Posts filed under 'Entrepreneurial Community Ecosystems'

More on Role/Actor Scenario Patterns: The A-Team and the Sandbox

nmw said:

Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn said:

For those who might be interested in digging deeper into the insights that Mark has raised in his excellent post, we encourage you to read an installment of The Nanocorp Primer first published in May of 2000: Role/Actor Scenario Patterns: The A-Team and the Sandbox, subtitled A Pattern to Enable Nanocorp Replication (AKA New Economy Job Creation). (That ‘New Economy’ phrase sure dates this piece doesn’t it!)

Would like to look into this — is it available?

YIPES! It’s right here.

We blocked in the link and then forgot to paste in the URL in at the bottom of the post before hitting ‘Save’! Thanks for pointing this out Norbert. Corrected here and in the original post.

Another failure mitigating factor is that a nanocorp (the networked solo or family-based entrepreneur) is very likely to be a concurrent rather than a serial entrepreneur, that is, to live what Charles Handy calls a Portfolio Life. In this way, the Portfolio Life nanocorp avoids the catastrophic meltdown of having ‘all your eggs in one basket’ or business.

Germany is known for its rather large number of Mittelstand firms. But of course you’re taking that another step tinier via the concept of time-shares. And the stratification helps to mitigate risk.

However, what about specialization (yes the notorius philosophy of Adam Smith and/or Fredrick Taylor, Ford Motors, etc.)? Can the “renaissance person” be as efficient as the “robot” that does 1 (and only 1) thing day in and day out? This has been hotly debated for decades — if not close to a full century. I recall the case of a Volvo study where workers increased their productivity because of job rotation (”variety is the spice of life”). But, this was rotation among a small set of jobs — all quite similar, all somehow related, all ending in a Volvo (I guess). If the jobs are entirely unrelated, I suspect the “cost” of learning several jobs could be quite significant (and would result in only “sufficiently good” results rather than “excellent” results).

Nonetheless, a “sufficiently good” observed economy may nonetheless in reality be better than one that is observed to be “excellent”(?).

We think you did a good job of both point and counterpoint. :-)
–Sohodojo Timlynn and Jim–

Add comment December 9th, 2005

Hawala Microfinance and Entrepreneurial Community Ecosystems

Peter Rees said:

You’re looking at a Hawala system, plus.

Hi Peter… great link! Absolutely, that is one of many names and a dominant form for this kind of system. The ‘plus’ aspect, as you are probably suggesting, is the Internet-based software platform to enable the reach and transparency of such a system to support trusted peer-to-peer agreements on a global scale.

To get our thinking out of the formal loan and security ‘banking instrument’ thoughtspace, we’ve used a reference to ‘investors’ (NED inprosumers) purchasing such things as ‘Loom Time Craft Futures’. The idea is to get out of the realm of ownership and into the realm of participation. You might, for example, want to purchase such craft-making futures in order to have a voice in what ‘links’ can be included in the Impact (supply) Chain that moves a product from producer to consumer. Here, the Impact Point ‘links’ can be various fund-raising campaigns on any number of interpersonal or community dimensions. Under such a dynamic collaborative marketplace, the investor’s expected return could take on any number of spendable forms of ‘currency’ to ‘fund’ further participation/voice in the entrepreneurial communiy ecosystem.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment December 8th, 2005

Creativity in Microfinance

John Berger said:

From a US perspective a membership club would probably not be a complete legal solution. From the SEC site [snip]…

John,

An MFM Membership Club does not have to be, nor will it likely be, an Investment Club. The type of club you cite is one that buys and sells regulated securities. It is, in effect, a buyer’s co-op for traditional stock and thereby falls under the regulations you cite. There are, however, a number of many centuries old culturally-based traditions for peer-based, family-based, community-based, person-to-person investment and informal banking that can certainly play a role in the MFM business model.

This is not about flying below the Patriot Act’s radar, it’s about extending the reach of person-to-person agreements and exchange. There is no reason that a person-to-person exchange network cannot scale. Remember, the world surely grew to significant scale long before there was institutionalized banking and regulated securities.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment December 8th, 2005

Economic Utility and Depth of Inprosumer Engagement

nmw said:

[snip]… There may be a small problem with this [[’this’ being a reference to the complexity and delayed gratificatiom of inprosumer ’shopping as it can be’]]: Economic “utility” is generally assumed to be non-uniform (in other words, stuff that makes one person happy might not make another person happy — and/or perhaps just not to the same degree)

Hey Norbert,

No problem. Your IQ (Impact Quotient) is subjective, not a uniform scalar/metric.

