<aside> <img src="/icons/arrow-right_orange.svg" alt="/icons/arrow-right_orange.svg" width="40px" /> Home | About | What do we mean by rules? | Why are we doing this? | Rules in the current system | Rules for the future system | Resources | Get involved | Thanks

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How we organise and govern in an economy designed for life

Illustrations by Terri Po

Illustrations by Terri Po

Beyond the Rules is an initiative that practices organising and governance for an economy designed for life. We are particularly interested in the deep, thoughtful and highly creative work required to rewrite, reinvent or reimagine rules, norms and laws that hold us in the current system.

Without ways of organising and governing that devolve agency and embrace interconnectivity, we don’t believe we have a pathway to a future of dignity, safety and joy. We think this means alternative governance capabilities and rules (read more here) to the current norm, via a boringly bureaucratic revolution that can underpin radical possibility.

Beyond the Rules exists to collaboratively and openly build operational structures, tools, practices, networks and crafts that can make this systemic governance possible in the everyday - this portal seeks to share & invite them widely.

<aside> 💡 Know what you’re looking for? Jump straight to the relevant portal below where you’ll find deep-dives into sense-making, materials, examples and resources:

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<aside> <img src="/icons/signature-document_green.svg" alt="/icons/signature-document_green.svg" width="40px" /> Employment Contracts →

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<aside> <img src="/icons/archive_green.svg" alt="/icons/archive_green.svg" width="40px" /> Funding & Partnership Agreements →

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<aside> <img src="/icons/cash_green.svg" alt="/icons/cash_green.svg" width="40px" /> Pay →

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<aside> <img src="/icons/timeline_green.svg" alt="/icons/timeline_green.svg" width="40px" /> Grantmaking practice →

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About Beyond the Rules

Beyond the Rules has been operating as an initiative since 2020. It started as a field of organisations, funders, places and networks that have been designing, practicing, learning and sharing what it means to organise and govern in systems for and in a better future. If you want to know more about exactly who we are, and what we have done so far there’s more information here - Who and What is Beyond the Rules?

During this time, the field of collaborators and contributors have focussed on what would be required to re-craft organising and governance practices within current structures towards a deep appreciation for our entanglement and civic agency. We call this Between the Rules.

The work spanned over two phases which included making sense of the challenges and possibilities through doing, alongside deep work into knotty areas including employment contracts, pay, funding and partnership agreements and grantmaking. Much of this work relates to how our current organisations and institutions can devolve agency and participate generatively in complex systems.

As we move into phase 3 of Beyond the Rules, we are zooming more into organising structures beyond the norm, although work from phase 1 and 2 will continue to be developed and refined.

This means we will practice organising and governance practices in emergent structures. We call this Beyond the Rules.

We will be asking ourselves, what kind of capabilities will enable us to organise and govern in ways that embrace the power of our entanglement and devolve agency? How can we start to nourish these together?

<aside> 💡 Join us and others - we are one group among many exploring this, part of a wider movement for deeply democratic and just ways of building the world around us.

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Illustrations by Terri Po

Illustrations by Terri Po


What do we mean by rules?

When we use the term ‘rules’ in this page, it can refer to various types of mental, cultural and structural rules that shape what we create. These might include (but aren’t limited to):

Cultural ‘deep codes’

e.g. imagined Self e.g. Homo Economicus, Selfish Gene, Human Kind, Modular Man

Language

e.g. English (noun orientated) verse Anishinaabemowin (80% verb based)

Social Imaginaries

e.g. norms, protocols, memes

Knowledge systems

e.g. libraries, universities, peer review, Scientific Method

Information systems

e.g. books, Internet, registries, organisational databases

Decision systems

e.g. Parliaments, Citizens’ Assemblies/Juries, Referendums, Company Boards

Commercial Models

e.g. value models, Financial models, instruments, production systems - interoperability standards, protocols, API, TCP

Ennoblement & Regulatory, Institutional systems

e.g. contract law, incentives, policies, articles of association

Codified rights and norms

e.g. human + non human + time, common law, human rights, property rights

Illustrations by Terri Po

Illustrations by Terri Po

<aside> <img src="/icons/circle-seven-eighths_orange.svg" alt="/icons/circle-seven-eighths_orange.svg" width="40px" /> Our aim is not to create a fixed definition of ‘rules’ but to use it as nod towards the underlying norms (fixed either in law/writing or fixed in our individual or collective imaginaries) in play.

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<aside> <img src="/icons/circle-six-eighths_orange.svg" alt="/icons/circle-six-eighths_orange.svg" width="40px" /> In phase 3-4 of Beyond the Rules we will be particularly looking at the ‘hard rules’ that shape how we organise and govern, such as those laid out (and under discovery) in this page.

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Why are we doing this work?

At its heart, the Beyond the Rules initiative has three key drivers:

A deep belief and commitment to the idea that we can do better and that there are many possible futures in which people and the planet can thrive,

co-exist with dignity, orientate towards life, repair harm, (re)discover other forms of beauty and connection. Beyond the Rules wants to create and share the collective structures needed to make purposeful and significant steps towards this future. It aims to be a link between bold ambition, and what needs to happen on the ground (the boringly beautiful detail oriented work) to turn that ambition into reality.

A conviction that it is bureaucratically possible to manifest the changes needed.

Today’s systems of rules, laws and layers of bureaucracy in many cases inhibit or deter people from working in the deeply collaborative and more holistic ways they want to bring into being. Because there’s no clear place to start, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, think it’s all too much and give up. But humans created these systems, so it’s entirely possible for us to recreate them to suit the world we would prefer to live in, and we can wield new technologies to help us to do so. Beyond the Rules wants to show very practically that alternative forms of organising and governance are possible, necessary, bureaucratically viable and being born.

The status quo is not something we can live with.

Whether we look at the climate emergency, growing disparity between rich and poor, mental health crisis, loss of trusts in governments or economic rules that drive wealth-hoarding - there’s very little to indicate that the path we are on leads to a more prosperous, healthy and thriving world. The cost of this path is already catastrophic. At the same time, there are increasing people, organisations, initiatives and governments seeking to change this course. We hope that Beyond the Rules can play a role, amongst these many other change makers, by bringing its skills and capabilities around governance and organisational practices to the table.

Illustrations by Terri Po

Illustrations by Terri Po

We invite you read the initial framing blogs for more context and detail on what originally brought the co-founding partners to do this work, and we invite you to share your reflections and insights.

<aside> 💡 Read the framing blogs: Dark Matter Labs Lankelly Chase Democratic Society York MCN

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Between the Rules:

Re-crafting organising and governance practices within current systems

Resources, insights and tools for more deeply democratic approaches to how we structure organisations, pay each other, distribute funds, and shift the cultures and practices of a system within existing norms and rules.

Illustrations by Terri Po

Illustrations by Terri Po