Work organisation - Circles

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This is a proposed structure for the internal work organisation of, in terms of 'circles'.

A circle is a peer-to-peer team of workers who execute day-to-day matters in the coop. Each circle engages with some aspect of the environment of the organisation. Circles are not specialist functional departments, but rather, 'spaces' where Operational members of the coop with different stakes in its capability - sysadmins, user account-holders, users of BBB rooms, coop and movement players in the new 'commons-cooperative economy', etc - can review current operations and actions, make commitments, and agree courses of action. Thus, circles are at the operational heart of a truly multi-stakeholder coop. Some of the actions will be routine (eg administration of user accounts) and some will be developmental (eg deciding on and supervising/executing the development of tools or service-level bundles).

Membership of circles is voluntary, comprising 'operational' members of the coop (see Classes of membership), and the work that is conducted by circles is designated and reviewed by the coop (see Governance). A circle member will typically contribute in more than one circle and each circle includes more than one kind of contributor - see Kinds of contribution. Both of these principles helps create the necessary 'weave' of one circle with another, with regard to both systemic vision and operational coordination.

The circles are listed below in rough order of their outward facing-ness - but the essential nature of any circle is to face the world outisde the coop, and facilitate the coop's contributions to that world in specific ways.

0 Stewards

This circle supports the work of the General assembly (meet.thing?) and is acountable to it. The circle acts as proxy between full assemblies, with regard to strategic steering, distribution of resources and operational priorities. It comprises a member from each of the other seven circles.

1 Economy

This circle addresses the ways in which the services of facilitate transition to a Commons cooperative economy. In due course, there may be a number of sector-oriented circles (see eg Open2020 Tools of collaboration - Day 1 -Sectors’). This circle calls for strong contribution from User member organisations, including a global North-South orientation. This circle is modelled on the contribution category of pro-bono commons-transition work, in the DisCO Governance Model. Reflecting the core purpose of the coop - to develop the commons-cooperative economy - this circle is the main locus for recruitment of new User organisations.

2 Rooms

The job of this circle is to accumulate expertise in how the coop's federated User organisations really need to use BBB rooms, what tools they need to have available in conjunction with rooms, and what the implications are for . .

  • medium term server/cluster/Greenlight development,
  • associated tools in the browser or on the desktop, together with integrations and bridges across apps and protocols
  • BBB user-education and support
  • service-level/fair-use practice.

This circle calls for strong contribution from User member organisations.

3 Front office

This circle addresses operational matters of digital infrastructure and service stability, administration of service-level bundles (user accounts) and public-facing documentation / FAQs / chat / Jekyll website / etc related to all User-member concerns. It also reviews needs for developments in the front-end of BBB provision, account administration and User reception. The circle comprises members of sysadmin operations organisations, organisations providing 'reception' and on-call chat/user service, and account admins from User-member organisations. The circle calls for strong contribution from User member organisations.

4 Events

This circle develops and holds expertise in organising service bundles of support for large scale or specialised events (eg conferences outside the scope of routine service levels) and custom pricing.

5 Contribution accounting

This circle handles all accounting matters, related to: payments to the coop and to individual coop members, accounting for hours, calculation of care-work credits, accumulations of credits, conversions of credits to payments, etc. It also is responsible for ensuring fairness in the rules under which these things are done, and the transparency with which these rules are applied in the conduct of accounting operations. A significant part of this transparency is likely to be achieved through computational means - a family of digital Contribution accounting tools. Such tools are under development by the Guerilla Translations coop, for example, in conjunction with the Mikorizal software coop, as an aspect of implementing the DisCO Governance Model.

6 Work organisation

This circle is responsible for certain kinds of organisational care work including . . work redesign (eg evolving circle practices), review of organisational routines and structures (including governance), internal digital tools. It is based on the category of 'organisation care work' in the DisCO Governance Model. This is the most internally oriented of the circles. Other, more outward-facing kinds of organisational care work - notably recruitment of User members - are performed by 1 Economy.

7 Community

This circle performs care work, oriented to . .

  • organisational culture . . the cycles & rhythms of life within the coop community, evolving habits & traditions
  • the onboarding, buddying, mentoring and ongoing learning of circle workers (and in support of this, a Operational members’ handbook)
  • wellbeing and compassionate relief of workers
  • rotations between circles
  • celebrations of peer culture and peer regard, and
  • the participation of women, global-majority/BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of colour), generational cohorts (young, middle, old-age) and language communities.

This circle is modelled on the category of ‘personal' care work in the DisCO Governance Model. It engages with the living experience of contributing within the coop, receiving support from peers as a contributor, and deepening the peer culture. Also with the match between peer culture and the coop's intended contributions in 'the world outside'.

This circle is paradoxically concerned with very 'internal' matters (conventionally and narrowly, they might be called 'HR') and personal relationships, and at the same time, it is deeply connected with the cultural environment of the coop, and the communities that the coop means to serve.


This is a relatively complex organisation. Not all the circles need to be established with the same force at the same time.

Operationally, the most urgent are . .

  • 3 Front office
  • 5 Contribution accounting

6 Work organisation will exist de-facto, as the residue of the 'governance' team which has been meeting in early stages of the coop, as the other circles get started up.

7 Community is a natural 'cultural' and behavioural counterpart to the more 'transactional' focus of 5 Contribution accounting and therefore should not be too far behind in its inauguration.

1 Economy and 2 Rooms will begin to be required as the scale of Operational contributions from User organisations increases, and the intensity and diversity of their operational demands deepens. This is an important function for early-adopter organisations in the Alpha and Beta phases of coop development, so these circles would be expected to be initially be constituted around the time of the full-service launch of the coop.

4 Events is a special function that will naturally be generated by User demands.

0 Stewards can evolve over a period of time as a tacit collaboration between circles, but will need to be formally inaugurated well in advance of the first General Assembly.