An Enterprise Ethic

I have a personal affection for small business.

My life experience indicates that once organizations exceed a certain ‘people size’ they begin to lose quality rapidly (without extremely intelligent and diligent management).

It is very parallel to Wes Jackson’s ‘Eyes to Acres’.

Over the past two years I’ve attempted to define an ethic that might enable more intelligence in small business organizations (and, by the way, I see a tremendous number of small businesses that I think run extremely intelligently and carefully within our current financial and tax structure). My purpose is not to criticize wonderful small businesses. My purpose is to propose a method of organization, management, and financial operation that is more democratic, compassionate, and responsive than the current financial and tax structure in America.

The legal and ownership structure would:

  • De-emphasize property  – which appears to be shallowly materialistic and static in our current financial system – and replace it with dynamic ‘living’ partner accounts.
  • Manage partner accounts through a democratic process and evaluate partner accounts on a periodic (quarterly/semi-annual?) basis for labor inputs, performance measures, and partner financial inputs/outputs.
  • Include performance measures determined for each partner (and any consideration of new partners) on a periodic basis (performance expectations for the coming period). Those performance measures would/could include labor expectations, financial expectations, business development expectations based upon the partner’s expertise and role within the enterprise.
  • Through periodic partner meetings, would reach consensus on current partner account value, partner expectations over the next period, and partner compensation over the next period.
  • Periodic partner meetings would also determine any financing or external agreements necessary for the effective operation of the enterprise – including a compensation methodology.
  • The total of all partner accounts would be equivalent to the sum of the Fund’s cash and liquid assets plus the appraised value of non-liquid assets.
  • All workers within the enterprise are partners – partner accounts would vary depending on the extent of involvement, financial inputs, etc.

I do not think this is necessarily unusual corporate language for partnerships…I do think it is unusual in application…because it becomes complex.

The value of confronting the difficulties is that it creates morally responsible, religiously sound, sustainable organizations.