Let’s talk about cooperative economics. I don’t mean the financial side of coops (i.e not this), but rather people working together to better each others opportunities for economic prosperity. This idea is simple, yet our capitalistic paradigm makes is surprisingly hard to unlock.

Capitalism is a zero-sum game. The value of the buying/selling cancels out for participants (learn more). In contrast, I’ve seen many times that looking out for each other financially can create more value for all participants and liquidity in the market.

I designed this simple game to quantify this theory. I split 14 participants in teams of 2 and gave them ~20 fictitious needs and resources. Each need/resource had a point number ascribed to it that is awarded upon finding a match.

In Round 1, each team sent a delegate to the “marketplace” in the center of the room with a subset of their needs/resources. They took turns going around and matching their needs/resources. Their goal was to maximize their team’s points (i.e. money). A player could go to another teams corner and see their entries, but that was all they could do on their turn.

For Round 2, the goal was to maximize the points (money) unlocked in general. Players in the marketplace were able to look to find matches for other teams, and freely told them what they had back in their corner.

When done Round 2 (the cooperative round) every team had at least 2x the points of Round 1. Also, the overall points created was 4x that of the first round!  It did this in about 1/2 of the time!

I have an timelapse from overhead showing how the teams moved in the space differently, which was also very fascinating. In brief, working together to help each thrive economically helps ourselves (the individual), the other participants, and the system as a whole become far more efficient, fluid, and abundant!

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