Our People: Viv Maidaborn – Loomio Dreamer and Vision Maker

Vivien Maidaborn

Viv is a driving force behind Loomio — and one of the most well connected members of our group. It’s become a joke in the team that if we need to find more users, we should just send Viv for a walk down the street — she’s sure to bump into at least five people she knows. But finding users is only small part of the amazing-ness that is Viv, she helps us map our course through social impact, casts magic spells before parties, and helps us keep diversity top of mind. Here is Viv, in her own words:

Name: Vivien Maidaborn

Age: 53

Title: Loomio Dreamer and Vision Maker (aka business strategy)

Why and how did you get involved with Loomio?

After a 30 year career in the not-for-profit sector, I realised that charity models weren’t delivering scalable change anywhere in the world. In fact, most of the baseline measures (economic + social inequality, environmental degradation, etc.) I had thought would improve in my working life were actually getting worse.

So, it felt to me like real social change would have to combine the skills, tools and the leverage of business, with the values, emotional intelligence and compassion that can be found in community and citizenship movements.  This for me is what I mean by ‘social enterprise’.

In 2011 I resigned from my charitable CEO job and went looking for the right opportunity in this social enterprise space. I was introduced to Loomio and the rest is history!

What do you do day-to-day?

I guess my role splits in about three different ways:

  • My first and most primary focus is business development and strategy. A business network needs to connect with real people with shared values, so I am working to understand people’s needs and set up Loomio so it works for them.
  • Secondly, I do lots of thinking about horizontal organisations and how to support people to thrive in a no-boss environment, while at the same time managing accountability and performance. I also am challenged and excited thinking about the role of a Board in a workers’ cooperative.
  • My third role is making sure that the governance structures we set up are recognisable by the outside world, and at the same time serving us well as a social enterprise cooperative.

[Aside: She also helps us cast magic spells – like this one, for our Launch Party]

Magic spell

What inspires you about working as part of the Loomio community?

Well, in the end, I just get incredibly excited by the diversity of people using Loomio, and the importance of their work in us achieving our vision of creating a world where everyone can have a say in the decisions that affect them. In a day-to-day way, I am interested in a particular customer’s needs, but in a big, epic way I am interested in how it all adds up to changing the way democracy works in our world.

Loomio says its interested in social impact. What does that mean to you?

At a very simple level it means that we are motivated by the difference we make in the world, not by the profit we make. The tricky thing is, how do we measure this?

What has emerged so far is that we know Loomio has impact at different levels:

  1. the number and diversity of people participating on Loomio,
  2. the number of decisions being made etc.

These  are easy to measure.

But after that, the indicators such as quality of decisions being made and how we can measure improvement in quality gets a bit more tricky. Loomio will get to the point where we can measure the impact we have at a macro level, e.g  on citizens opportunity to participate in local  democracy, or input into policy, or the ways decisions are made through local council at the neighbourhood level.

What social impact do you want to see in five years time, as a result of Loomio?

Viv at Social Enterprise week I think within the organisations that people organise themselves into – workplaces, community groups, schools, cooperatives, political parties – in five years time people will expect to be involved in many decisions and  expect that tools are available to make that happen. The idea that a small number of people make the decisions that affect very many people in the world: that will be an idea whose time has gone.

I think this cultural change in the expectations of citizens will fundamentally change the way society works. My hope is that the five year plan might exceed our expectations and that hundreds of millions of people have access to tools that make it possible for them to be involved in the decisions that affect them.

Author: Emma

I am a post-grad student, hailing from Cape Town, but studying in Wellington, New Zealand. I love laughing, cooking, hiking and exploring interesting places!

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