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Home » Products » Podcast » Season 6 » S06 E05 – Co-op Lessons (Pt. 1)

S06 E05 – Co-op Lessons (Pt. 1)

In this episode, Laura and Doug talk to John Bevan, the third member of We Are Open Co-op about lessons we’ve all learned over the last seven years of setting up and running our own business. We discuss:

  1. Mindshift (hours per week, etc.)
  2. Relationships with one another
  3. Managing clients
  4. Finances + sustainability
  5. Marketing + networking
  6. Working remotely
  7. IRL meetups


  • The Many Headed Hydra by Marcus Rediker and Peter Linebaugh
  • Beyond a Boundary by CLR James

Find all of our guests’ reading recommendations at our The Tao of WAO book club.



Important note: this is a lightly-edited AI transcription of the conversation. If you require verbatim quotations, please double-check against the audio!

Laura Hilliger: [00:00:01] Hey, everyone. Welcome to The Tao of WAO. We are going to be doing a two part episode after we kind of talked for a long time about things we’ve learned about co ops over the last seven years. So this is part one. Enjoy.

Doug Belshaw: [00:00:37] Welcome to The Tao of WAO, a podcast about the intersection of technology, society and internet culture with a dash of philosophy and art for good measure. I am Doug Belshaw.

Laura Hilliger: [00:00:49] And I’m Laura Hilliger. This podcast season is currently partially unfunded. You can support this podcast and other. We are open projects and products at

Doug Belshaw: [00:01:02] So today we have brought another we’re open founding member John Bevan last heard in season three on our episode about dormancy, which you can go and check out and invite him into this podcast because this podcast season is all about cooperation. John is the most cooperative person that we know and he hasn’t been on a podcast for a while, so Hello, John. Hey, both.

John Bevan: [00:01:25] Good to be back.

Doug Belshaw: [00:01:26] So you this is a bit of a weirdly structured episode because we’re all members of this co-op, but we’re going to treat you like a guest. And so the first question that we always ask for guests is, what’s your favourite book? And you can kind of just hack this by saying that, you know, you’ve got a favourite fiction one a non-fiction one, or your favourite one at the moment or whatever you want. But John, what’s your favourite book?

John Bevan: [00:01:49] Okay. I don’t think we did this question last time.

Doug Belshaw: [00:01:53] No.

John Bevan: [00:01:53] So I don’t need to dodge any that I’ve already mentioned. What’s my favourite book? There’s a book that I recommend to a lot of people over the past few years, which is called ‘The Many-headed Hydra’ and that is by Marcus Rediker and. Peter Linebaugh. I guess you pronounce it. This is a bit of a Harry Potter Hermione moment for me because I realised I’ve never said it, but I’ve read it many times, so I’ll fill in the gaps.

Doug Belshaw: [00:02:32] We can put this link in the in The Tao of WAO book club notes in the show notes and stuff. But what is this book? What’s it about? I’ve never even heard of it.

John Bevan: [00:02:40] That’s a book about the sort of emergence of transatlantic capitalism and slavery and nation states and colonialism and pirates and all sorts and is absolutely great. Um, but actually, I woke up this morning thinking about another book, and if I was going to go to the park and read a book today, I would take ‘Beyond a Boundary’ by CLR James because my kids have just got into playing cricket and I probably read ‘Beyond a Boundary’ 30 years ago or something like that. And whenever I think or watch or play cricket, there’s still bits in there that I kind of it brings to mind, um, and again about many themes other than just cricket, um, colonialism and racism in the Caribbean and beyond. It’s collection of essays which is like a great, great read.

Doug Belshaw: [00:03:44] Sport is very much like a gateway for some people finding out about the way that society is structured and some of the inequities. I bought my dad a book about the way that football is funded, which blew his mind and is actually, I think, helped change his politics as well. And then there’s a book which I still haven’t read. It’s called like ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ or something like that. Have you heard of this book? It’s like classic. And there’s The Inner Game of Golf’. And basically, yes, it’s using the sport as the organising thing. Um, but it’s really talking about kind of psychology and what it means to be. So yeah, there’s lots of books like that. So ‘Beyond a Boundary’ by CLR James. Cool.

