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  • Chelsea Robinson

14 Key Success Factors

The following is a selection of patterns and concepts we we found to be key success factors driving the case studies we researched. We believe that combining these concepts in practice could help you successfully build infrastructure for shared ownership from the bottom up. These concepts can foster economic revitalization and build shared surplus for communities, regions, or sectors suffering from the long-term damages of over-extraction, and growth at all costs.


The contents of this blog are an excerpt of the Introduction of the Book 'Assets in Common' and are copyrighted.

Conscious Consolidation

 

Many leaders are aggregating assets into unifying entities like holding companies or multi-stakeholder cooperatives. Achieving this via typical structures can be a slippery slope to monopoly and cartel behavior. However, when designed with shared ownership and stewardship, these can create value for stakeholders and long-term missions. Conscious consolidation can help with efficiency gains and greater influence in the market.

Shared Balance Sheets

Pooling assets in shared legal containers can create mechanisms for resilience and liquidity at scale. Putting many buildings, employees, business units, funds, or loans onto shared balance sheets enables pre-tax internal trade. These larger balance sheets can be leveraged for growth, acquiring capital, extending credit to allies, or buffering against losses and layoffs.

Pragmatic Leaders

A motivated, practical leader is often behind infrastructure for shared ownership. These leaders typically have an operational mindset and a vision to create win-wins for their people, customers, and stakeholders while staying in line with regulators.

Companies Cooperating

Connected entities create infrastructure for shared ownership. Methods like cross-shareholding, or co-investment in co-owned services companies create connective tissue between businesses and assets. Entrepreneurship typically focuses on developing and leading one project, but infrastructure projects require entrepreneurial creativity in managing relationships between entities.

 

Monetary Policy and Sovereignty

Monetary policy is typically considered the role of the state. It determines how the central bank controls the money supply and promotes price stability. It involves managing interest rates, setting bank reserve requirements, and influencing credit availability in the economy. These kinds of policies can be generated within networks of businesses with shared resources. Complementary currencies or internal network trade can be opportunities to redefine the role and value of money. Sovereign economic spaces can encode new incentives and imbue meaning to money itself.

Municipal & Civic Integration

 

Municipalities and citizen-led initiatives can benefit from infrastructure for shared ownership. Connected business networks enhance worker empowerment and agency. Empowered people participate more actively in local developmental efforts. Community leaders can use shared ownership and stewardship for community assets, while local governments can aggregate regional resources onto shared balance sheets. These concepts are relevant and beneficial for regions and cities alike.

Regionalism and Place

 

Each locale has a history of how economic and cultural development occurred in that area. These historical drivers, such as settlements created among mining, shipping, or fabrication, can be sources of economic revitalization. Looking at the endogenous sources of economic development in a region can inspire a purpose for networks of business activities to grow from. Linking the past activities of a place to its desired future state can provide a strategy for developing infrastructure for shared ownership.

 

Trust and Purpose

 

A culture of trust and mutual support often helps networked entities thrive. While the motivation to aggregate assets for resilience can stem from desiring efficiency gains, it is strongest when driven by parties that have a desire to help each other succeed over time. However, if mutual care consistently outweighs purpose, the culture can stagnate and become an ‘in-crowd’. Cultures that balance trust and purpose, individuation and mutualism, are generative and can take risks together.

 

Pools and Closed Circuits

Infrastructure for shared ownership frequently emerges within walled gardens. Limiting participants can help mitigate the downside while generating shared benefits. In the default economy, this is achieved through systems like credit scores. In contexts of shared ownership and stewardship, there may be criteria of ‘fit’ for participating in a pool. One business’ performance profile may make it more or less suited to joining a group of other businesses.

Shared Economic Destiny

Relationships of long-term interdependence are a strong bedrock for operating network infrastructure. While short-termism is transactional, long-termism is purposeful and relational. Many of our case studies showcase business-to-business or intergenerational relationships, which prioritize the strength of the long-term relationship over short-term profitability. This does create tension; however, it is a developmental approach. Investing in the person, company, or relationship is expected to pay dividends indirectly over time. This is couched in a deeper stance that collective flourishing leads to individual flourishing.

Well-Managed Commons

The opposite of a tragedy of the commons is a well-managed commons. Rather than seeing cooperative enterprises as a cost center, co-investing in shared services and utilities can protect against challenges and accelerate growth. Investing in the management and governance of the shared systems is necessary for their success. Just as a building needs a facilities manager and a budget, projects bridging entities need leadership.

Reciprocity Mindset

Enlightened self-interest helps people understand that they will receive dividends on their generosity to shared pools of resources. Reciprocity is often thought of as a direct trade. However, in many cases of infrastructure for shared ownership, reciprocity is indirect. Fostering a mindset that places value on processes of indirect reciprocity aligns day-to-day acts of generosity with individual gain and overall collective thriving.

Seed Assets

In multiple case studies, people have used a seed company or an asset base to start a network of entities. Seed assets may be a fully functioning, existing entity such as a profitable business or a piece of land. Seed assets may already have monetary value in the default economy, which allows them to convert that value into starting a shared utility. Seed assets may also be of sufficient size and stability to invite other smaller entities to join their fray. Many business owners could consider whether their business can play this role. Many municipalities could consider whether their public assets can be carefully financialised for regional development.

Shared Services

Groups of people or organizations often set up services between them to share costs. This can take the form of setting up an accounting company that is dedicated to back-office services for a network of businesses. It is important to differentiate between privately owned services companies that are extracting value from a network and shared services that have been structured to ensure the network benefits from the success of that shared services venture.


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