What we were trying to say is that your NED On-line Profile maintains a persistent ‘log’ (storybook, game-scorecard) as an growing reminder of your activity and accomplishments — your impact — as an engaged ’round-trip’ investor, producer, consumer.

Economic Utility — Is that all there is?

Related to your concern, Norbert, and as expressed by others in prior posts, there is the apprehension that the efficiency of a price- and distribution-optimized market has, by definition, higher economic utility — “I just want to get my stuff and go home.”

Again, no problem. When you are in stuff acquisition mode, you will engage in shopping as it is.

But to a large degree — and it is echoed by the level of activity in this discussion and in Onet itself as in other ‘change the world’ on-line communities — a lot of us are singing Peggy Lee’s song and asking “Is that all there is?”

A Few Words About Depth of Engagement

Please understand that incorporating shopping as it can be (inprosuming) into the NED business model is not a mutually exclusive choice that banishes shopping as it is from the picture. In fact, shopping as it is is both a necessary baseline of sales volume as well as a vital engagement opportunity that feeds new recruits into the ranks of inprosumers (those doing shopping as it can be).

You will see this “A-ha” idea-moment of self-recruitment reflected in a ‘feedback loop’ in our Entrepreneurial Community Ecosystem input/output model. This transformation happens when a ‘Surface Shopper’ takes the next step into active and ongoing participation in the NED community. The inprosumer is a Deep Shopper. By his or her persistent involvement in the community, the Deep Shopper is demonstrating that he or she has found a new level of personally rewarding economic utility that cannot be achieved by continuing to simply do shallow shopping.

Note, too, that this recruitment is not a means of merely cloning producers. The last thing we need is water down the producers’ opportunity by creating a vast army of home-based candlemakers, weavers, beaders, what have you. Rather, we need to entice each Deep Shopper to bring his or her own bottle of secret sauce to the table.

We need to entice Open Source programmers to contribute code to our back-end and eCommerce platform projects. We need to engage sales and marketing people to sell and market. We need multi-linguists to help the community to communicate among its members. We need lawyers and business folk to craft the agreements, licenses, and other instruments needed to create and evolve new forms of dynamic collaborative network enterprises. We also need to engage academic and other researchers to do applied research projects that help us to invent new ways to shop, organize, market, and collaborate. In short, we need a whole range of folks to find their own unique and personal way to participate in NED’s entrepreneurial community ecosystem.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment December 7th, 2005

Creatively Funding MicroAid Subscriptions

Christina (Kirabo the Gift Mom) Jordan said:

Yes, the microaid system is interesting, but it’s too expensive. Last time I looked, the monthly bill was well out of our reach.

Monica Nankoma with her Sohodojo Idea Incubator Come on, Christina… borrow Monica’s Idea Incubator for a few minutes and get those creative juices going. ;-)
The basic MicroAid platform costs little more than a bare-bones web hosting account. Plus, who pays retail these days!? You talk with Toby and work out a mutually rewarding arrangement.

What you are not taking into account is how much work and how long it would take you to create something that could handle the opportunity-presentation, micro-finance, and fine-grained project results tracking that is available with the MicroAid platform.

Keep in mind, too, that it is often the sponsoring/investor group or organization that antes up the service fee, not the recipients/project-manager that pays.

Our mutual buddies at GlobalGiving are sponsoring some of the projects being managed using MicroAid. The PUSPEM Foundation’s use of MicroAid is a prime example. Here’s one of PUSPEM’s projects featured at GlobalGiving. Let’s revive our talk with Dennis Whittle about getting GlobalGiving involved in the Small Is Good World.

The MFM project has to take into account how much time, energy, and money it would cost to design and develop the software that is readily available with a MicroAid subscription. This is not an off-the-shelf or roll-your-own in an afternoon server platform.

With just a bit of creativity and determination, we believe you would find that the expense of a MicroAid subscription would stop being a barrier, and you could move the MFM project ahead at full steam right away.

We’ll ping Toby and see if he can drop by and tell us some of the creative ways folks have found to fund their MicroAid subscriptions.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment December 6th, 2005

The Case for Using the MicroAid ASP Service

Hey Cristina! :-)
At the risk of redundancy (the following is also posted here), we want to encourage you folks to give serious consideration to spawning your Internet platform as an extension of the MicroAid platform. The fine-grained opportunity identification, micro-funding, and detailed results tracking is a non-trivial software development challenge. Not only does MicroAid already have much of what you are looking for, they also have valuable experience with the management and legal challenges of making such an idea work.

