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Complexity: its constraints on social innovation (Part #4)

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1. This approach has the advantage that it could be developed into a loose organizational and financial framework which would I. attractive both as a means of managing assets and as a sound economic basis for promoting many alternative activities.

2. It has the merit of appealing to individuals who are unable to organize or finance an alternative use of their resources in a satisfactory manner - either because of lack of experience, skills or simply their Isolation from others with similar preoccupations. By linking such isolated initiatives or potential initiatives a much more powerful resource basis is created which is a guarantee of their continuing success. The argument of this paper is that the problems of many isolated initiatives are only really soluble within some larger organizational and financial context -- however loose this may be. The larger context can provide a pool of experience and skills to overcome the peculiar problems of each isolated project.

3. It is the creation of a larger context which is the present challenge, for it is such a context which would provide many of the essential multiplier, synergetic and catalytic effects and opportunities which are absent from isolated projects. If such a project could be appropriately promoted it could result in a very powerful (although minimally organized) network which would be an appropriate channel and focus for many initiatives, which cannot be linked to the alternative formulae currently advocated (and which are therefore locked into some inadequate linkage to the conventional system - despite the desire of those concerned to act otherwise).

4. The proposal does not represent an effort to organize and bureaucratize alternative initiatives. Rather it is an attempt to make available a range of organizational and financial packages such that, to the extent that they are found appropriate and are used for whatever period, they will provide an organic interlinkage between initiatives - thus enhancing the viability of the whole.

Whilst the proposal is directed to a group which has not yet been able to switch resources in support of alternative initiatives, clearly many of the organizational and financial packages could well appeal to existing alternative initiatives.

5. For those who consider that the general economic and socio-political situation will continue to deteriorate, the existence of such a network constitutes a useful form of insurance and a safeguard in the event .f economic collapse. Under such circumstances the ability to participate in networks with a non-economic component could be essential to well-being. Such a network could be the basis for a viable form of self-reliance.

6. Many features of this proposal stress a degree of de-structuring and flexibility which could be interpreted either as leading to a lack of operational coherence in the network as a whole or as blurring into the existing range of overlapping and interlinking initiatives. It is the strength of the project, however, that it can build flexibly from an existing position towards whatever degree of operational coherence is desired by different parts of the network.

It would be important for the network to ensure that creative thought was continually given to the identification of more suitable organizational and financial devices

(a) to respond to people who would otherwise be unable to link their activities to those of the network (b) to ensure that the network uses appropriate forms to avoid being blocked by legal or bureaucratic restrictions in particular countries.

In fact, the network might well be characterized more by the new kinds of organizational or other form being introduced at any time rather than by its dependence on well-tried forms.

7. Clearly in its present form this proposal merely outlines a number of lines of Investigations which could be pursued and developed into a coherent proposal based on a range of formulae for participation and with an indication of the range of services and opportunities which would emerge as the network grew.


Examples of some existing organizational/financial special forms possibly relevant to this proposal

  • clubs with reciprocal membership (e.g. Rotary)
  • bank with reciprocal arrangements (e.g. Eurocheck)
  • cross-linking directorships
  • exchange housing schemes for academics on sabbatical leave
  • corporate foundations, family corporations
  • free lance personnel services
  • not-for-profit research corporations
  • sanatoria, convalescent homes, intensive care centers
  • "solve-your-problem" services (e.g. universal aunt)
  • people-exchange clubs (e.g. Experiment in International Living)
  • consortia, project-based consortia
  • monasteries, missions (e.g. Divine Light Mission residential centers)
  • trade associations, producer associations, freight conferences
  • employers organizations,institutes of directors
  • hotel chain, restaurant chain
  • cooperatives
  • youth hostel network, camping ground network

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