The large complex social, environmental and economic problems we face today are too big for any one organisation to tackle alone.

They require us to work together in new ways to address the root causes of problems and create new outcomes that benefit everyone.

So here is my manifesto for the sharing economy:

  1. Shared Ownership – stakeholders not shareholders
  2. Shared Profits – where contribution is linked to entitlement
  3. Shared Values & Principles – that increase trust, democracy and engagement
  4. Shared Purpose – to help all in need, and not just a few
  5. Shared Enterprise – so business learns to cooperate
  6. Shared Identity – where collective action and sharing is our renewable energy

Infrastructure underpins the growth of any economy. But we aren’t spending enough on it. 

In 1950 we spent £1 in every £8 of public expenditure on infrastructure. Today that figure is £1 in every £30. 

Our highly centralised UK government controls the spend. The majority of taxation and public spending is controlled by Whitehall. Thus, it is extremely difficult to drive innovative thinking into infrastructure investing. 

There is a disconnect between where money comes from and where money is spent. 

A new information infrastructure is needed to provide commissioners, funders and investors with the data they need to accelerate productivity and growth. 

The trick is to invest only in those organisations that make the most difference. Sustainable growth will never materialise if it comes at the expense of our communities or the environment.

A decentralised model of investment is necessary to incentivise collective action.  

Social and environmental issues are the new market drivers.

Today’s social, economic and environmental problems are so large that no one organisation can tackle them alone.

Collaborative action and shared reward is the only way forward.

Here is a blueprint for a new infrastructure model that creates the market incentive:

1. Common agenda – let’s being by sharing a vision for change that includes a common understanding of the problem, and signing up to a joint approach to solving it, through agreed upon actions.

2. Shared measurement – let’s agree that all participating organisations should be measuring and reporting success in a standardised and uniform way, and let’s have a list of common performance indicators that we use for learning and improvement. (Investors, funders and commissioners might use this measurement as a proxy for social value/impact). 

3. Mutually reinforcing activities – let’s coordinate a set of differentiated activities through a mutually reinforcing plan of action so that we bring together a diverse set of stakeholders from different sectors. Every organisation can help make a difference – including tiny community groups.

4. Continuous communication – let’s engage in frequent and structured open communication. Let’s show the world what good looks like. Let’s build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create a common motivation. Let’s lead like we used to. 

5. Backbone support – let’s use an independently funded resource (called to provide ongoing support:

* That guides the vision and strategy

* That supports aligned activities

* That establishes shared measurement practices

* That builds public will

* That advances policy

* That mobilises resources

What’s needed is more horizontal decision making. We need to link human nature with politics – if I invest, what’s in it for me?

Getting decision making at the right level will accelerate the delivery of outcomes that benefit everyone. 

Let’s create a civic infrastructure where communities and good causes get paid to solve their own problems, and where investors can generate a measurable social return on capital invested.  

The development of community loyalty points, which aim to give a leg-up to people living on the poverty line, is progressing steadily.

The points aim to become the world’s first digital community currency specifically aimed at alleviating economic hardship and promoting social value.

A Bitcoin-style ‘cryptocurrency’, will allow people to earn digital credits in return for voluntary work or contributions to their local community. The tokens would then be redeemable against goods and services provided by participating companies and organisations. and its social sector partners are expecting that councils will opt to support the idea so that people will be able to use points in part payment of core expenses like council tax, rent and business rates.

The idea for the digital currency came about as a result of anti-poverty work carried out by Hull City Council welfare rights manager, Lisa Bovill, and financial inclusion officer, David Shepherdson.

Community or complementary currencies are nothing new. They have been used throughout the 19th and 20th centuries to fill the void when national currencies or welfare systems fail. In recent years, initiatives such as the Brixton and Bristol Pound have achieved success retaining spending power within their own communities.

Money is generally loaned into existence as debt; community loyalty points will be earned into existence against the completion of defined socio-economic outcomes.

The objective is to stimulate grass roots activity that is measurable and which serves the public interest thus giving funders an opportunity to commission specific outcomes that the community get paid to deliver.

It also gives big business an opportunity to support such activity.

Individual users will carry their own password-protected wallets on smart phones or other devices so that transactions will automatically update their points balance.

For the scheme to take off, residents must be able to use the points to buy things they actually want.

Councils could agree to back the currency, for instance by accepting payments of points against written-off council tax, rent and business rate arrears.

Business could play a part, redeeming the currency for low-risk, low-value commodities, such as off-peak services or unsold tickets for one-off events.

This helps them unlock stored value in expensive and underutilised assets like football clubs, cinemas and theatres. The community loyalty points can help these businesses develop pricing that rewards social outcomes and increases the use of their facilities.

It also helps them to capitalise on the personal and community connections that are difficult for online companies to establish.

Harnessing the power of the markets to deliver social outcomes is all a part of the sharing economy. Advances in technology can now unlock the stored value in underused resources and match it with unmet needs.

Potentially it’s a win for business, a win for community and a win for the people in them.

Ok – another woolly and softy-wofty blog post but since no-one ever reads my blogs (ok some do, but not many!) I’ve got licence to entertain myself!

This is a post about the kind of system I’m striving to create. It’s one that’s based on sharing.

Shared ownership with stakeholders not shareholders.

Shared profits where contribution is linked to entitlement.

Shared values and principles to increase engagement, trust and democracy.

Shared purpose to help all in need, not just a few.

And shared enterprise so that business learns to cooperate.

Simple really – sharing is caring so let’s do more of it.

For brands that aspire to creating customer loyalty in this messed up world, there is a fundamental question that needs to be addressed.

What will ‘loyalty’ be? What will ‘business’ become?

The challenge lies in understanding the consumer-citizen-person of the future, and the things that make them tick.

