Enterprise Version 2.

0 – Part 2 of 4
Arrested on the set of the Dragons’ Den, Warren now crosses The Thin Blue Line.
To celebrate Co-operatives Fortnight in the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives, educator Dr Rory Ridley-Duff continues the story of Warren, an investor arrested on the set of Dragons’ Den after breaking an ASBO by attempting to make a banned investment. The year is 2032… Warren huddled in the back of the police car. He sat uncomfortably between Sharon, the Dragons’ Den producer who insisted on accompanying them to the station, and Officer Natasha who had arrested him. “I’m so sorry,” said Sharon. “I don’t understand why our researchers didn’t spot this when they prepared for the show. I’d never have put you on if I’d known you had an ASBO!” The law on anti-social behaviour orders - ASBOs for short - had been reformed after the revolution of 2018, and again in 2030 during the second Police Reform Act. It now extended to investors who had put their money into activities ‘harmful to human well-being’. Predatory investors – of which Warren was one – received ASBOs banning them from making any investments at all. “Let’s wait and see what Warren’s got to say for himself down the station, shall we?” said Officer Natasha, who felt considerably less sympathetic. “I want to stay with him,” Sharon insisted. Until convicted, the new Police Reform Act gave a person the right to be accompanied by a friend, colleague or relative (in addition to a lawyer) whenever in the presence of law enforcement officers. Warren was taken aback. Why would she do that? He was nothing to her. She was nothing to him. “As long as that’s alright with you?” Sharon asked Warren, sensing his discomfort. Warren nodded, unaware that he had fixed her with a stare that betrayed his confusion. Officer Natasha acknowledged Sharon’s request and phoned ahead to make the arrangements. The police car in which they travelled was light blue. The Old Bill had been gradually transformed after the revelations that came to light during the Levenson Inquiry. In 2013, it published its report and revealed the scale of corruption involving press barons and police officers, and a hidden industry of private investigators who corrupted police services to access information that major news corporations needed to intimidate and harass citizens who dared to challenge their interests. The Thin Blue Line had become too thin so after publication, civil society organisations started to pilot new constabularies with officers directly accountable through a new social enterprise called Citizen Opinion. It went national in 2018, and acted quickly to secure the first Police Reform Act. Police officers were now required to attend mediation if their law enforcement activities harmed a third party not involved in unlawful activity. The Local Bill – as they became known – replaced The Old Bill, and Officer Natasha had a high profile promoting their work. Citizen Opinion was the latest mutual enterprise that gave people a voice in shaping institutions that dominate their lives. The first was Patient Opinion, a venture that transformed NHS services by publishing detailed accounts of patient care. The next project was Employee Opinion - a joint venture with the TUC - that countered corporate power by publishing case studies of working conditions. Citizen Opinion, first established in 2015, allowed contributors to share experiences of the justice system. In all three projects, both positive and negative accounts created a richer and more dynamic knowledgebase for improving practice. *** Within thirty minutes, Sharon and Warren were sitting in a police cell together awaiting his lawyer. As breaking an ASBO could be treated as contempt of court, he faced a possible jail term.
Rory Ridley-Duff, June 2012 [1] Creative Commons 3.0 Licence