Laura Hilliger: [00:04:31] Nice. So today we were thinking that we would have a bit of a ramble chat, which I think we’re kind of known for at this point. Our ramble chats about what it has been like to be running a co-op together for the last seven years.

Doug Belshaw: [00:04:49] And before we do that, which is exactly why we’re here. Can we just point out for those listening to this podcast who might be thinking, oh my goodness, the sound of Laura coming in my ears is just incredible. Like, how is it that she sounds so much better than Doug and John? So why is that, Laura?

Laura Hilliger: [00:05:08] Well, I have a very special mic today on a very large mic stand. It’s the first time I’m trying out this mic. I don’t know anything about it. I was just told you need a better mic, So here you go. And we’re going to give it a whirl. If I sound like amazing in this podcast, then you will see this mic much more often.

Doug Belshaw: [00:05:33] Cool. Well, just for context, I’ve got my Blue Snowball mic that I’ve had for the last decade propped up on top of my Mac Studio. So living the dream over here in Northumberland.

Laura Hilliger: [00:05:46] So for those who are interested, my mic is a Electro-Voice R320. So if you nerd out on sound equipment, you can write us and let us know whether or not you think this is a good mic because I have no idea.

Doug Belshaw: [00:06:06] Okay, cool. So some of the things we want to talk about today with John’s input, John, is the reason that we have a co op. All right. And I think we should probably start off by talking about why being a cop is better than lots of other options. And then we want to talk about what we’ve learned, as lawyers said, about running a cop together for seven years. And so it’s kind of lost in the mists of time 27 years ago, but it’s kind of lost in the mists of time exactly how we end up having a co op instead of some other kind of organisation. But John, do you want to just kind of riff off that in terms of like why being a cop might be better than being, I don’t know, a freelancer or being part of an agency or even just, you know, setting up your own regular, straight up press a button on companies house kind of business. Why is a co op better than all of those options?

John Bevan: [00:07:00] I think for us, peering back into the mists of time, like you say, so seven years ago, we had all worked together previously at Mozilla and then had left, you know, over a period of 1 or 2 years, probably we’d all left full time gigs, places and had all started freelancing. But even before I left my full time, proper job, guess I was thinking about whether I could freelance through a co op, set up a co op to do that and work with other people. And um, there at the time there were various other organisations also thinking about this and I was chatting to some of them. Alt Jen was one that was active at the time and thinking about freelance co ops. Um, and from a sort of I was motivated from a like ideological point of view. I think co ops are great and was interested in trying to hack together a business that would allow the freedom of being a freelancer, but then the support of working with other people. So that’s why I wrote in the three of you at the time. But now the two of you who are on the podcast with me to talk about doing this experiment as a co op.

Doug Belshaw: [00:08:30] I’d love to dig into that a little bit further. So like the different reasons for setting up a co-op. So you mentioned that yours was ideological. Laura, what was like again, I can’t remember exactly the meetings we had and how it was set up and all that kind of stuff. But can you remember like what was the reason that attracted you to being part of the Co-op? Other than getting to work with John and me and Bryan, obviously.

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:57] I mean, for me, it was really about what John just said. Like it seemed like a better way to be a freelancer. So I have been freelancing my entire career. Yeah, I worked at Mozilla and Greenpeace, but technically my contracts were always freelance contracts because of where I lived, because of how people could hire, because it’s actually pretty typical in the non-profit space to hire on contract basis. And the problem with that is that there’s not real security. I feel like, you know, a contract could just expire or, you know, just be gone at some point. Um, and I, yeah, I thought that it would be a good idea to have that support structure. So it was really about solidarity and being able to work with other people. But, but some of the admin stuff that the co-op does or, you know, just having people to talk to about some of the, like, you know, health insurance issues for somebody who doesn’t have a job, like it sounds very boring, but as an adult you have to deal with that stuff and having a group of people who are in similar positions, um, it’s been hugely helpful over the past seven years and as we’ve grown and matured, it’s gotten even like we’re a business and we take care of HR issues and these kinds of things. And you know, for me it was.

