Photo by Sam Moqadam

Use Empowerment as a Metric Instead of Value

3 min readMar 13, 2022

Insurgent Tip by COMMON

Despite the best of intentions and working your a** off, some projects just don’t work out. If you read last week’s Insurgent Tip, you know a breakdown between collaborators almost always comes down to miscommunication.

And when the collaborators are operating with significantly different levels of resources and power — say a new startup and a worldwide firm — the consequences of the breakdown are similarly asymmetrical.

In a worst case scenario, these kinds of situations lead to lawsuits, fighting over money or damages. Obviously, you want to avoid the worst case scenario. So, where and how do you start looking for a solution?

When a collaboration doesn’t fulfill its purpose, we have to ask ourselves: what can we do to make the situation right? How can we restore the relationship? How do we move forward?

This Insurgent Tip is for entrepreneurs looking for strategies for making things right again, after they’ve gone wrong.

Insurgent Tip: Use Empowerment as a Metric Instead of Value

Note: The strategies for addressing breakdowns between two large companies or two solopreneurs are going to be different than the strategies for mediating between a startup and large firm. We’re specifically talking about dealing with breakdowns between two asymmetrically-situated organizations. In such cases, we believe that for values-driven organizations, the main focus should be on empowerment rather than value.

To remind you of our example from last week: we recently brought together a startup wanting to build new technology with a large firm. While the work the firm produced was stunningly gorgeous, the communication between the two parties was insufficient to really deliver the end result in a way that would have enabled the project to meet the criteria included in the brief.

In this case, the firm delivered value — definitely value commensurate with what they charge. But the startup wasn’t in a position that allowed them to make use of the value that was delivered. So at…


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