“Why are you here?” asked Warren, unable to contain his curiosity. “What?” responded Sharon, perplexed. “Why are you here?” repeated Warren. “It’s a simple enough question.” “I didn’t like the way the Dragons talked to you,” she said. “Isn’t humiliating people like me the point of the show?” he asked. “Absolutely not,” Sharon responded. “It’s to confront the idiotic system you created in the past, and learn about alternatives people are creating for themselves.” “And what are they, exactly?” “Did you learn nothing from the show?” asked Sharon. “I learnt that the Dragons are as pompous and arrogant as they were 25 years ago.” “Nothing else?” she added. “And that they are as pompous and arrogant as I am,” he added without any hint he was joking. Sharon laughed. “So you are capable of self-reflection, then?” she said pointedly. “I’ve always known I’m pompous and arrogant,” he said, this time with a trace of a smile. “Your defining trait, I imagine,” she added. “I don’t believe in traits,” he promptly replied. Sharon was surprised. She had not imagined he would hold such an Owenite perspective. “So, you’re a closet socialist and believe we’re all products of our environment?” she asked. “Not at all,” Warren replied. “I’m just used to honest hard-working entrepreneurs becoming corrupt after I invest a few million quid in their businesses.” “You bring out the worst in them,” Sharon added. “So, why are you here?” he asked again, “because if you’re just going to insult me, I’d prefer you to piss off.” Sharon paused. How far should she speak what was in her mind? As a producer, despite the freedoms that came with the role, there was still a need to hold something in reserve. However, it had not been a spur of the moment choice to jump in the car with Officer Natasha and Warren. It gave her a chance to study him closely and see if he was suitable. “I like you,” she said. “You’ve a funny way of showing it,” Warren responded, pleasantly surprised by her comment. “You don’t bullshit. You don’t pretend. I like that,” she insisted. Warren became a bit suspicious. “Interested in my money?” he probed. “Fuck your money,” she replied with a smile. “Bit of a challenge,” he said, grinning. Adopting a mischievous tone, Sharon replied. “Let’s see what unfolds, shall we?” Warren felt a rush of adrenalin. Was she flirting? Clearly, she was not there just because of the encounter with the Dragons - there was something more and he wanted to know what it was. “So, what is this ‘social enterprise’ thing people keep talking about?” he asked. “Didn’t you learn anything from the Dragons’ Den?” she asked, searchingly. “I learnt they are shit investment opportunities, run by people who are more popular than intelligent, and that they are unlikely to make me any serious money.” “Wrong on all counts,” she replied. “So tell me!” he exclaimed. All the time, he searched in his mind for a way to establish her motive. “You want me to define social enterprise for you?” she asked. “Why not, if it’s so great? What d’you see in it?” “The motive behind them,” she replied, “and the human values created by them.”

Rory Ridley-Duff, June 2012

[2]

Creative Commons 3.0 Licence

“Sentimental rubbish,” Warren intervened, “we used to have charity types in our company. Never made any difference in the long run.” “But it does now,” insisted Sharon. “It has made all the difference in the world.” “Charity sucks,” replied Warren. “You suck,” asserted Sharon, “and social enterprise is not charity,” she added forcefully. “So - it’s not business, it’s not charity, and we can safely say it’s not public sector?” “You’re heading in the right direction,” she encouraged. “But you can’t tell me what it is,” he taunted. Sharon looked at Warren more closely. How could 30 years of debate by-pass him? Had he buried his head in a desert and not noticed how things had changed? “I just can’t believe that I have to,” she responded eventually. “Private enterprise will rise again, one day, you’ll see,” taunted Warren. “You really think so?” she replied, dismissively. Warren did not actually believe this and it showed. Things had gone too far, and while he wanted to pin point Sharon’s interest in him, the robustness and stability of the economy since 2018 was obvious to him and his friends. The EU laws giving governments control over the creation of digital money gave them effective power over private banks. For the first time in living memory, private bank bosses had to develop a profound respect for democratic assemblies. Warren was trying to goad her so she would let slip the source of her passion for social enterprise, but she did not respond in the way he expected. “Have you invested in trading activity where human well-being is central to its purpose and design?” “Lots of people benefitted from my investing, not least those who got jobs,” he replied. “That’s not the question I asked,” she corrected. “Have you invested in trading activity that has the well-being of people as central?” Warren, schooled by investors to ‘avoid do-gooders’ had still made a few philanthropic donations. “I’ve given to charities,” he said defensively. “That’s not the question”, Sharon repeated. “What trading activity have you invested in that makes human well-being the central consideration in decision-making?” Warren tried to think. He had made money from Monsanto, but since finding out the impact of their drugs he was not convinced it constituted ‘well-being’. He had supported agri-businesses, but so many farmers had been poisoned by chemicals or left dependant on genetically engineered seed (to the benefit of the seed maker) that he could not bring himself to call that ‘well-being’ either. Then a thought came into his head. “I once invested in renewable energy,” he proudly announced. “Who benefitted from that?” Sharon asked. “Well…the environment, obviously! Then the farmers on whose land we build turbines,” he added. “Who owned the enterprise? How were its profits shared out?” Sharon asked. Warren could not remember. He got a good return on his investment, but he put that down to the government subsidies that were available at the time. He never thought the technology was sustainably profitable so when he got advance warning that subsidies would be withdrawn, he sold his shares. Warren shrugged his shoulders. “Why make me work so hard?” he complained. “Just tell me.” “I’ve already told you,” she said. “No you haven’t” he argued. “Yes, I have. Three times…” “What?” Warren aped Sharon’s style of talking. “So it’s a business that has the well-being of people as central to its purpose and design?” “Close enough,” Sharon said. “That’s private enterprise,” Warren asserted confidently.

