Working together

We use rhythms to balance freedom and focus

The evolution of our organisational structure

The swarm

In the earliest days of Loomio, we were organised as a "swarm" - we had open door meetings once a week, and anyone could rock up and help out. We ran a tiny crowdfunding campaign, and founded an LLC so we could have a bank account.

In 2012, the core team committed to the project, and we formed a worker-owned cooperative. There were still a lot of people contributing on a casual part time basis, but there was also a group of full time people who became co-owners. We raised a round of loans from friends and family, and convened a board.

Internally, we were "self-organised" and it was somewhat chaotic, but it worked for extremely flexible adaptation and lots of learning quickly. We focused on peer-to-peer support systems like stewardship, and having regular retreats.

Coordinated programs

In mid-2014, we completed a major crowdfunding campaign, which meant we suddenly had 1,600 new external stakeholders who were expecting us to deliver on our promises. This triggered us to develop a more explicit organisational structure.

We broke the team up into work programs, and nominated coordinators. Every program had a mandate to deliver a specific outcome, a share of the budget as allocated by the coop members, and a coordinator to maintain alignment within and between programs.

This system worked pretty well: we delivered on our crowdfunding promises and we learned a lot about how a democratic workplace can be super efficient.

Embracing agile

Then we evolved again, and became a fully agile team. We had always drawn on elements of agile organising in our software development practices, but it was when we started incorporating all work across the co-op into agile sprints that it really clicked together.

Every 3 months we stop and reassess the team makeup, the coordinators, and the budget to check: are we still making the absolute best use of this money that’s been entrusted to us? This made us super adaptive and efficient, but of course it was really disruptive too.

In late 2015 we raised money from impact investors, which finally brought us to a level of financial security where we could think more than 3 months ahead. This has enabled us to thinking long-term, resource a solid core team, and settle into a set of functional processes that address different perspectives and time-scales of our work.

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