Having joined Outlandish a little over 7 months ago, it feels like a good time to reflect and share what it’s been like showing up at a worker-owned technology co-operative. 

What is a co-operative? 

This concept, structure and collaborative ecosystem was, and is, still pretty new to me. So far I’ve discovered it to be an everyday approach to collaborating with a collective of people that own and energise this Outlandish ecosystem, without lofty shareholder incentives (among many other things). Outlandish are an asset-locked non-profit organisation, and 100% of their surplus goes into developing new social innovation projects, across their tech-for-good and co-operative ecosystems.

Culturally the Outlandish co-operative does exactly what it says on the tin. The people and projects are co-operative and collaboration is not only encouraged, it’s embedded in how we work. With this incentive of true collaboration I’ve learnt new ways of communicating; listening and speaking. As part of my onboarding I’ve attended Sociocrary 101 and I’m soon to attend Reframing Conflict.


I’ve learnt that co-operatives run using a flat hierarchy and decentralised structure. This means we navigate in teams named Circles. Each Circle has a dedicated focus for example we have a Design Circle, Tech Circle, People Circle and so on. There is no one leader or ‘boss’ aligned in the Circles (or wider organisation). Instead we use consent based decision making (a democratic approach, where all voices in the circle have equal opportunity to be heard as well as present and consent to decisions being proposed). We also have an ‘x card’ option, so if someone doesn’t wish to participate or doesn’t feel comfortable they can opt out for any reason they may or may not wish to share. 

FONT framework

I’ve been introduced to a framework that Outlandish uses to facilitate people-focused meetings. This framework creates structure and allows us to move forward into complex conversations with courage, purpose and trust. Using the FONT framework looks like this:

Tough conversations are inevitable and although this framework gives structure and directions, I don’t find them an easy activity. For me, it’s a new and unique practice to have a dedicated container to understand and express immediate and real human dynamics at work. The fact that the organisation’s development puts people at its heart and lends its ears and a framework for us to check-in, get real and listen sits really well with me. 

Climate Check

Outlandish dedicates a person to run climate checks during meetings. The climate checker keeps an eye on how people are feeling  and has the option to pause, check-in, recognize and inquire with any high pressure situations and/or emotions that may arise. 


At Outlandish, differences between people are recognized and addressed with a framework orientating around understanding. Although there are inevitable knee jerk reactions, I think the long term rewards are far greater. Essentially, for me, a divine common denominator is that we are striving for high performance teams so we can deliver quality work that we believe exists to have a positive impact on the world.

Identifying and exploring my ‘range of tolerance’, bringing my ‘whole-self’ and emotions to work has been a new process. I think I’m still doing some un-learning which can be challenging, but mostly refreshing. 

A Prime Directive 

One of the agile principles (a prime directive) Outlandish share and practise in our work, that helps me sleep better at night:

‘Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.’

The Agile retrospective prime directive

All in all, I’m constantly thrilled by the value Outlandish are delivering to their people and projects. The ‘always learning’ mindset is infectious (I have a new found love of retro’s) and so is the culture of kindness. I’m really happy to be able to bring such deep, deliberate (people focused) practice to everyday technology development and work in tech-for-good. I think working with a co-operative is a step in the right direction for me and for the future of work.