Elysium Studios is founded on the principles of solidarity and cooperation. However, we will not rest on our laurels. We will actively work to make every Elysian feel like part of the team. Being a cooperative, solidarity and cooperation is a part of the culture here at Elysium.

In our last post in this series, we discussed the basics of why a solidarity economy is necessary in this day and age. Today, we will discuss how Elysium Studios intends to foster solidarity and cooperation. This, being one of the six core values of the solidarity economy, is crucial to how we conduct ourselves as a cooperative.

Solidarity and Cooperation: More than just empty words

Sure, we value solidarity and cooperation. Every company says that to varying degrees. Few of them go to the degree we have by forming our business as a cooperative and a B Corp. Everyone here at Elysium knows that we’re all building something we will all benefit from equally. The proceeds don’t just go into my pockets, but are put back into the cooperative and into the community.

There is a sense of mutual trust and respect amongst the worker owners and we rely on each other to advance the cooperative in our daily work.

How not to do it

I’ll tell you about an experience I’ve had as a computer programmer. I had a boss that was more of a boss than a colleague. He was completely unreasonable in his demands, he wouldn’t pay his staff when he said he would, and he had very little empathy for what other people were going through. Communication with him was incredibly abysmal and when I saw his name calling on my iPhone, I was filled with a sense of dread. This boss was incredibly influential in one way. He taught me how not to be a boss.

A Better Approach: Psychological Safety

Here’s one thing I love about my former employer, Greystone Technology: they care about their people. Greystone Technology has a very important value when it comes to talking about its staff called “Psychological Safety”. Here’s a video from Greystone that I think explains it well.

They’re right about one thing: a company’s culture can’t just be “fun”. That tends to be pretty shallow and it doesn’t allow people the trust that they need to flourish as professionals. We cannot rest on our laurels just because we’re a cooperative and a B-Corp. We must strive to be better and to do that, we need to be honest with ourselves and each other.

As someone who isn’t an artist, I have a hard time holding myself back from checking in on the creatives working on the visual and musical assets. Having said that, though, I need to learn to let go and trust them as professionals. Deep down, I know that the team I’ve built got this. I just need to make sure it shows in my language. Therefore, I am committing to the process of directed autonomy and psychological safety. It’s not my job to be a babysitter, therefore I’m going to trust them to be the great, highly-talented professionals I know them to be.

In conclusion

I think it is fair to say that solidarity and cooperation are a result of trust. The beautiful thing about being a cooperative is that we’re all in the thick of it. We’re all involved in the active production of our first visual novel, My First Castellan. This is by design, as I hate the idea of management. When I first read Steve Wozniak say that old engineers become managers, it saddened me.

As a computer scientist, I hate not being in the thick of it. And I got my doctorate because I want to make amazing stuff, not managing the people doing that. So, when I learned about cooperatives, it excited me because it’s a way to spread the decision making power and to not join the Babysitter’s Club, as Peter Melby would put it.

(Cover photo credits by Thomas Hawk, used under the Creative Commons BY-NC licence)

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