Important ingredients for collaborative enterprise

Moving from concept to implementation

As a collaborative enterprise moves from concept to implementation, it must develop practical systems and solutions with a focus on process and compliance.

This involves understanding and defining needs. It also means growing capabilities and systems within the enterprise and its community that are accountable, transparent and sustainable, embracing best practice. It encompasses traditional governance practices, but with a broader view of participation and engagement of members and community.

The outcome should be stronger people and quality systems for today and for the future, with clear positive values and inclusive leadership.

For us, this falls in into three broad interconnected areas – Building & Retaining Community Assets, Ownership Planning, and Creating Governance Systems.

Building & Retaining Community Assets

Communities are groups of people brought together by location, interests, beliefs, employment and many other reasons. Striving for self-sufficiency and using local resources to create and maintain community assets leads to financial freedom building community capacity and social capital, as the community builds a stake in their future.

There is a need to understand how to plan and approach asset building and retention. How to define the community and what connects them, how to engage with the community, and how to identify the key assets.

There is a need to understand what is available by way of structures and methods of collaboration. What are the options for possible legal models and hybrid solutions, and what emerging thinking and approaches could be used.

The merging of these two streams can lead to a picture of how the community might take ownership and move ideas into action.

Ownership Planning

Whether it be a new venture or change within an existing one, the dynamics and matters that arise with multiple owners are often overlooked. Business planning is taken for granted but ownership planning is rarely done.

Structure follows strategy. A clear understanding of the shape of the enterprise, its elements, and how it functions should be reached and agreed among the owners before taking the first steps to commission a legal entity. We believe the best outcome starts with an ownership plan.

An Ownership Plan should define the Members; the Member Proposition; Common Interest and Linkages; and Viability Levels of Membership, Income, and Capital.

Mercury has identified eight Impact Clusters that will affect the shape of an enterprise and should be dealt with as part of the ownership planning process. These are Owner Composition (the makeup of the owners); Governance Structure (the governance mechanisms); Control (who will control the enterprise and how); Market place (a place to trade shares); Affordability and Risk (can and should the new owners invest in the enterprise); Connecting to Ownership (participating and identifying as owners); Business Intangibles (the intangible assets of the enterprise); and Change Planning (how change will occur).

Creating Governance Systems

A legal entity contains individual people, groups, policies and processes interacting with each other according to the law. The systems that govern the entity need to be formed to achieve the best outcome for all stakeholders.

It is crucially important for a collaborative enterprise to have a governance system that works well and provides accountability and transparency, as well as supporting the sustainability and viability of the enterprise.

As well as traditional governance systems, Social Accounting provides a way of maximising the positive impact on society by the organisation by improving its performance, enabling engagement with its community, and providing a key point of differentiation in a sometimes crowded market place.

Collaborative Enterprise Stewardship

Leaders in a collaborate enterprise have a responsibility to take care of that which belongs to someone else, and pass it on better that they received it. They need to guard, protect and grow the enterprise, having a positive impact and create a stronger enterprise which is successful and sustainable, by building the business.

They need to generate ethical & sustainable income resources, identifying and exploiting market opportunities, and building a resilient financial and future-proofed legacy.

Building Income & Capital

Developing sustainable and strong community assets requires a clear focus on income streams and growing capital. An enterprise reliant on ongoing support from others risks dependency and a loss of control of direction.

Ensuring a viable income stream is a key challenge of any organisation, and a collaborative one is no different. It is vital that a community work with its people and enterprises to identify resources and resource building strategies.

Kick starting a project or enterprise with community support often adds value by way of social capital. Planned giving programs are a method of collecting vital seed funding.

In the longer term, reliable income flows and clear planning leads to the creation of capital and increasing independence for the community leading and greater economic participation.

Product|Service Market Clarity

The key to a successfull collaborative enterpirise is identifying and refining the products and services offered.

Understanding the product/service offerring enables an enterprise to maximise their value to the consumer and to the organisation.