Doug Belshaw: [00:10:23] Yeah, that’s interesting. So we’ll get into to kind of some of those in our seven things that we’ve learned. So John says ideological. Laura, you’re saying it’s kind of the getting around the precarity of being a freelancer? For me, it was, yeah, definitely wanting to work with other people and not wanting to do any of the boring admin. Like we roped my wife Hannah into doing the admin in the early days of the corp and stuff, which was fantastic because like lots of like some people really enjoy doing admin and operations stuff. So John I know you enjoy that or you know, definitely good at doing if you don’t enjoying it. Um, and like Aaron who found the podcast enjoys doing that kind of stuff for me. Like I couldn’t deal with doing that every day and I just need to do the the new stuff all the time. I’m like a dog chasing a shiny car. Um, so like a dog chasing a shiny car as a freelancer is not a sustainable business, whereas people of different interests and talents coming together and kind of supporting one another and following interests whilst still being responsible and running a business is, is perfect. So, so yeah, so we’ve talked about kind of why a co op might be better than being a freelancer, but. There were two of the things that I mentioned just whilst passing this over to John. So why maybe being in a club is better than being in an agency? Or maybe the usual thing would be like, okay, well, if I’m not going to be a freelancer, I’m going to set up my own business and I’m going to employ other people. So why can we just kind of touch on those before we get into the seven things? Why might it be better than joining an agency? Like, let’s just start there. Why is being part of a co-op, even if not, if you’re not a founding member better than being like employed in an agency?

John Bevan: [00:12:15] I think there’s a there’s something there about people who are striking out on their own or joining an agency. And there are times at which. In your relationship to power or your boss or whatever. Lots of people start a business because they want to be their own boss, but if you are on your own, that can you can be a pretty strict, horrible boss to yourself. And if you work for either as an individual or through an agency, sometimes you end up it’s almost like the situation you now have. Each of your clients is all in some way your boss and are telling you what to do and are putting you under pressure. Whereas my experience, hopefully our experience as a co-op is one that you can look around the table, look on the video call, and it’s a conversation with equals. And together you can deal with things, you can share the successes, you can try to figure out what’s going wrong when things aren’t going so well. And so, yeah, it’s your just your entire relationship to work. And the weird things that power does in relationships through work is a very different one.

Doug Belshaw: [00:13:36] I guess what’s interesting to me is the number of people who own agencies who we’ve worked with who are like, Oh, and I’m going to be a B Corp and whatever, and they’re interested in being potentially turning into a co-op. But there’s something about giving up that control. And it’s weird where those conversations about coercion and oppression come up. I haven’t I haven’t mentioned this to either of you before this podcast, but last night I was picking up my son’s prom suit with him. He was trying it on and stuff. I ended up having a conversation with the 23 year old person who worked in the suit hire shop about oppressive management practices. Yeah, because he, who was a year out of university, had gone for a promotion basically across the street to another men’s fashion place. And it had such a terrible time that after seven weeks he was crying at work. Yeah. And had gone back to this place where we were hiring the suit from. And we were literally talking about how you can earn as much money as you want, but if you’ve got an oppressive boss, it’s hellish. Like, it’s absolutely terrible. Um, and there’s something about those coercive power relationships. And before I joined the co-op, when I used to see people talking about coercion at work and oppression and stuff, I’d be like, Oh look, there’s just Marxist ranting on again. But actually it’s a thing. It’s a thing that I’ve experienced, um, and is, is actually really dangerous and bad for your mental health, I would say.

