Restorative Practices is a chaordic start-up network that moves slowly and fixes stuff.
It is comprised of 3 entity structures:
Restorative Practices Alliance: a chaordic non-hierarchical network of aligned individuals and organizations, sharing common principles, working to bring the Restorative Practices framework to scale in broadly varying sectors and contexts
Applied Mindfulness, Inc.: an intellectual property, media, and behavior design firm pioneering the emerging field of Applied Mindfulness, which licenses content to the Alliance
Applied Mindfulness Public Benefit Corporation: a fiscally-sponsored entity able to receive philanthropic funding in furtherance of the objectives of Applied Mindfulness, Inc. and the Restorative Practices Alliance, and able to create public benefit through programming
We invite you to consider, for a moment, the implicit associations that you have with various entity structures:
E.g., Companies are efficient. In tech, they are agile. Start-ups are lean. They are scrappy and resourceful, leverage limited resources, and generate disruptive change. They also, often, because they were developed and conceptualized on a 17th century model that emerged from a paradigm of dominance and disconnection, tend towards rapacious capitalism. Extraction of resources natural and human. Consolidation of the wealth of the commons into the hands of the few. Implicit in the design of many start-ups is to move extremely fast, push extremely hard, leverage network effects to scale extremely rapidly, and then exit through a sale, or IPO. Hmmm.
Many of the folks I know, including many who’ve won the start-up lottery, did so at the cost of burning out. At the externalized cost of marriages and children. Some are in their forties and retired, but is that a good thing? Sure, they don’t need to work anymore, but they’re brilliant- and, we (as a collective) need their help. Many start-ups, also, by virtue of their funding structure, and network effects, create tremendous unintended consequences, which come to scale at the same rate as their innovations.
Witness, for example, the elderly in San Francisco tripping over electric scooters that are no longer tethered to a location (disruption! innovation!), but instead litter the sidewalk (unintended consequence!). Or texting’s ability to help us share brief conversations (disruption! innovation!), while undermining young people’s competence in face-to-face conversation, depriving them of the two most important parts of human communication (voice tone, seeing the impact of your words landing on someone else), and consequently leading to measurable decreases in ability to read social engagement cues and body language, decreased empathy, increased bullying, more aggressive sexual behavior, and increased harassment (unintended consequences!)
Start-ups are not incentivized to examine their unintended consequences at scale, and design for this. They are simply moving too fast.
Non-profits are big-hearted. Community-oriented. Purpose-driven. They really care. Yet when we think of non-profits, we also think of inefficiency. Lack of strategic discipline. All of the challenges that come from providing value to someone who isn’t paying for it, while having to (sometimes flatter and) convince who is paying for it that they should keep doing so. And when people are deprived of reciprocating value for something they’ve received (importantly, the value doesn’t have to be money), they are less likely to experience its full benefit and lean into it. (In our experience.) At the same time, philanthropy has a role to play here, because it can support initiatives and explorations that don’t map to a traditional business model.
What kind of organizational structural models can we create that mimic the way nature designs, redress past wrongs and imbalances of a genocidal White Supremacist historical structure, and maximally empower our allies to utilize their full passion, creativity, and brilliance, while earning a sustainable living in some of the most expensive places on the planet? (Have you looked at rents in San Francisco lately?)
Can you take a sliding scale model of service delivery to scale? Would it be possible to provide something of tremendous value (a restorative practices model) to people of lower socio-economic status, and pay them to be there, with the recognition that if we don’t, not only will they suffer, but the burden of care/ impacts will likely fall to the collective, because trauma is criminogenic, puts people in the Emergency Room, and correlates with every adverse health outcome there is. Since social determinants of health are a very large part of what creates health outcomes, should reparations perhaps be considered a public health issue? These are some of the things we are thinking about through the lens of organizational structure.
chaord [kay’-ord] n. fr. E. chaos [Gr. and L. chaos, n. formless, primordial matter; utter confusion; utterly without order or arrangement] and fr. E. order [ME. ordre. fr. OF. ordre, fr. L. ordo, ordinis, n. line, row, regular arrangement in accordance with rules.]
1. any self-organizing, self-governing, adaptive, nonlinear, complex organism, organization, community or system, whether physical, biological, or social, the behavior of which harmoniously blends characteristics of both chaos and order. 2. an entity whose behavior exhibits observable patterns and probabilities not governed or explained by the rules that govern or explain its constituent parts.
chaordic [kay’-ordic], adj., fr. E. chaos and order
1. the behavior of any self-governing organism, organization, or system which harmoniously blends characteristics of order and chaos. 2. patterned in a way dominated by neither chaos or order. 3. characteristic of the fundamental organizing principles of evolution and nature.
chaordic organization, n. an organization modeled on chaordic principles.