The LETSystem Design Manual

5.3 Organisation for LETSystem Development

For consistency and coherence, our organisational basis should reflect the fundamentals of the LETSystem itself (see Section 1.3). These are taken into account when outlining the group process for development activities (see below).

Key points for organisation

We have identified key points which make an effective organisation for the task we have set ourselves. These are:

  • clear aims
  • open participation
  • rewards linked to results
  • flexibility
  • easy to copy.

Clear aims

If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there. Agreement on aims gives us a sense of shared work which holds us together even when events are moving fast and communications are poor.

Open Participation

We have set ourselves a large task which will be achieved more easily and quickly if we involve a large number of competent people.

Enthusiasm and talent is widely available. It is much easier to recruit that talent in a framework which emphasises participation and reward.

Open participation is achieved by a group which operates as a collective of independent individuals, each free to act as they choose. Work done on behalf of the group must be acceptable to the group as a whole.

Rewards according to results

To ensure continued commitment from competent contributors, rewards must be both available and fairly distributed. The risk of inadequate rewards is shared by all the participants and final distribution will reflect the quality and quantity of each individual's input. This puts a focus on results.

This allows a group to begin with a small amount of cash, paying minimal amounts to contributors. However, the agreed value of individual inputs is recorded in detail. The shortfall between amounts paid out and agreed values will be paid out when funds are available to do so.

This is a form of "sweat equity" which can be recorded as a LETShare and is consistent with the fundamental LETSystem philosophy.

Flexibility

Our task is a project: it has a beginning and an end. Both response and timescales are highly unpredictable. Even predictable projects are dynamic and require flexible, team based organisation. And different stages of a project require different skills and resources.

Response to LETSystem development will not be linear. Hence the need for an organisation that can grow rapidly. This is where the issues of aims, participation and rewards become vitally important.

Replication

Many problems associated with large organisations can be avoided by working as a federation of small groups, all adopting similar protocols along the above lines. Success can establish successful patterns which can be learnt and easily put into practice by others, enabling rapid growth when required. And it's much more fun than being a small cog in a big wheel.

Development Groups

All LETSystem operational process and administration should reflect, or follow the pattern of, the LETSystem process itself - the community managing its own best interests.

It follows that the development group:

  • must be as open as possible,
  • allows participation by as many as want and are able to contribute,
  • must have an equitable and effective decision-making process,
  • must not become the exclusive territory of any particular individual or group.

Naturally, the design of organisations for LETSystem development will also follow this direction.

Landsman's recommendations for development efforts use the LETShare model :

  • anyone can contribute
  • each says what they think they have contributed
  • the group accepts the submission, or responds to it
  • if your act isn't supported, perhaps you can change it
  • nobody is in charge
  • decisions are personal and group
  • if you can't get support for your ideas, you can still do them yourself, and see if the group likes the results
  • incentive systems are group rather than individual.

A system that embodies the ethics and practice of good community will not thrive if its support organizations fail to reflect these same values.

Detailed procedures will of course vary from place to place.

Generally, participants will file statements of their contribution (submissions for acknowledgement) on a regular basis - probably weekly or monthly - citing time, money and other expenses attributable to their work on LETSystem development.

Through ongoing discussion of these submissions, budgets will be allocated and, eventually, revenues distributed.

With regard to further levels of organisation, the same considerations are highly recommended. Initially, central funding may be usefully applied in all sorts of ways. However, any such organization can only be considered successful if it stimulates grass-roots action that in turn develops resources from local operations to provide continuing support to a national/wide regional body.

If further funding is necessary, something is wrong.

Landsman's recommendation for any large-regional (e.g. national) organisation is that it be composed of resources and contributions from participating local regional development groups in that territory.

The revenues generated at the local regional level - through the collaboration of natural affiliations of registries and activists - should be sufficient to underwrite the ongoing costs of networking amongst those regions, and in due course repay any initial funding.

Once things are moving well, minimal funds will be necessary to keep the network effective, as much of the action and co-ordination can be in the form of direct contributions by the regional development groups. Thus, one region might sponsor a conference, another might produce adminstrative training materials, another explore legal issues, another design software, etc etc. The coordination will ensure that there is good communication, that duplication of effort isn't excessive, and that the recording of contributions provides a measure whereby continuing support is negotiated.

Regional Development Group Process

The group operates as a collective of independents, each free to act as they choose, and required to ratify their contribution with the whole.

The LETShare model is to be used to record accounts and determine how revenues deriving from the program are distributed.

Control of finances is vested in those liable for borrowed funds.

Incentives are implemented to encourage broadest distribution of funds to finance as many participants as possible. Incentives should be conservative, ethical, and consistent with overall program design.

The development group acts as a channel for receiving and distributing funds. It does not acquire assets; equipment, premises, etc are leased, preferably from a community equipment co-operative.

Summary

Sections 5.0 to 5.3 can be summarised as follows:

  • Premises
    • eventually universal
    • multi-registry / multi-system / multi-administration
    • extractive methods insupportable in long term (self-defeating)
    • setting precedents
    • means must be related to ends
  • Consequences

    • service rather than extraction
    • inhibit rather than stimulate speculative interests
    • non - exclusive
    • group efforts / group rewards
    • no commissions / no territory
  • Arrangements

    • Local money systems recognised as personal money
    • Administrations approved by Registry stewards for acceptance of registration
    • Processing fee £5/10/15 as determined by Registry, and paid to Registry, for provision of account services through the general LETSystem of that Registry. This is intended to underwrite cash component of LETSystem operational costs for approx. 2 years

Business accounts registered as above are only processed by approved administrations where a "£50 plus £50 local" contribution to community - CtC - has been made.

CtC works through:

direct allocation of £50/£50local to chosen charity / project

or

direct allocation of £50 to LETSfund operated by LETSystem and £50 local to LETSystem commercial administration reserve

In acknowledgement of generation of the funds flow to the listing charities / projects / loan funds, a fee for service, between a minimum 10% in cities and a maximum 20% in small or rural communities, is remitted to the Regional Development Group.


Landsman Community Services Ltd Paper No.5.3 Version No 1.3 17 August 94
Written by Michael Linton of Landsman Community Services Ltd. and Angus Soutar of Robert Soutar Ltd.
Compiled 10-01-95 by Andy Blunt and Adrian Steele of LETSgo Manchester
Sources:
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