Laura Hilliger: [00:15:08] Yeah I think I mean in a co-op landscape, I think that collaborating eye to eye as equals is a set of skills that you have to learn, or rather a set of it has something to do with skills that you have to unlearn. Because society is set up with these hierarchies. Society is set up to have oppressive and coercive work practices as quote unquote normal. And in a co op you bring all of that baggage with you, the things that you’ve learned since the early days. And it’s it’s a real effort to a good effort, a positive effort to like realise those norms and sort of the cultural aspects of work that you bring with you when you’re in a situation where they’re no longer required or or wanted and you really have to it’s something to get used to. I mean, over the past seven years, like when I joined this coop, I thought about running a business as an individual, not as a collective. Do you know what I mean? Like, I knew that we were all equal and that we’re going to run this thing together. But my perspective on it was like Laura has to X,Y,Z. Laura needs to. And now seven years later, it’s like, oh, hold on, I don’t need to. Because if there’s any anything that I need support on, all I have to do is come to you guys and be like, Yo, I want to talk about this thing. And that’s been a progression over the years. It wasn’t it wasn’t just a given. Like, Oh, we’re all going to be equal and this is going to be great. Now you have to learn how to communicate, how to how to advocate, how to actually bring people in instead of doing things yourself.

Doug Belshaw: [00:16:54] So and one of the journeys that I’ve definitely been on is just, you know, when on on the front page of our website, we’ve got something about flying up in a jet pack to 10,000ft so we can have a look around and see an overview of what’s going on. It’s like when you’ve got the space of not having a boss kind of telling you what to do and you have to figure it out for yourself. You start realising like, why is it that businesses tend to do things like that or why is society structured like that? And for me, seeing like the how the patriarchy is just has its fingers and everything. Like even before this podcast we were talking about how in Germany today when recording this, there’s a day which is like Men’s Day and people like men go around and get drunk and just do stuff like, Why is that a thing? Um, so that’s on a societal level. There’s um, like the way in which we interact in meetings. There’s the, the responsibility sometimes that people who don’t identify as male for looking after people and sorting stuff out, like all of those things that have to be like unpicked and it takes a while to do. I found really interesting as well.

Laura Hilliger: [00:18:06] Yeah, there’s a lot of people nowadays are talking about care work in the workplace, so it’s typically people who don’t identify as male that pick up some of the labour that is just meant to make things easier for the business as a whole. And this is something that it’s like, you know, it’s like little things like, you know, making sure that there’s a spreadsheet for the plan that everybody’s talking about or note taking or, you know, some of these smaller things. And it’s definitely been, you know, recognising the behaviours that I that I bring as a non male and actually asking for help in certain times. And of course you both have also noticed, oh, hey look, it’s the women that are taking notes again, maybe I should write something down and, but that’s like happened over time working together that we realise that some of those behaviours are just ingrained based on, you know, the patriarchy. So.

Doug Belshaw: [00:19:08] One of the people who we we haven’t had on on the podcast, I don’t think, but someone who we’ve been inspired by over the years, who we’ve probably mentioned on this podcast a bunch of times is Abi Handley from Outlandish and she has recently stepped down from being a member of Outlandish. She’s going to continue being a collaborator. She’s been to one of one of our co op days and in the blog post, which we can put on the show notes about stepping down as a member. She said something which I didn’t think she was going to say publicly, but she definitely said privately, which was that she struggled in letting go of the role of mum in outlandish despite desperately wanting to. And it’s very difficult to change the kind of dynamics in any kind of group and how sometimes you have to step back like, like physically or metaphorically step back and say, I am not doing this role anymore and how difficult that is if you. Like if you don’t own the business in some way. It’s interesting. So let’s move on to the bit where we’re talking about the seven things that we’ve learned from running a club together for seven years.

Doug Belshaw: [00:20:18] And this can go off in different tangents and it’ll probably grow legs and run away with this because I think we’ve got lots to say about this. But we, we’ve got seven things written down in our notes. Um, mindshift relationships with one another, managing clients finances and sustainability, marketing and networking, working remotely and meeting up in real life meetups. Should we just start at the beginning and go through them or are there any. Yeah, let’s do it. Okay, cool. Cool. So the first one, and we’ve been writing an email course for workers co-op on this like introduction to forming a co-op. And one of the things was like the mind shift involved in running a co-op and being part of a co-op as opposed to being part of a different kind of business. And we’ve just been touching on that a little bit, but maybe we could talk a little bit more about that, that mind shift and what that’s been like for us. Who wants to start?

