Full Circle Capital/Building Resilient Systems

The work we have done over the past year, has been a remarkable process to be a part of. Immersing in community, applying systems thinking, developing thesis, iterating, getting feedback and exploring the 'in between' spaces of the American Economy. It has been an immense amount of intellectual work and a careful process of building relationships that will bring innovation and resilience to our region. After a year of doing this work, what have I learned? That things are naturally complex (see previous post on complexity) and there are no real endpoints. Whether it is financing a flour mill, coaching an entrepreneur, giving a presentation or training a new team member, the chain reaction impact on the system is huge and nearly impossible to measure.

Economist Charles Goodhart, published a simple theory in 1975, which breathes insight into our work: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure".

Over the past few decades, being an investor has been viewed as an increasingly transactional role, disconnected from the warmth of community, compassion and creativity. Tangentially, both 'profit' and 'impact' have become more rigidly defined, limiting the open growth of those things that cannot be easily quantified. This is because the general focus has been on individual units of measurement that progress on a linear scale. But how do you value the success of a whole, functional, diverse system? The answer, in my perspective comes down to one simple question: does it work?

I look at it like a healthy watershed ecosystem: a river flows through it, nourishing the life that then cycles back into itself continually. One could ask all sorts of specific questions about the specific reactions happening throughout and how significant each is, or how much water is flowing at each point in the system, but all the really matters is that the ecosystem remains interconnected and cyclical enough to function healthily.

My view of this company platform is very similar. The act of delivering capital to individual entrepreneurs and communities using local, open and independent principles is in no way insignificant; but even more significant are the linkages created among them by the process and the cycles that develop around them . These are the impacts that last to build true resilience, and we will never be able to take sole credit for them. Doing so would defeat their purpose.


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