Natural Enterprises

There’s something happening in Atlantic Canada. It’s still below the surface, but I started to notice it when I got off the corporate train and had more time to read, listen and watch. At the last local cybersocial, I was asked to talk about Open Source, and suddenly many others connected to the event. I have been finding more and more people in the region doing interesting work at an international level. People like Steve Mallett, with his work for O’Reilly, and Hal Richman who has worked on international projects with the UN. This week I was on PEI and met the folks at SilverOrange who are contributing to the Mozilla project, and have five years of solid business success.

I am also helping Rob Paterson teach a course at UPEI on the New Economy. Rob and I discussed the need for new business models that are based on trust and cooperation, such as Dave Pollard’s Natural Enterprise [I helped to coin this term – my very small contribution so far]:

Natural Enterprise (NE): "A form of self-organized, self-managed, community-based business partnership in which two or more people agree to make a living together as collaborators and peers, to strive to attain what each member needs to achieve for his or her personal well-being, to accept substantial responsibility for each other, and to respect and help the community or communities in which the enterprise operates."

Natural Enterpises exist already, and the more I look around the region, the more I see. Maybe this is because we are on the edge, away from the bustling core. Canada is on the edge of the USA, and Atlantic Canada is on the edge of Canada. In networks, much of the value comes from the edges. Perhaps our perspectives from outside the mainstream enable us to see the larger patterns.

I’m optimistic that our region is going to be a hotbed of collaboration between NE’s. There are a lot of creative, intelligent and innovative small companies collaborating on some big projects. What I have noticed is that most of these people are already giving back to their communities, and they want to make this a better place to live and work. They also understand the hard lessons of business and know how to deliver projects on-time and on-budget. Every time I meet another NE, I feel better for our collective future.

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