Laura Hilliger: [00:21:21] Well, I can start because I started talking. I have definitely, in the last seven years, had a pretty big mind shift on what it means to work, what it means, like how I want to work, the kind of space I need, where my creative energy is and at what time of day or what I need to do. And there’s, you know, I, I get to my desk almost every single day. By 9:30 a.m. that’s my start time. And I, you know, have my little work processes and stuff. But the big mind shift that’s actually happened relatively recently is feeling comfortable saying, I don’t want to do this right now or I don’t have the energy for this right now. I really feel like it’s been, you know, the past year or so that I feel comfortable saying to my colleagues, you know what, this thing that we said we were going to do right now, I don’t have the energy for it. I want to work on this other thing right now or, you know, I just want to leave the computer. And this is a this is a big new thing. And it is so nice to be able to work with people and say, my energy level is not feeling this thing. And, you know, and and everybody is like willing to shift gears or to to say, oh, well, I really have energy for it. So how about I get started? And that’s, you know, that’s been really healthy for me because I feel like when I come to work, I get to follow my energy, whatever that energy is. And it means that the work that I’m doing is better for it because I, you know, don’t try to do really creative things if I’m not feeling creative at all, these kinds of things. So that was a big mind shift, used to be.

Doug Belshaw: [00:23:08] So how would you how would you describe that? I saw someone say it’s like managing your energy instead of your tasks or time. Yeah. Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:23:20] Yeah. I mean, it’s really about like, you know, being in a workplace that’s flexible enough to allow for people to have different feelings at different times and not like force functioning collaboration. Um.

Doug Belshaw: [00:23:34] And that’s, that is different to let’s get everyone to come back to the office so we can make sure that they’re actually working.

Laura Hilliger: [00:23:41] It is very different from that. Yes.

Doug Belshaw: [00:23:43] Yes. John, do you feel the same way? Is it like what’s the shift for you, if anything?

John Bevan: [00:23:50] I think that… I suppose there’s maybe something to talk about that it’s not all beer and biscuits and running a co-op means that you’re responsible for the business and you have to be one of the people who pays attention, even if it’s only once a year or once every six months to things like the accounts need to be signed off and you are legally responsible for doing things that you are able to dodge. If you work in a you know, you have a boss who deals with that and they tell you what to do, and then they also make those decisions. So there’s like huge benefits for your well-being in terms of having control of your work. But then there’s also the responsibility that comes with that. And I’ve heard a couple of people mention over the years the reason they prefer employee owned status like through a trust or something rather than directly worker owned co-op is that they can still keep some of that separation. So there is, you know, a way for them to express themselves at work. There’s some democratic means for them to be involved in the running of the business, but they do manage to keep one step removed from some of, you know, things that they don’t want to pay attention to or or whatever. Um, so I guess the, the shift for me was more, you know, being mindful of you have to pick all of that stuff up. And sometimes if you’re doing that, then it means you have to pay less attention to somewhere, somewhere else, I suppose.

Doug Belshaw: [00:25:28] And for me, I can remember… So I started off my career as a teacher and then senior leader in schools and then worked in a university and then at Mozilla. And then, you know, and for me, I can remember how guilty I felt taking days off work. And how I should be working even when like I was not fit to work, I had a really bad cold or I was just burnt out or whatever. And just like I see photographs come up on a, on a Google display thing and like you can almost project yourself back into the mindset that you were in at that stage ten years ago, 15 years ago or whatever. And just how I feel completely different to like I get the number of I want to do around 25 hours work a week. It’s often like a couple of hours less than that. But like what counts as as work and what counts as paid work. And like, I’ve never like this period of my life. I’m more fit than I was in my 20s and I’m in my 40s now and just giving like prioritising things other than work and career because I can do because I’ve got other things going on in my life. I’m parenting teenagers and I’ve got older parents and all this kind of stuff. So it’s, it’s really interesting having that mind shift to not just putting the commute to work and work and coming back from work as the most important thing in your in your life. And it’s quite nice to not just have conversations and having to keep up with the treadmill of like, um, well, LinkedIn, to be quite honest.