Here is our note from the Tiered Investments discussion…

Mark Grimes said:

[snip]… but could not find anyplace where a normal consumer (ala myself) can put small funds in an invesment instrument, and make the world a better place thru microfinance (and educate consumers at the same time).

Small Is Good World Working Group
at the Skoll World Forum
The Small Is Good World Working Group at the Skoll World Forum
(l. to r.) Michael Chertok, Timlynn Babitsky, Toby Beresford, Christina Kirabo Jordan, Jim Salmons, and Pam McLean

Hi Mark,

We have a post under development that ties this topic and the Big Picture NED discussion together. We will post a cross-link to that here soon. In the meantime in response to your comment above, we encourage you to explore partnering with our good buddies, Toby and Richard Beresford and their U.K.-based social enterprise, MicroAid.net. The Beresfords, along with us and Christina, are founding members of the Small Is Good World Working Group which has been pursuing a change insurgency agenda over at Social Edge.

Father Richard is located in Indonesia and has decades of U.N.-based international development experience. Technogeek son Toby is in the U.K. where he is evolving the MicroAid platform as well as working on MicroAid’s a social change strategy by developing community self-support tools for marginalized communities in the U.K.

Micro-projects at PUSPEM.Microaid.net You can get an idea of what we think about the Beresfords and MicroAid in this article, MicroAid - International Aid In the Small Is Good World.

The main MicroAid web site currently focuses on the self-support tools for community organizing. However, MicroAid started as a person-to-person international aid service which is most evident on the example, Pusat Studi Pengembangan Masyarakat - PUSPEM Foundation. Here is an example fundable micro-project, Business Development for Small Canteen in Pasar Manggis. And here is a list of the micro-projects currently under development and seeking support.

Our upcoming post will dig more into the connection between microfinance and NED-style consumerism. As these ideas converge, we’ll invite Toby and Richard into the conversation as they are wonderful people with much to contribute to these topics and to the NED agenda.

–Sohodojo Timlynn and Jim–

Add comment December 3rd, 2005

Introducing the Small Is Good World Working Group

Mark Grimes said:

[snip]… but could not find anyplace where a normal consumer (ala myself) can put small funds in an invesment instrument, and make the world a better place thru microfinance (and educate consumers at the same time).

Small Is Good World Working Group
at the Skoll World Forum
The Small Is Good World Working Group at the Skoll World Forum
(l. to r.) Michael Chertok, Timlynn Babitsky, Toby Beresford, Christina Kirabo Jordan, Jim Salmons, and Pam McLean

Hi Mark,

We have a post under development that ties this topic and the Big Picture NED discussion together. We will post a cross-link to that here soon. In the meantime in response to your comment above, we encourage you to explore partnering with our good buddies, Toby and Richard Beresford and their U.K.-based social enterprise, MicroAid.net. The Beresfords, along with us and Christina, are founding members of the Small Is Good World Working Group which has been pursuing a change insurgency agenda over at Social Edge.

Father Richard is located in Indonesia and has decades of U.N.-based international development experience. Technogeek son Toby is in the U.K. where he is evolving the MicroAid platform as well as working on MicroAid’s a social change strategy by developing community self-support tools for marginalized communities in the U.K.

Micro-projects at PUSPEM.Microaid.net You can get an idea of what we think about the Beresfords and MicroAid in this article, MicroAid - International Aid In the Small Is Good World.

The main MicroAid web site currently focuses on the self-support tools for community organizing. However, MicroAid started as a person-to-person international aid service which is most evident on the example, Pusat Studi Pengembangan Masyarakat - PUSPEM Foundation. Here is an example fundable micro-project, Business Development for Small Canteen in Pasar Manggis. And here is a list of the micro-projects currently under development and seeking support.

Our upcoming post will dig more into the connection between microfinance and NED-style consumerism. As these ideas converge, we’ll invite Toby and Richard into the conversation as they are wonderful people with much to contribute to these topics and to the NED agenda.

