Neo-collectivism is the future of organisational change

category - society
type - opinion
Neo-collectivism isn’t just a better brand image for socialism in a Web3 age, it’s the future of business and organisational change as we know it

Currently, about 730 co-operative style employee-owned companies operate in the UK, with the top 50 companies' combined sales standing at more than £21bn ($27bn, €25bn) in 2021 (source: EOA and The RM2 Partnership). In the US, employee-owned businesses hold assets worth a total £1.22 trillion ($1.6 trillion, €1.47 trillion), according to the National Center of Employee Ownership, while in Britain alone.

And yet, as business entities, such employee-owned (EO) companies are still relatively unknown – despite a 30% increase in EO companies in the UK in 2020, at a time when many businesses were having to be more agile than ever (source: EOA and White Rose). But this anonymity around EOs is about to change, for three reasons:

: Generation Z and their lust for socialism, collectivism, and co-operativism
: The rise of Web3 and its decentralised, distributive Alternet Economies
: The dawn of Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) with structures built on transparency and accountability

Combined, these attitudinal and technological advances are paving the way for B-Corps of a different kind – the B in this case standing for boss-less. These are not directionless, as many old school CEOs would have you believe, but future-facing Decentralised Autonomous Stakeholder Organisations, or DASOs, as I’ve dubbed them.

Here, employees are stakeholders – and all stakeholders, regardless of seniority, rank, or specialism, have one vote (or token) that is used to sanction, challenge, or mitigate decisions. As the tech futurist, Cathy Hackl puts it: ‘DAOs envision a collective organisation owned and managed by its members with all of them having a voice.’ My vision for DASOs take this concept further by allowing the collective members to be the organisation’s Collective Executive Officers – a new breed of CEO.

Here's how it works. DASOs are inaugurated based on ‘ideas-issue’ – where the purpose, product, mission, profit targets are agreed collectively. Some EOs are formed like this, but DASOs can also be developed by an individual innovator or incubator group, who then invite others to buy into the collective. At this point, the final rules and regulations of collective governance can be baked into a blockchain ledger.

Published by:

12 April 2022

Author: Martin Raymond

Image: Sam Miles for The Future Laboratory


Emergence, Universal Everything

DASOs run on a one-person, one vote-token system where all members are equal regardless of their skills, job titles or seniority. This way, no super stakeholders can exist and decisions, guided by the collective and locked-down ledger are always public, recorded, and subject to ongoing independent scrutiny. Thus, majority bad decisions, minority good decisions, or majority good and bad decisions can be tracked, scrutinised and assessed to positively inform future choices, and policy.

At this level, anybody who understands distributive network theory will know that a kind of self-organisation kicks in, whereby people tend to form loose skills, talent, and execution hubs based on the DASO’s purpose, and how is it to be delivered.

Global white goods brand Haier works to similar principles, where ‘micro-enterprises’ work within a wider eco-system so each can call on the other for help but is ultimately responsible for delivering on their ‘ideas-issue’, and brand requirements (source: McKinsey). In such a case, fixed management layers don’t exist but like all emergent networks clusters they form around a problem, and work towards a solution.

As David Ehrlichman, author of Impact Networks explains it, when Hurricane Sandy struck in the US in 2012, Occupy Sandy volunteers self-organised, collectively agreed their priorities, roles, their key aims and objectives, and got on with the task of feeding people and saving lives. So successful was their emergent decision making, that the American Red Cross delivered supplies directly to them, for wider distribution.

These then, are the principles of DASOs: employees-owned trusts or organisations that are self-governed, bound to the blockchain, transparent, emergent, and demand that everyone in the system is answerable to the many.

To paraphrase Ehrlichman, for them to succeed, we need to foster strong relationships, decentralised connections, and never be dependent on a singular, dominant voice – that know-it-all CEO in other words, who sees power in reigning voices in, rather than allowing them to become collaborative arrays that work things out.

‘We need to foster strong relationships, decentralised connections, and never be dependent on a singular, dominant voice – that know-it-all CEO’
Martin Raymond, co-founder, The Future Laboratory

Get our weekly newsletter straight to your inbox


Want to unlock more?
This is a taster of the content we publish for members of LS:N Global

Sign up to our trends intelligence platform LS:N Global and get unlimited access to a hive of insights - from microtrends and macrotrends to market reports, daily news, research across eight industry sectors.

Discover our memberships

Already a member? Click here to login