16 June 2009

Organizational Models

Posted by Admin under: Forum; Organization; Sustainability .

We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the organizations we have, what’s right and what’s wrong with them, and what we need for our current societal crises.

It’s not because there is anything wrong with the organizations we have in the area of sustainability. It’s that we need many more of them, and we need ones that address whatever is missing. (This distinction, between “what’s wrong” and “what’s missing,” is one that was used to great effect by Werner Erhard, and Landmark Education is one of the models we will examine.) There is something wrong with our larger society, however, and our organization needs to address this.

It foundational to our work that humanity needs to change course, to alter its direction. It’s not even enough to “go green” in the hopes of creating a new economic boom like the last one, or the one before. When the boom-and-bust cycle becomes global, because all of our economies are connected; and when the net effect of the “boom” part of the cycle is damaging the ultimate foundation of the economy, namely the planet, then we can no longer accept the inevitability of this cycle.

Here are some of the organizations, and organizational models, that we’ve looked at:

  1. NetImpact
  2. Bioneers
  3. YPO / TEC
  4. Peak Potentials
  5. SecondLife
  6. Kiva.org
  7. Landmark Education
  8. Permaculture-related organizations
  9. New Voice of Business
  10. NJBIN
  11. Coop Power

Many of these are interesting in themselves; they are all different, and they are all successful; our focus here, however, is simply the way they are organized.

NetImpact

NetImpact is the closest to a business-oriented membership organization with similar goals:

Net Impact is an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire, educate, and equip individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world.

Part of its distinctive character is that it targets a particular audience – MBAs – and it has a very broad appeal to youthful idealism, energy, and international networking.

Spanning six continents, our membership makes up one of the most influential networks of MBAs, graduate students, and professionals in existence today. Net Impact members are current and emerging leaders in CSR, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, international development, and environmental sustainability who are actively improving the world.

The character of its membership is conveyed immediately by example:

To meet a few who are, click on the pictures below:

NetImpactMembers

– who appear to be smiling recent graduates, from different cultures and backgrounds.

A downloadable organizational document describes the founding of NetImpact by students in 1993, and the subsequent growth of the organization to what it is today, with more than 10,000 members.

The Net Impact network includes over 200 chapters in cities throughout the world and a small central office in San Francisco, CA with an operating budget of just over $1 million USD and a staff of sixteen full-time employees.

It also has a “theory of change,” and a strategic plan with five key priorities:

  1. Empower and enable current business leaders and professionals to improve the social and environmental impact and corporate responsibility of their organizations
  2. Equip and inspire the next generation of business leaders by transforming business education to integrate social, environmental and corporate responsibility topics into the programs
  3. Grow our global network by attracting new members, and launching and supporting chapters
  4. Provide outstanding value to all member segments, leading to better connections,  retention, education, engagement, and impact

  5. 5. Strengthen our brand, human capital, financial resources and technology to effectively achieve our world change and membership goals

Membership types include students, professionals, and faculty and administration, in the U.S. and abroad, with annual fees from $20 to $55; a free newsletter subscription; and a $400 lifetime membership.

Bioneers

http://www.bioneers.org/about/our-mission

YPO / TEC

http://www.ypo.org/

http://www.tecmidwest.com/

Peak Potentials

SecondLife

Kiva.org

Kiva is one of the strongest influences on the structure of our Program Investment Fund. Kiva’s mantra is “loans that change lives.” In their words, “Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.” How Kiva works is:

How Kiva Works

Choose an Entrepreneur, Lend, Get Repaid

The below diagram shows briefly how money gets from you to an entrepreneur, and back.

1) Lenders like you browse profiles of entrepreneurs in need, and choose someone to lend to. When they lend, using PayPal or their credit cards, Kiva collects the funds and then passes them along to one of our microfinance partners worldwide.

2) Kiva’s microfinance partners distribute the loan funds to the selected entrepreneur. Often, our partners also provide training and other assistance to maximize the entrepreneur’s chances of success.