The large complex social environmental and economic problems we face today are too big for any one organisation to tackle alone.

If you don’t get this then stop reading now.

They require us to work together in new ways to address the root causes of problems and to create new outcomes that benefit everyone.

The ‘benefit everyone’ bit is the new market driver.

But why have government and business been so slow to react?

(Because the status quo is too darn cosy, maybe?)

Lurking in the background there is also the question of to what extent digital natives will allow big corporates to collect and use personal information.

What will they expect in return?

Consumers increasingly face the problem of having a wallet bursting with loyalty cards so the value of loyalty is becoming diluted – people can’t see the value no more and want something that takes the idea of reward to the next level.

With new systems that make prices dynamic, rewards instant, and responses to consumer demands individually relevant, it seems to me that traditional retail loyalty models are fast becoming irrelevant.

We are beginning to see the emergence of a set of consumer demands and expectations that corporate brands will no longer be able to deliver alone.

(BTW, ‘corporate brands’ = Apple, as much as your local authority or indeed the NHS).

Strategic cross-sectoral alliances, designed to deliver sophisticated choice and content to complex consumer and citizen needs, are just around the corner.

Individuals are beginning to gain the upper hand in terms of the power dynamic and principles such as ‘great customer service’ are no longer a selling point – they’re the starting point.

Customer and citizen engagement is now a core function that must cut across individual silos. It has to focus the entire organisation on the contextual needs and desires of the individuals that consume their goods and or services, 24/7.

Remain relevant or vanish forever.

An individual’s idea of reward and expectations of loyalty are moving away from the mindless consumerist bullshit to a dynamic, exciting, and ever-changing experience that helps people become more empowered and able to change about the world around them.

In the coming years, corporate brands will need to be disruptive in their thinking about rewards and seek out new ways to help people become better at solving their own problems and those in their local communities.

The way loyalty and reward is perceived has changed. A common understanding is beginning to emerge – one that rewards contribution to the common good because it can be measured and metered and diced and sliced.

The device is the focus of the future. It knows where you are, what you redeem and will consolidate all your information into one dashboard of good. If you don’t do good you don’t get the reward.

Traditional loyalty reward schemes measure past customer behaviours and transactions. In the future reward will most likely be linked to contribution towards activities that benefit the wider public interest.

If you as a corporate manager can’t transparently demonstrate how your organisation in some way serves the public interest, then consider yourself toast. We can’t have one rule for the unemployed and another for the corporate elite, because that isn’t fair.

And people know it.

Since all consumer- / citizen-facing organisations (aka brands) have to consistently demonstrate their value to consumers, affiliation’s between the public, private and third sector should begin to blur.

Remixed rewards (aka ‘Community Loyalty Points) are just around the corner (or for my business readers ‘Coalition Loyalty Schemes’ are just around the corner).

That’s my take on it anyway – what’s yours?

How else will they deliver a joined up and customised experience that helps people develop as people?

There’s a bit of a debate raging in the crypto currency world about Bitcoin and its value. Beyond being able to transfer value I’m not convinced it’s of much use in the long run, and here’s why:

  • It’s illegitimate: money is given legitimacy by society not by a “blockchain”. In the real world the Bank of England or any of the other central banks of their jurasdictions are the ultimate creators of money.  The only reason why we trust £sterling is because the UK Government in the form of the Bank of England and the Treasury gives it legitimacy.
  • It’s not simple: why would any sane person trust something they don’t understand. We need to lead with the problem we’re trying to solve, not a cool technology. It’s not intuitive: the problem is that money is something that everybody should intuitively understand. You wouldn’t buy any currency unless you trusted the governments and the economies behind them.
  • It’s not inclusive: you either need a computer that costs a fortune or a degree in computing to earn a living out of it.
  • It’s not regulated: in the case of currencies, regulation is vital: It gives credence to the ‘tool’ by establishing a supervised framework, removing fears and doubts, reducing the speculative element and thus bolstering confidence.

I do believe Bitcoin will birth a new wave of useful digital currencies that have the power to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems but only if the currency is earned rather than mined into existence.

“What becomes of a man if the process of production ‘takes away from work any hint of humanity, making of it a merely mechanical activity’? The worker himself is turned into a perversion of a free being”. E.F. Schumacher.

Bitcoin and crypto simply aren’t human enough. Machines rather than people prove the work. Who wants a machine to approve that a job’s been done satisfactorily?

We’re at a cross roads in design terms. Should man or machine decide what work is of value? Should man or machine approve such work has been done so that the funds can be released?

These are some moral questions to be considered when designing a new currency. Whilst Bitcoin isn’t the answer it’s a very good start and something to build off.

Is there a market for community?

Think about it.

Is there a commercial market for community? Big Society Capital thinks so, as does the emerging (and global) impact investment market.

Business ideas that solve problems make markets, and that’s a fact.

If community solves problems then there’s a market for it but its value needs packaging in a way that sells in the market.

So is it the packaging or the market that’s missing.

I’d say the packaging.

The opportunity here is to make community pay. As in literally ‘make community pay’ so that people and organisations get paid to produce more community.

Think Bitcoin, but better.

Making community pay would give communities the tools to make more community. Making more community gives purpose and meaning to those who produce it.

It brings its own rewards, especially when linked to the markets.

It’s a win-win, as long as government keeps out of the way.

Making community a long-term and goal for business to invest in would harness the markets.

But how big is the market?

Surely it’s absolutely massive? If we had more community we’d have less to police, less to govern, less to clean; more to share, more to help and more to shout about.

In other words, we’d have a larger ‘divi’.

The markets want a safe and secure home for their money. What better place than community?

Community is a broad church I know, and that’s why it’s a massive market opportunity.

Does anyone know how big?

Please Tweet me @mikeriddell62

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