Thu 10 Oct 2019 3:45PM

Forward Strategy

MSC Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture) Public Seen by 54

A place to discuss Platform 6's strategy for the medium term to feed into a members' meeting before the end of the year.
As a starter for 10, please list your key questions for P6 below.


Austen Cordasco Thu 10 Oct 2019 4:58PM

I am concerned that Platform 6 is currently entirely dependent upon a small number of highly skilled volunteers. This is not sustainable in the medium to long term. P6 should really generate enough revenue to pay for the work that it depends upon so we should be moving towards a financially sustainable model, and to be operationally sustainable the technical knowledge and skills we rely on will in due course need to be transmitted to the next generation, or be recruited again, so we should be planning for that too.


adrian ashton Fri 11 Oct 2019 7:33AM

deja vu moment here with these being the same issues that Development Coop worked to try and resolve before P6...


Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture) Fri 11 Oct 2019 9:54AM

I think that P6 could carry on as it is indefinitely and there's plenty of good stuff going on. I don't personally see it as a sustainable CDB (although it certainly could be), but rather as a place where the unsustainable early stage exploratory stuff can happen with the support of the wider movement. I think that paid and funded project work is inevitable, but it would need those who wanted paying or funding to run the project with P6 as broker, safe space.

Questions for me are:

Is that consistent with what other members want?
Is our current funding model for overheads ever going to deliver significant income?
How could we better use Open Collective?
Is Loomio the best tool for outreach or would we be better using Facebook?
What is our offer? Could we simplify it?
Should we focus on platform co-op development where we are getting most interest?


Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Mon 14 Oct 2019 9:21AM

My question is what happened to the original idea that was floated and led to Platform 6, which was to create a mechanism for larger (richer) co-ops to easily put money into a co-op development fund. That was the original driving identified need and interest but seems to have been dropped in favour of an activist/practitioner network. (This is not a bad thing in itself) It may also be an answer to @marksimmonds Q2. If Platform 6 is not actively pursuing that approach, then the constituency of Co-op Development Bodies may want to pick that baton up again.


I think we didn't manage to work out a marketing strategy that succeeded at that particular aim. I remember thinking that because of the success of the Workers Co-op Solidarity Fund, we could just say 'look, it's like that, but for the rest of the movement' and everyone would want to join. But that hasn't been the case.


Graham Mon 14 Oct 2019 10:38AM

Thanks for input so far. I raised this issue of forward strategy at a recent director's call because I felt that we had perhaps lost a bit of focus, not unreasonably, given that we are all volunteers and that we've been responding to opportunities and ideas as they have arrived in recent months. So for me this thread is just a bit of an opportunity to take a step back, review and perhaps revisit some of the earlier thoughts and ideas that got us to where we are.

I've certainly not lost sight of the strand that's about building new funding streams, be that from larger/richer co-ops or elsewhere. Personally I'm also interested in trying to tap in to the relatively large body of people that I believe are out there who support co-operation, and may be looking for opportunities to become a little more directly involved, but can't easily find a way to do that.

I don't believe that we yet done any serious thinking (I know I haven't) on marketing, although I've got some ideas, and haven't yet made any serious effort to market P6 beyond the usual suspects. Because we've yet to clarify what the product/service offer is.

I am interested in developing the organisation into a sustainable business that pays people to do stuff. I'm also interested in continuing and building on the experimentation and innovation work, and the activist/practitioner network thing which I believe to be really valuable. I'll post more here.


John Merritt Tue 29 Oct 2019 11:58AM

Hello all again, I was planning to post straight after the Coop party Conference from which there were a few useful lessons, though not all positive. However, other things got in the way, not unrelated, and I want to get a few thoughts out, so here they are.
First, as Nathan mentioned P6 was set up to attract funding from the movement and supporters for Co-operative Development work. This was because the Development Coop was not getting the commissions and contracts we could have expected. As far as I remember these were at least a CCIN and a place based coop development commission. We had hoped the Large retail Coops and other profitable Coops would give regularly to the P6 fund and P6 would create a grant assessment and allocation committee. Part of the money given to P6 would be used to administer this.
The Development Coop or individual CDB's would make the applications for funds. This may be for match funding or as an individual grant.
I agree with Granham that the innovative, experimental and practitioner network that is has provided has been useful, but it was not the core purpose of P6. It is worth keeping but not to the detriment of getting resources into Coop Development.
This leads me onto some of the lessons of the Coop Party Conference that I learnt.

First, as Gareth N has mentioned, it would be good to have a Cooperative Development presence at the CCIN, Coop Party, CoopsWay Forward, Labour Party, CLES, TUC, Worker Ownership Organsation Conferences and other gatherings where trade stands are available for a cost. The usual paraphernalia, leaflets, banners, posters and possible 'gifts' (pens, mugs etc.) should be available if possible. I think the Development Coop is the organisation that should be hosting this and is how it should be branded, though a question about the role of the Development Forum came up.
Second, we need a P6, so we are not continually waiting on the Coop Bank or a (Labour) Government or Council that undertands to value of Cooperatives to the economic, social and environmental well-being of society. It also gives an organisation any government or arge organisation could just put some money into (alongside CCF), without having to think about how to do Coop Development investment.

Third, we need to find a forum or method of accomodation to be creatred for the related Solidarity Economy movement. SEUK sponsored the Coop Party's Conference welcome event, The MP's, Lords and Councillors often referred to Social and community Enterprise and Coop party campaigns. The Coop Development mainstage session was hosted by a Coop Council (Plymouth), Power to Change and Wales Cooperative Centre and the Development Coop was not visable on the programme. Though Gareth Nash, Martin Strube, John Goodman and myself were in the audience. It was an OK session, but Cooperative Development was not at the core of their presentations except for Plymouth's, who got their Coop Development strategy from CoopsUK.

I think there is good reason to stick with the orginal purposes of the Development Coop and P6 as these are needed and Coop focussed, and while I am a strong advocate of the Solidarity Economy, I recognise the danger of diluting Cooperatives with other other business types. Especially when a 'liberal' approach to economic development is involved.
I continue to feel indignant that Cooperative Development Bodies and Workers are really under-valued as part of the Coop Movement and if we are going to stop 'Cooperative Decay' and succesfully establish stong new Cooperatives these two organisations need to be at the forefront of the commissioners of economic development support.


Austen Cordasco Wed 30 Oct 2019 11:56AM

Hear here.


Leo Sammallahti Sat 16 Nov 2019 10:55PM

Could be good if we could get few coops launched that have been incubated through P6. I've talked with our new member Dean who will be presenting the Platform6 Co-op Source Monitor this week, we plan to launch this subtitles coop in the near future. I've been continuing chatting with Cliff Regis about Coop owned Linkedin alternative - wonder if P6 could get more involved with it somehow. Setting up an Open Collective for the coop to collect membership fees would be something we could do, but I hope we could do more. Just not sure what exactly.

When we launch the co-op source monitor, we could use it as an opportunity to do outreach by emailing all the coop software projects in the monitor and mention to them they are included there, and alongside tell about P6, perhaps offer setting up an Open Collective for their project.

We don't have to do it immediately - but it's an option we have to do outreach when we are ready to do so.