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At the intersection of freedom and responsibility you will find autonomy. Rather than having a precarious nature, autonomy in business actually creates a safe space for creativity through personal responsibility.
Self-responsibility fosters an environment where boundaries can be safely pushed to life-changing results. In business, the combination of ownership and team support combine the best of both worlds from freelancing and corporate employment. Cooperatives such as Polycot Associates thrive on the nature of autonomy for this reason.
Cooperative Principle #4: Autonomy and Independence
The fourth cooperative principle states: "Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy."
This principle is a reminder that cooperatives do not surrender their foundational identity to get more money or more powerful business partners. Cooperatives exist to serve the interests and needs of the member-owners, while delivering the highest quality service to clients. Democratic governance by the members of a co-op is so fundamental that it cannot be relinquished for any reason, including business partnerships or capital.
Individually, each member is a business owner. We each assume responsibility for the entire organization while we coordinate with others to delegate work that is appropriate to their skill set. As member-owners, we are each empowered to negotiate our own responsibilities, areas of authority, and pay rate with the other members of the co-op.
Autonomy in Burner Culture
Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles of Burning Man in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regional Network. The principles were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it has organically developed since the event’s inception. Many of these principles align with those of cooperatives.
One principle is that of Radical Self-reliance. This means everyone brings everything they need to survive and thrive at the event. Like the autonomy of cooperative businesses, this principle looks to the individual for self-care and responsibility.
Radical Self-expression is the fourth principle of Burning Man. Each person is empowered to create and be art in whatever form they are inspired to. The foundation of self-responsibility at the event fosters an environment for creativity, challenges and personal growth.
As an organization, Polycot Associates is autonomous and independent of other organizations. We are not a subsidiary of another or beholden to another company, as are so many corporations. We pride ourselves on allowing each worker to be autonomous while having the team support each individual. This radical self-responsibility empowers us to safely push boundaries and further develop ourselves.