Eric Magnuson

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

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.

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