What good looks like complements the Vision of Holistic Political Economy with working examples.

Holistic Political Economy starts from the observation that good things come from cooperation. It proposes that we should design institutions in such a way that at their heart are processes which seek to find, develop and build consensus. That once a consensus has been reached action will be taken in such a way that allows feedback and alteration. There will be designed into the process from the start ways to measure progress, assess outcomes and make changes; that there is nothing wrong with saying, that doesn't work, lets try something else. 

Good looks like people working together. Therefore good is primarily about organisations because it is in organisations that we see people working together. Organisations take many forms – some are formal, legally recognised membership organisations. On this site we stretch the definition of an organisation deliberately so as to include all sorts of groups, associations and informal self organising networks. Wherever people are cooperating together we can find characteristics that show what good looks like.

Organisations can be formal and legally constituted like; 

  • Cooperatives, Partnerships, 
  • Social Enterprises,
  • Charities, 
  • Public Benefit Companies (US),
  • Public (plc in UK) and Private Companies, 
  • Schools, Colleges, Universities, Unions,
  • Political Parties,
  • Campaigning and Community Organisations,  
  • Religious organisations 

Just as easily however they can be self organising networks of individuals who work together with very informal ties.

For now lets just emphasise the point of building this encyclopaedia;

  • Good characteristics can be developed 
  • Organisations change over time
  • Over time the balance will change

Good characteristics can be developed

Holistic Political Economy is based on cooperation and knowledge. Cooperation cannot be created by compulsion, compliance maybe obtained for a time but that soon wears thin to be replaced by resentment or worse.

By focusing relentlessly on results (targets) it is a short step to the conclusion that the ends justify the means - we become impatient, we get frustrated we want to impose our view. The vision will always be another step away, over the horizon and needing just one more push. But this is a guaranteed way to grow opposition. The opposition does not have to be deep or reasoned (although often it is) it can equally well just be bloody mindedness - I am not doing that for no other reason than you told me to do it. 

Our knowledge tells us that performance is improved by looking at what is done well and developing it. Only by relentlessly focusing on what works, understanding and reinforcing it, by slowly building consensus can we make lasting progress. The journey, our day to day lived experience, happens right now not tomorrow.  This is in contrast to concentrating on bad characteristics and criticising. Sports coaches and many businesses know this. Why then do we base our politics on criticism and opposition? 

In this new paradigm the manager is the servant of the team and facilitation is what leadership looks like. Here are two examples of where we have things 180 degrees wrong, where we need to rotate the way we look at things and adopt a new paradigm.

  • In this new paradigm civil society will be represented on company boards because it is civil society that is the stakeholder. It matters to all of us in civil society what corporations do. Corporate power has no business getting a free (or purchased) seat at the government table because it is a stakeholder in the government, that is precisely 180 degrees wrong, we are all stakeholders in government, we are citizens, money buying influence at the table is not democracy.
  • In this new paradigm government, through a consensual process, government will set the framework within which people have the power to act and get on with it.People know the detail in their areas and and are are quite capable of doing it themselves.  It is 180 degrees wrong to think we can get effective change by leaving the government to look after things for us and implement change by doing things top down, doing things too people not with them - when there is a need people self organise, we can design government in such as way that this is built in*

Organisations change over time

Its a truism that things change over time, its a cliche that the only constant is the rate of change. Look at the so called good companies (measured by financial return) that someone like Tom Peters identified and see where they are now. Looking at financial success and then copying what was done to achieve it is missing the point big time. Financial success is merely an outcome and it is not possible to be neutral about how it was made; a heist is financially successful. Having financial success is just not the same as having deeply embedded good characteristics. To attribute success is to make a value judgement.

As holistic political economy develops organisations will increasingly transform themselves. They will not do this because they have to but because they feel that they have to, and they just will*. Private companies can be changed into cooperatives - some have. Founders don't need to sell out they can create something lasting - some do. Institutional shareholders don't have to go along with short termism but could insist on decisions for the long term. Opinion on what is right (as opposed to what is legal) can be changed. What makes for success can become creating or contributing to the common wealth*.

Over time the balance will change

We can learn what works and how to go about setting it up. We can do so much better than we do now. We don’t have to settle for second best or tolerate other people telling us how the world as it is now, is as good as it gets. By loosely coupling all the examples in this site, by sharing the knowledge and lived experience of co-operation we are empowered to imagine and help bring about a better world.
New organisations can start with what is good. Existing organisations can change. People can choose to start cooperatives and social enterprises instead of going down the plc route. As people see cooperation at work they will like it and want more. Rebalancing the economy can become about having a rich diversity of organisations that take their externalities fully into account, that listen too, and have representation from all of their stakeholders, including wider society.
One day the economy will look superficially similar to how it looks today but underneath it will have been totally transformed.