We could pay for ops work with a combination of GBP (fiat money) plus mutual credit
We could recognise active community members with these credits
At some point we could accept these credits as payment for our services
When we reach a critical mass of user members and therefore a level of revenue that allows us to pay fair wages, we can start to pay back the credits.
We could at some point, if we deploy the right technological solution, interconnect with other mutual credit networks and facilitate the circulation of these alternative money systems
This can help us to compensate better the ops work needed now to make meet.coop fly and recognise the work of people accruing these credits.
Within our compensation framework we made explicit the intention to pay back “sweat equity” from the first phases until the “fair wage phase”. Until now however we haven’t defined how we register this debt to the operational members putting in more sweat than they’re compensated for. Implementing a mutual credit system or token could help with that intention, and make the situation overall more fair and encouraging.
Needless to say that any system worth implementing should come with operational simplicity. We could go about this in phases, for example:
start registering the issuance and accrual of credits in a spreadsheet, with a public document, e.g. to be published every quarter after the distribution meeting. For ex we could pay compensations half in GBP and half in credits, thereby effectively doubling our compensations.
retroactively agree on the issuance of credits over the previous distributions, e.g. all previous distributions in GBP to ops members get doubled, with an identical payment in credits.
select the appropriate tool / platform for mutual credits or other tokens, implement it and move away from the spreadsheet
work on interconnection with other m/c communities to build a larger network, transitioning towards sovereign people money and a commons-oriented economy
accept payments in credits, integrate with our Discourse forum, etc
This can be an opportunity on various levels, but also just another hurdle to add to our list What do you think, what examples of communities and tools/platforms do you know of?
MC could be good - I agree simplicity is key.
Thinking about other possible reward structures / mechanisms … one of these I have previously investigated is SourceCred. You can see a webinar I ran with them here: https://open.coop/2020/05/15/open-2020-webinar-sourcecred/ (cut to 10 mins in to skip the intro - the presentation is only 10 mins, then it’s Q&A, so you should get the idea pretty quickly) but essentially: “Cred” is like a reputation score (which determines how many tokens you get) and “Grain” is a token which you earn and can pay to others - and use to “boost” tasks (ala “bounties”).
SourceCred integrates with Git and Discourse so does seem very well suited for our needs.
I have emailed the founder of the project now to check up on how things are going - and to see what sort of support we could get if we wanted to experiment with it for Meet.coop
I’m not sure we would have to use as exactly as it has been designed, as it is open source, so we could make our own tweaks… e.g. we could use it to track ‘cred’ by monitoring Member’s activities here in Discourse and on Git… (which would provide a way to measure sweat equity) and allocate a specific amount of ‘grain’ (i.e. the reserve funds from the previous quarter, as suggested in the bounties thread) to the system, to be allocated by Members (either weighted by grain scores / not - however we choose) to the bounties for the coming quarter.
Yesterday we came together with the Org.circle and discussed this topic. We feel that our collective is too small to start issuing mutual credit that can be exchanged with others. However, assigning credits i.e. recognising a certain debt towards the ops members doing much sweat for little compensation (the “sweat equity” phase we’re in) would make sense. A practical approach would be to record the same amount of credits equal to the amount of GBP compensation allocated to workers. We could do this retroactively, as is also mentioned in the compensation framework documentation. That would keep things easy and straight forward. To be discussed in the next all hands?
I formulated this proposal in the following document “meetcoop credit to improve compensations” that we can move to a vote to decide upon. But maybe before we do that, people want to comment and suggest improvements first?
If we end up approving the proposal, I suggest that we can include it in the Contribution Accounting Framework, as a chapter.
Oli and others consider that the compensation framework should be improved to make sure founders and early contributors who put in a lot of effort that is just marginally compensated get the right incentive. The main questions for me are: 1) what is just now and in the future and 2) how can we do that with minimum overhead/extra effort?
Scenarios that occur
1- as is: below fair wage compensations each quarter; no credits/tokens/debts recognised so far; problems: too low compensation, no clarity about recognition or retro-active compensations in the future (when things fly and meet.coop is successful in its mission, pays fair wages, etc)
2- add to 1) a recognition of debt towards founders/early contributors, possibly with a simple bonding curve. Each one of us would accrue credits that once meet.coop becomes successful it can start to pay back. It would make our current situation easier to accept and if/when we are collectively successful, it pays back some of the sweat.