Laura Hilliger: [00:27:08] Yeah, I’m glad you said career there because I think, you know, if I think back to who I was ten, 15, 20 years ago, then it was very much about climbing some sort of ladder. I didn’t even know where I was trying to go. It wasn’t, you know, like there was something about ambition that that really drove me in the early part of my career and wanting to make a name for myself. And, I don’t know, like make more money, be promoted, be a director. Like I always wanted to be a director. Technically, I’m now a director of my own business, which is a whole different ball of wax than like trying to climb some sort of corporate corporate ladder.

Doug Belshaw: [00:27:50] There’s an image that we asked Brian to create of a of a ladder as opposed to someone traversing a climbing wall, which is what I feel like maybe our careers are more like traversing a climbing wall where you kind of go sideways and maybe down and backwards and up and around and you do what’s right for you at the time.

Laura Hilliger: [00:28:11] Yeah, I would argue I mean, I would argue that that’s what everybody’s career is like or that’s what a career is supposed to be like, you know? And you don’t learn that when you’re young. You know, you learn to climb a ladder. You don’t learn that you can go sideways, that you can go back down, that you can grab, you know, another bouldering handhold. And that’s something that you learn after you’ve been working for a while and you’re like, Oh, you know, my throughline is not the same as, you know, a progression in some corporate career. It’s it’s very different.

John Bevan: [00:28:46] Well, in making the editing of this podcast potentially much more tricky, continuity breaking insert, I mentioned Altgen earlier and they’re an organisation. I’m not sure they’re really active anymore, but for those of you watching in black and White, they had some stickers that they used to give out, which was about not climbing the ladder and doing things differently and just popped into my head that I’d mentioned them earlier and still got some of their stickers in the desk.

Doug Belshaw: [00:29:16] Yeah, because the ladder has been created by someone else, like the career pathway has been created by someone who is not you, who does not know what your needs and wants and context and stuff are. And also again, going back to the kind of patriarchy from earlier and also the way that we’re conditioned into stuff. And I realised that. If 15 years ago Doug and he’s 20 was listening to 42 year old Doug speak now, he’d be like, “Oh my goodness, how have you turned out?” Because I’m using language that I used to shy away from because it sounded a little bit too. Left wing or radical or whatever, whereas now it doesn’t feel radical. It just feels like this is the stuff that we need to do to be healthy as individuals, as in organisations, in society. This is what this is the kind of stuff that we need to do. And again, a lot of my time is spent parenting and on the way to the to the soup place yesterday, I was saying to my son how amazing it is now that he gets to choose. From now on, he gets to choose everything that he learns. No longer is he going to be forced to learn anything and he can learn anything that he wants. As we drove past Newcastle University, I tried to indoctrinate him with the higher education virus. Um, shall we move on to relationships with one another? Yes.

Laura Hilliger: [00:30:42] What have you learned, John, about relationships with us or with other co-op members?

Speaker5: [00:30:50] I suppose. I work a lot more closely with you both now than we ever did before the co-op existed. So we were both like we all worked for Mozilla Foundation wasn’t a huge place, you know, somewhere in the years that we were there, between 40 and 70 sort of people or something like that, I guess. Um, and we work remotely and we would get together at meetups or if you came to London or whatever. Um, but now I’ve worked like much more closely alongside you, I guess through the Co-op than we ever had previously. Um, so just have a sort of another level of understanding of what your home lives are like and they’re just as complicated as everyone else’s and mine. And it allows you to kind of we always try at the start of our days or meetings to check in and see how everyone else is doing. And that wider context really does help. Sometimes if you have a situation like Laura mentioned, where you just need to step back for some reason, you can, you know, paint a richer picture of your colleagues sort of lives outside of work, I suppose.

