions on what the bylaws are going to be or is that the way the cooperative will always run?



  • At 7:35 PM, Blogger Eric Magnuson said…

    Thanks for asking! If we do it right, it is creation phase that is most time consuming. A good governance system will not take that much effort to use because it will be so intuitive and clear. That is, of course, the goal. The bylaws are really only the skeleton of the governance system. As soon as we have that set of rules decided on we begin the much longer process of creating policies. Policy development is where we will rely much more on committee work, thankfully.

    Good to hear from ya... dad.

  • At 4:31 PM, Blogger William Hertling said…

    Eric, how does your experience with the governance system of your cooperative compare with the BGI Business Law class assignment to create a governance structure? Did the class assignment inform the process you're going through with your real-life cooperative?

    This sounds awesome. Will you share your articles publicly when finished?

  • At 9:27 PM, Blogger Eric Magnuson said…

    We will certainly post our articles to our company site once we have one. You know, the law class taught me one very important thing, when in doubt call a lawyer. We did work with attorney by the name of Joel Merkel ( who has some experience with coops. He helped us make sure we met the state's statutes which was a huge piece of mind.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home