Rory Ridley-Duff, June 2012

[3]

Creative Commons 3.0 Licence

“News International. Union Carbide. Enron. Worldcom. Bechtel. You are kidding, right?” she retorted. Warren remained silent. “Three core ideas,” added Sharon. “1. Social purpose and impact. 2. Ethically informed production and consumption. 3. Wealth sharing decided by democratic assemblies of producers and customers.” “Oh, so now we’re back to ‘co-operative principles’, are we? So, he had been listening, thought Sharon. She nodded to affirm his observation. “And you don’t think I’m capable of participating in that?” challenged Warren. “Do you remember a show called The Apprentice?” asked Sharon, deciding to change the subject. “Yes,” answered Warren, with a slight hesitation. “How do you feel about a role in a new series? “You want me to be the new Alan Sugar?” asked Warren, dumbfounded. “No – you idiot,” she said without a trace of mockery. “I want you to be a contestant!” Warren sized her up as he pondered the proposal. So, that was her motive – a new TV show. “Is Dragons’ Den losing the ratings war?” he quipped. “Just thinking of the future,” she reassured. “So how would it work?” he asked. “You’re good with finance, right?” “I was,” he replied, “before I was made an outlaw.” “Well, the contestants won’t be competing to get an investment in a new social enterprise…” “No? So, what’ll they be doing?” he asked. “Designing new financial products that maximise wealth sharing,” she answered. “Let me guess….for businesses that have human well-being as central to their purpose and design?” “Clever boy,” she chided. “Think of it as a chance to find a useful role in society.” Warren pondered. Would investors with financial ASBOs be competing with him to design new financial products? That might actually be fun. “That could work,” he chirped enthusiastically. “Only one problem…” “What’s that?” asked Sharon. “You’ll have to get me out of here first. I really don’t fancy a stint in jail.” Sharon got up, walked to the door and pressed a buzzer. Officer Natasha opened the door. Officer Natasha became a community liaison officer after positive reports on Citizen Opinion. In this role, she visited the British Broadcasting Co-operative (BBC) frequently and knew Sharon quite well. The role gave her latitude to find creative ways to rehabilitate the most difficult and troubled citizens. “Officer Natasha,” said Sharon, “did you call The Dragons’ Den to alert me about Warren’s ASBO?” “Yes I did,” Natasha replied. “And do you think your constabulary will be pressing charges?” “That depends,” she replied. “On what?” asked Sharon. “On whether he’ll do The Apprentice”, she smiled. Both Natasha and Sharon turned to face Warren. As he began to contemplate this turn of events, he felt a surge of energy ignite his veins. “Officer,” he said. “You’ve got me bang to rights. I confess my sins. I throw myself on the mercy of the court. Please let me make a new start…..please let me be a contestant on The Apprentice.” If you enjoyed this story, please share it with a friend or work colleague.
Dr Rory Ridley-Duff is course leader for the MSc Co-operative and Social Enterprise Management course at Sheffield Business School. His latest book Understanding Social Enterprise: Theory and Practice, co-authored with Mike Bull, sets a new standard for co-operative and social enterprise studies.
Rory Ridley-Duff, June 2012 [4] Creative Commons 3.0 Licence

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful