Why Cooperation Matters Today

Submitted by Doug Addison on .
We are more successful when we cooperate with others who know how to cooperate

In the past, I've written about the similarities between the cooperative economy and open source software for website development. Both instill a strong sense of community ownership and the power of participation. “By working together through local, national, regional, and international structures, cooperatives improve services, bolster local economies, and deal more effectively with social and community needs.” (Source: America’s Electric Cooperatives)

In the same way that cooperative principle 6 (Cooperation Amongst Cooperatives) strengthens the movement, so too does a spirit of cooperation. Sharing and mentorship in open source software benefit developers and the projects they contribute to. While working on a project with a highly skilled team that is distributed, I came to see the importance of this cooperation principle in action. I finally came to realize that I must face my fear of looking or sounding stupid, and open up to others by asking for help — especially from someone who has already solved the web development problem I'm working on. The more of us with familiarity in the latest tools and techniques means the more work there will be for all of us going forward. Or, to use a lame economic analogy, a rising tide really does lift all boats.

As a Senior Web Developer and manager-owner with Polycot Associates, I’ve had many opportunities to see the positive impact of cooperation in action. Cooperation leads to a more effective work environment, innovation, and a stronger community. These are some of the ways I’ve seen it improve business and community:

Smart delegation of business administration tasks such as accounting by hiring another cooperative who already excels in the field, such as Key Figures Bookkeeping Cooperative.

Getting financial insights and support from organizations that support cooperatives, such as Cooperative Fund of New England.

Building relationships with other cooperative colleagues who also share the principle of cooperation and sharing business referrals.

Giving back to our local community by volunteering as board members: Austin Cooperative Business Association and Wheatsville Food Co-op.