Coop Profile: Loomio

This profile is Part I of an interview with Alanna Krause, co-founder and worker-owner of Loomio, a online software worker cooperative based in Aotearoa New Zealand. Read Part II hereJoin the conversation on Democracy at Work's Loomio page as well:

Name: Loomio
Industry: Online Open-Source Software

Could you provide some background on Loomio? What problem does your service/product solve?

Loomio is a decision-making tool for groups who want to collaborate democratically. It enables more transparency and inclusion, with fewer meetings and emails. Unlike a survey or poll, it facilitates a process of constructive deliberation, synthesising solutions from diverse viewpoints.

We created Loomio to solve a problem we ourselves were having, and then found a lot of other people need this tool, too. It can be very difficult to get everyone together for a meeting, and even then you often only hear from certain voices or you run out of time. Meanwhile, trying to make clear, well-documented decisions using mass reply-all emails or open-ended social media messaging is a mess.

With Loomio, it’s easy to include all the stakeholders, and converge on clear outcomes you can act on together.

Loomio originally grew out of the intersection of activists from the Occupy movement and entrepreneurs from Enspiral, a network of positive impact businesses. We realized we were trying to solve the same problem — fast, inclusive, effective decision-making — so we tackled it together. 

What inspired you to found Loomio as a worker cooperative as opposed to a traditional model?

We’re a social enterprise, driven by our impact mission. We believe that more groups practicing effective, inclusive decision-making can change organizational dynamics at a global scale. In order to have that kind of impact externally, we have to authentically live it internally.

Equitable collaboration is in our DNA. For us, being a co-op was an easy choice, because it so closely fit with our most deeply-held values. Beyond that, it was a really effective way of clarifying stakeholding and sharing responsibility.

We want to have impact with our product, but we also think the way we’ve structured our company and how we work is part of our social mission. We want to show it’s possible to do a startup differently, with no bosses, driven by pro-social values, and with true collective ownership.

The Loomio team. All workers at Loomio are also owners of the company.

How have the worker-owners decided to share the responsibilities of running the business?

We open-source all our processes, structures, and policies in our Co-Op Handbook, which you can see at

Collaboration and co-ownership doesn’t mean everyone is involved in every decision. That would be impractical. We work to strike a balance of empowered delegation and collective input. The ultimate mandate in the co-op traces back to the worker-owners as a group. From there we make a range of delegations such as the to the board of directors (governance) and coordinators (operational management).

The cooperative members agree the overall strategy annually, and get together once a quarter to set some high-level outcomes for the whole co-op. The team self-organizes into working groups (like product development or marketing) to achieve these outcomes. We are a fully agile organization, running two-week sprints and daily standups. Individuals have a lot of autonomy in their day to day work, and we emphasize good reporting and documentation so others can keep up to date.

Of course we’re heavy users of Loomio ourselves! We use it to make decisions among the members of a working group, and to widen out the stakeholding to the whole co-op if needed. We’ve made over 500 decisions together as a team on Loomio. It allows us to be dynamic and responsive in a fast-moving environment, breaking the trade-off between speed and inclusion, because we need both.
Read Part II of the profile here. Meanwhile, explore Loomio on your own, and join the conversation on Democracy at Work's Loomio page as well:

Showing 9 comments

  • commented 2016-10-18 21:41:04 -0400 · Flag
    @peopleforanewsociety Frantin Edwards -Awesome! Nailed it big time!
  • commented 2016-10-18 09:56:51 -0400 · Flag
    This is a most interesting & technologically-implemented important development for a New Society based on real democracy, where we work but also where we live. Community (personal) and work (social) to be effective at not only answering the needs of people, but ASKING what those needs are, will be crucial to a successful, true democracy. Production and consumption are natural parts of our human existence and cooperation and balance between how, where, why we work, where, how and why we live together in communities…these require ways of communicating, deciding and practicing a more sustainable and healthy economy and civic structure. A group we are members of, PeopleForANewSociety, has developed the conceptual framework for an interactive and balanced model, post-coop project you might say…(see our website Visuals 1,2,3) while recognizing the need for gradual transition— not just reforming on the basis of what we are told is the only way (TINA) but with a goal (politically as well as organizationally at work & in communities) to move towards a fully cooperative, post-class divided, post-private property, post-wage, post-profit economy and culture.Surprising numbers of We The People are beginning to understand (Occupy, Bernie Sanders, Kshama Sawant and Jill Stein campaigns (Green New Deal Platform), development of cooperative models) the values of capitalism (its inherent SYSTEMIC FLAWS) hinder our freedom & ability to reach our potential as healthy, creative & fulfilled human beings. A new truly democratic society, much as this Loomio project suggests, is possible—yet to create it requires its based on recognizing the very human needs for transition, experimentation, ‘failure’ …learning how and avoiding pitfalls of a profit-driven structure…that points to a new way of living together…post-capitalism. THANK YOU LOOMIO and Democracy @ Work, Prof Wolff and all members for this inspiring,practical & in-practice breakthrough pointing the way toward a more humane, healthy, fulfilling and sustainable future! Congratulations & a new way forward. PFANS
  • commented 2016-10-14 20:21:12 -0400 · Flag
    @gary O’c – I don’t know if you are aware of this but your third “law” uses the word “employee”:
    3. Collaboration > Hierarchy
    In the freedom economy, outdated hierarchical systems no longer work. Instead of “shifting the responsibility” up the management ladder, flatter structures empower employees to make decisions and feel responsible for the company’s success.

    The whole idea of “employee” is what any self-respecting Marxist is working as hard as possible to eliminate. I’m not sure how this fits into the philosophy of d@w. Have you listened at all to R.D. Wolff’s lectures or perhaps gotten really deep into the philosophy of the Mondragon outfit in Spain? Moreover, don’t you think when these “empowered employees” in this “flat structure” start making more decisions that they will not want to be a subordinate employee anymore? What I’m seeing here is either a transitional phase of said company to an all-out worker owned and operated affair or it’s a ploy for the owner of the company to keep his profits and control while making his subordinates feel so proud of themselves. BTW, I am going to read this Forbes-endorsed Richie Norton piece and give it the thorough lavage it probably deserves.
  • commented 2016-10-14 16:15:49 -0400 · Flag
    This is an impressive confirmation of the above that has just been written, especially the third of the five principals:
  • commented 2016-10-13 20:23:34 -0400 · Flag
    Cool tool! I can see using it in the action group for consensus.
  • commented 2016-10-13 17:12:10 -0400 · Flag
    Way to go my brothers and sisters! Spread it, spread it — it is our answer to capitalism.
    Congratulations for pioneer work well done!
  • commented 2016-10-12 21:01:48 -0400 · Flag
    Kindly keep me in the loop too… sounds very interesting.
  • commented 2016-10-12 18:31:56 -0400 · Flag
    I was amazed to get your announcement today. I wrote a book which included a discussion of the newly emerging possibility of running any organization – including a country but let’s start with an employee coop – using the internet and getting rid of all representatives (The Endgame of Politics). This has been the Anarchist movement’s dream for a century or more but it is only with the modern development of the internet that it becomes possible. I am searching actively for software to implement this application, but there is a necessary feature of this software that you have probably not incorporated. I want to discuss all of this with you.
  • commented 2016-10-12 17:38:04 -0400 · Flag
    “It allows us to be dynamic and responsive in a fast-moving environment, breaking the trade-off between speed and inclusion, because we need both”.

    If this last statement is true… “We’re off to the races”!
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