3) Over time, the entrepreneur repays their loan. Repayment and other updates are posted on Kiva and emailed to lenders who wish to receive them.

4) When lenders get their money back, they can re-lend to someone else in need, donate their funds to Kiva (to cover operational expenses), or withdraw their funds.

From this we derived the idea of making the Fund a revolving loan fund, from which the contributors can at any time withdraw any unallocated balances in their account. One important difference, however, is that in our Fund the decisions to invest are made collectively rather than individually. We will solicit project proposals, and the contributing members will meet to consider them for funding.

Other aspects of the Fund are based on the principles of financial permaculture – since the Fund will make investments in community-oriented, triple-bottom-line projects – and the Transition Movement, credit unions, credit exchanges, special-purpose currencies, and traditional program and investment funds.

The total of all loans made through Kiva through June 2009 exceeded $4.9 million. Our current pledges for the Program Investment Fund (which is still being set up) stand at $5000.

Landmark Education

Werner Erhard, the founder of est (which stands for Erhard Seminars Training, but was also a play on the Latin verb “to be,”), the original predecessor to Landmark Education, has had a major influence on the lives of millions of people, but remains today much misunderstood and underappreciated. A new documentary (http://www.transformationfilm.com/index.html) and web site, http://www.wernererhard.com, are aimed at remedying this, but much controversy still surrounds not just Werner but also his later followers.

The key element of Erhard’s work is “transformation,” by which he means something like “a contextual shift from a state in which the content in your life is organized around the attempt to get satisfied or to survive – to attain satisfaction – or to protect or hold on to what you have got – to an experience of being satisfied, right now, and organizing the content of your life as an expression, manifestation and sharing of the experience of being satisfied, of being whole and complete, now.” (The est Standard Training, From the Journal of Individual Psychology, Volume 31, Number 1, May, 1975). From our perspective, what is important about transformation is the “figure-ground shift,” in which what was previously an unrecognized context becomes the recognized source of being and of meaning. In our time, it is principally the shift from an individual experience of self in the context of a world made up of other individuals, to the recognition of a global self expressed in the great variety not merely of human individuals but also of other life forms and of a living universe. It is also the shift from “scarcity” to “sufficiency,” and the shift from maximizing acquisition to maximizing contribution.

But our interest here is in how the organization was and is structured to deliver this shift in experience and perception. The graduates of Landmark and the Forum consider themselves to be part of a “network” (which is simply called “the network”), but there is no actual membership organization. What Landmark offers is “educational programs,” and “assisting” or volunteering at educational programs. There is also an unwillingness to become involved in any of the activities of the “graduates” – even though the promise of the programs is to increase effectiveness, integrity, and meaningfulness of these activities.

But alongside the Forum, Werner developed The Hunger Project, a remarkable organization which had contributors, projects, and events recognizing extraordinary service to humanity. There were also some other initiatives; altogether, Werner founded and/or funded seven different charitable organizations:

The Breakthrough Foundation
The CareGivers Project
The Education Network
The Holiday Project
The Hunger Project
The Mastery Foundation
The Werner Erhard Foundation

In this way a large number of people were able to collaborate and co-create change in the world.

There is no doubt that we would be inspired to have such an outcome; but our approach is a somewhat different one, because we believe it’s both possible and necessary to support a mass movement for changing the dominant paradigm.

Permaculture

http://permaculture.org.au/2008/06/26/the-permaculture-master-plan-permaculture-centres-worldwide/

Gaia University

Northeast Permaculture and Beyond

New Voice of Business

NJBIN

NJBIN is the New Jersey Business Incubator Network. This organization is a practical, and successful, coalition of the 14 “official” incubators in New Jersey, all but one of which receives some level of funding from the NJ Commission on Science and Technology. The group meets quarterly at different locations, and manages a joint fund in which each of the members has a say. In many ways it is run much as my neighborhood association: pragmatically, thoughtfully, and responsively. I don’t see our Fund management being much different.