Laura Hilliger: [00:32:17] I think for me, one of the things that I’ve learned running a co op specifically for seven years about relationships is like we we get to know each other personally. Like, that’s good. We work together every day. We should know each other a bit. But I’ve found I’ve found in terms of like how we relate to each other, we’re getting to know each other on a level where we can I mean, we can outright see how how we’re feeling internally. And a lot of instances like, you know, if we somebody has a proposal or an idea and somebody else doesn’t feel comfortable with it, despite the fact that we’re working remotely and we don’t have the added benefit of like full body language, we know each other well enough, and we’ve worked together so closely in all of these different areas, not just like not just on bits of work that we’re good at, but also bits of work that we’re not good at. And we we can see where our skills and talents are, where we’re happy to use them and where maybe we’re not. I’m thinking specifically of spreadsheets right now. So like listeners, dear listeners, when spreadsheets come up, I immediate am like, Oh no, a spreadsheet. And every once in a while the spreadsheet is so beautiful because either John or Doug has taken the time to make the spreadsheet not feel like a spreadsheet that even I can like use it. And it’s like, you know, you, you we learn little things about how we need to like how each other processes particular kinds of information. And I think it’s really awesome that in a co op you know each other so well that people then try to like help you actually care about the spreadsheet in this in this example. And that’s that’s definitely a relationship thing because it’s like having the, the care and the empathy and like, you know, the, the deep enough relationship that you try to help other people understand what you’re trying to get across, even if it means that you have to format a spreadsheet with pretty colours so that Laura cares.

Doug Belshaw: [00:34:33] And to to use John’s wonderful phrase, it’s not all beer and biscuits. Um, relationships with one another. Like there will always be conflict in any kind of organisation, especially when you’re working so closely with with other people. Laura referred to me as her work spouse on the Fediverse the other day, um, to which I took mock. Mock um, uh, what is it? Mock mock offence. I didn’t really take offence to it, but it’s weird because we do spend. I probably spend more time on a weekday with Laura than I do with my wife, which is weird because out of work I’m often like running the kids here and there and stuff, so you have to get on well with people and that doesn’t just happen by accident. You have to talk through things. We’ve done some work around non-violent communication and with outlandish around reframing conflict. But there was one thing that I wanted to talk about in particular. So there was an episode of The You Are Not So Smart podcast that Laura recommended, and it wasn’t this particular episode. It was the podcast that you recommended on a pilot episode of a podcast that never went out. Maybe we’ll release that as a bonus sometime, but I’m always up for listening to new podcasts.

Doug Belshaw: [00:35:53] They rereleased this one from Adam Grant, the workplace psychologist. It was originally recorded in 2022, and in this podcast, which I’ll listen to at the gym, he was talking about the difference between relationship conflict and task conflict, which I thought was great. So relationship, conflict, we conflate the two. We think that because we’re arguing over like how we should do this client project, that we’re actually arguing with each other as individuals. And although we’ve never used that language, um, and John is the easiest person to get on with in the world and Laura and I really aren’t, um, that we conflate the task conflict with the relationship conflict. And he was saying how task conflict is really important because it actually surfaces diversity of opinions and good views and whatever. But relationship conflict, you need tools to be able to get around that. Otherwise people leave organisations and members, especially founding members leaving organisations like Co Ops is a much bigger deal than just someone leaving a job in a hierarchical organisation. So it’s good that we’ve managed to to figure that out.

Laura Hilliger: [00:37:02] Yeah, I think we should mention the reframing conflicts course that you literally just mentioned. Again, because it was excellent. So outlandish puts on a course where they focus on how to how to sort through your feelings, observations, needs and thoughts, which are all slightly different. And they teach a little framework that they call font. And this we took everyone at the co op took the reframing conflict course that last year maybe, or the I think it was last year, last year. And I found it really valuable because like the way that they help you understand conflict is not that conflict is negative, but rather that conflict can be very productive. And so like with this task conflict that you’ve just been talking about, I think, you know, often often when we have differing opinions, leaning on that front framework has been really helpful because we can sort through what’s what’s really going on under the hood and what is it that we’re trying to accomplish in a way that is like non-violent and, you know, speaks to how we want to work together. So we’ll put a link on in the show notes for that.

Doug Belshaw: [00:38:17] Yeah, an Outlandish never… It’s it’s a major part of their workshop, but they don’t really have anything published about that. So I’ve got a blog post where I explain basically what I’ve learnt about that. So we’ll stick that in as well.

Laura Hilliger: [00:38:29] Sorry to interrupt your listening experience. We’re going to cut this episode here and be sure and check out Part Two of “Co-op Lessons”.