3- like 2) but based onAgree totally, Oli, that the compensation framework should be improved to make sure founders and early contributors who put in a lot of effort that is just marginally compensated get the right incentive. The questions are for me: 1) what is just now and in the future and 2) how can we do that with minimum overhead/extra effort?
4- an adapted compensation framework where we assign credits to 1) bountied tasks + 2) hourly work in circles (according to roles & commitments?) + 3) rotation in support desk, tech support, marketing … then pay those credits against an agreed tariff now and let the rest remain as debt to be paid back later (similar to 2))
I think it’s pertinent to resolve this dilemma properly. It doesn’t feel good right now.
I have a suggestion for a super simple way to track our current (and previous) ‘donations’ of sweat equity so that we can pay back our staff once meet.coop is at the point it is paying fair wages and making enough profit to start paying back its debts.
How about if we aim to pay back the difference between what we actually pay at the moment, and our target rate of £50/hour? (I know Wouter often suggests £35/hour is a suitable wage… but for now let’s imagine the target is £50/hour - and we can agree the exact figure later)
What would this mean?
In our previous compensation round (for Q2 and Q3 2021 - I can’t find the numbers for Q4 2021?) we ended up paying an average of roughly £10/hour. So, implementing this simple ‘sweat equity compensation programme’ would mean that the additional £40/hour we didn’t pay our staff for their hours would be recorded against the Individual Ops members and paid back in the future, when we can afford it. For example, Calix (who worked 6 hours) would get £240 in the future, and Wouter (who worked 150 hours) would get £6,000 in the future - but only once the coop could afford to pay these debts - and presumably not all at once, but over time.
If we chose to run with a simple framework like this, we could also back-calculate what we owe to founders and Ops members for all hours invested to date (presuming someone can find the records of the hours worked) - PLUS, and in many ways, most significantly, this would also enable us to feed realistic numbers into a business plan, and to calculate how many members we would need to reach sustainability by when - to inform our plans.
What do you think - does this make sense to you?
I can’t think of a simpler way to do it…
that, on average, our members pay £62.20/quarter (based on our current revenue & members)
that we can increase our membership via ‘free’ marketing i.e. just by investing our time from the 351 hours on marketing activities…
What this means is that we would need to grow from 70 to 298 members to break even - i.e. to reach sustainability (no small task, but possibly do-able!?) - and, if we could grow to 400 members (with the same assumptions as above) it would take roughly 5 years from the point that we reach sustainability to pay back our debts (which are already ~£100k) to Ops Members.
Oli, great thinking, I was about to propose the same line of thought. Basically we review the historical data, compare how many hours we have worked in 2020, in 2021, in 2022, and track how much per hour has been paid already and keep track of the rest as debt. Then in the (hopefully near) future we reach a level of fair wage, we start paying back the incurred debt with the operational members of the first years.
Tricky is the part of establishing a “reasonable” hourly tariff. Maybe the ultimate solution is to keep it open, and when ops members want to start claiming payback, they receive payback of unpaid time against what then is the average hourly wage? Of course we’d first need to reach a threshold. Then each ops member can consider for themselves if they wait with their payback claim until the wage levels have improved even more or they already claim at the then counting tariff.
But in any case we’d need to have a rough idea of what wage level we are aspiring off collectively. @osb, you ran an interesting improvised question to the Org.circle when meeting about the sustainability discussion recently and we had 6 of the ops members replying their desirable hourly wage on a scale of 0 - 100 GBP.
I added it up and averaged it coming to 35 GBP/hour.
Just to put things in perspective, calculating gross annual salaries from this:
25 GBP/hour * 1720 hours = 43.000 GBP
30 GBP/hour * 1720 hours = 51.600 GBP
35 GBP/hour * 1720 hours = 60.200 GBP
50 GBP/hour * 1720 hours = 86.000 GBP
If 35 is the average “ideal” based on 6 ops members, maybe for now we calculate with that? But keep in our (new version of the) compensation framework the flexibility for ops members to claim their payback at a later stage for whatever will then be the hourly tariff.
I will study the historical hours and compensations per year and try to calculate the debt. This gives us a picture of what sweat we have invested and what should paid back when we get to that level of success we are all working for. Yes?