Coop Power

“Co-op Power is a regional network of local communities creating a multi-class, multi-racial movement for a sustainable and just energy future. We are a consumer-owned energy cooperative serving New England and New York. Co-op Power’s Local Organizing Councils include Co-op Power Metro East (greater Boston), Co-op Power Franklin County, Co-op Power Hampshire County, Co-op Power Hampden County, and Co-op Power of Southern VT.”

One of the unique features is the way this group works with others:

Project Development and Project Financing
Co-op Power staff and volunteers can assist you with strategic planning, feasibility analysis, business planning, grant fundraising, and business development for your community-owned green jobs and green energy projects.
You can sign up people to be members of Co-op Power and ask them to direct 75% of their equity contribution to support the development of energy projects you are working on. Member equity can be used as an equity investment in your project or as a loan to your project once the Local Organizing Council and Co-op Power Board of Directors have signed off on your project. This project financing tool is a useful way to build direct community ownership in your project without having to go through the time and expense to set up a separate cooperative with a new line of products and services. It’s the most valuable tool Co-op Power has to offer. The Co-op Power network of energy groups brings valuable resources, sharing business plans, market research, consulting leads, and more.

Co-op Power supports groups of dedicated people in a local community to really make a difference, rather than reinventing the wheel, getting lost, doing lots of clerical work, and getting stuck only doing public education. If you’re ready to build sustainable energy in your community, Co-op Power’s resources could save you three years and more than $150,000 in development costs. You bring the ideas – wind turbines, biofuel plants, green jobs – we’ll help you make them a reality. When you work with Co-op Power you begin with an experienced team of consultants and support staff behind you right from the start so you can invest your time in the things that no one else can do – leading the community planning, decision making, and support that matter most.

Project Development and Project Financing

Co-op Power staff and volunteers can assist you with strategic planning, feasibility analysis, business planning, grant fundraising, and business development for your community-owned green jobs and green energy projects.

You can sign up people to be members of Co-op Power and ask them to direct 75% of their equity contribution to support the development of energy projects you are working on. Member equity can be used as an equity investment in your project or as a loan to your project once the Local Organizing Council and Co-op Power Board of Directors have signed off on your project. This project financing tool is a useful way to build direct community ownership in your project without having to go through the time and expense to set up a separate cooperative with a new line of products and services. It’s the most valuable tool Co-op Power has to offer. The Co-op Power network of energy groups brings valuable resources, sharing business plans, market research, consulting leads, and more.

This seems like an ideal, “partnership” approach to working with groups and individuals, that we can apply to supporting our member initiatives…

3 Comments so far...

The Sustainable Leadership Forum » Transformational Leadership Says:

19 June 2009 at 11:09 am.

[…] organization is designed to evolve, and draws on a variety of organizational models that have proven successful in other fields. Members invest time and money that is deposited to […]

douglas cohen Says:

21 June 2009 at 8:24 am.

Hi – Talk soon, Suggest putting above website on the Sustain Leadership Forum ‘Youth Page’ – with prompt to ‘Click Youth Team button’

douglas cohen Says:

26 June 2009 at 7:32 am.

The Inspired Futures Campaign – InterGenerational Partnerships for Livable Futures is the Youth Leadership development effort of the US Partnership. It is the US NGO, non-profit arm of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

There is a useful introductory and core idea that has been proposed: That one definition of Sustainability is: The lifelong, mutually beneficial ‘Conversation between the Generations’ is Sustainability.

YOU ARE INVITED, YOU ARE WELCOME
This campaign consists of a number of core initiatives and activities: Mounting ‘Youth Voice’ Delegations and speakers to local, regional and global conferences; supporting the leadership capacity and skills of youth as project members, leaders and founders of efforts, and ‘doers’ who bring sustainability initiatives alive in communities; a support network for resource sharing, creative ‘solutions seeking’ and a web of fellowship and dialogue that nurtures both the skills and spirit of its members through deep mutual regard. YOU ARE INVITED YOU ARE WELCOME

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