–Sohodojo Timlynn and Jim–

Add comment December 3rd, 2005

Suspend Disbelief to Envision Shopping as It Can Be

John Berger said:

Jim and Timlynn, your post is fascinating. I love and agree with your deathtrap 1 ‚?? you have said it way more concisely than I ever could have. I can‚??t understand deathtrap 2, but my failure is because I don‚??t understand what the alternative could be…

Personally, I don‚??t think I have ever purchased something online because I was ‚??engaged‚?Ě…

I am falling into the trap here of assuming my shopping patterns are typical, but I think you would agree that most retailers, even the successful online ones, think the same way…

Hey John and Mark,

Aha! John, your last post shows that you are trying but struggling as you enter the ‘zone’ where you can suspend disbelief and think about ’shopping’ that is not shopping. Congratulations! This struggle is a necessary first step toward envisioning breakthrough innovations necessary for NED’s success. (”Grasshopper,” as David Carradine’s elder would tell him in an old King Fu episode,”Your strength is your weakness, your weakness is your strength.”)

What you described in your ‘use case’ about how/why you shop is a great example of shopping as we know it. Essentially all on-line and real world shopping environments and business models known to date were envisioned and designed with the assumption that the most central element of shopping is finding and acquiring some thing, some stuff, some product that you want and need.

Forget that. For most of us in non-marginalized, non-impoverished circumstances, we probably have nearly all the stuff we need. Sure, there are consumables that we have to shop for repeatedly (food, toilet paper, etc.). And sometimes we have excess capital and want to treat ourselves to a new something or other that will enhance our personal life. For these things, we shop — as in the shopping as we know it way. Price, quality, and service all still, and will, matter.

And yet, while we keep acquiring the stuff that the marketeers tell us we need to be happy, cool, accepted, envied, whatever, there is still a sucking black hole in our lives that says, “Is that all there is? Is this the sum and substance of my life?”

It is shopping as it can be that will speak to and address this void/need/drive in our lives. Imagine a shopping (consumer) experience where the product is incidental to the experience, where the experience/participation itself has intrinsic, fulfilling value. Where the product is the prize in the Cracker Jack box.

Sure, as Mark says in terms of the ’shopper bandwidth’ analogy, NED has to appeal to and serve the ‘thing/product need’ of those who engage in shopping as we know it. But it will be our envisioning and working to explore and create shopping as it can be that will trigger the network effect that puts NED’s impact into the marketing history books.

It is interesting, but understandable. Over the years that we have been exploring these ideas, it is those with the most knowledge and experience in marketing (the strategists of shopping as we know it) who have the hardest time suspending disbelief and imagining shopping as it can be. Yet, once these folks break that tyranny of certainty about know how things are and always will be, we believe these folks will be among our most valuable envisioneers leading the charge to create shoping as it can be.

“Grasshopper, your strength is your weakness. Your weakness is your strength.”

–Sohodojo Timlynn and Jim–

Add comment December 1st, 2005

Deathtrap Presumptions and Small Is Good World eCommerce

We will respond to the interesting points raised in intervening posts, but first we wanted to get part two of our comments out in response to the flurry of posts about bricks and mortar and the challenges of doing on-line retailing.

Do not presume that the myriad of well-funded, well-meaning but failed social purpose business models on the Internet mean that there is not an opportunity for breakthrough innovation on the order of a ‘next eBay‘. It has long been our contention that social purpose eCommerce strategies to date have been woefully uninspired and built on two Deathtrap Presumptions:

  • Deathtrap Presumption 1: Wrapping a product purchase with a benevolent, feel-good social purpose story will tap some latent, socially responsible drive/need in consumers that will create brand preference and loyalty.
  • Deathtrap Presumption 2: Alternative marketplaces can be built using conventional eCommerce ’shopping cart’ software.

The failed on-line social purpose businesses mentioned in prior posts believed too strongly in the myth of the first Deathtrap Presumption. This led them to fall prey to the second Deathtrap Presumption as they expected that they could deliver an engaging on-line shopping experience using existing eCommerce software platforms.

Innovative alternative markets will not just happen. They will be the result of an aggressive, strategic, applied research and development initiative to create a software platform that delivers a compelling, interactive, fun, and need-fulfilling consumer experience.

These breakthrough innovations in market definition and consumer purchase decision dynamics will make NED products purchased necessary, but paradoxically marginalized, within the shopping experience as poker chips are necessary, but not central, to poker.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment December 1st, 2005

The Limits of Bricks and Mortar for Small Is Good Markets

John, Luke, and Mark,

We’ll reply in two parts. In this post we address our concern about too tight a focus on bricks and mortar storefronts. In a second post we’ll address the apprehensions folks have about the challenges of doing NED On-line.

We are not saying that there is no place for bricks and mortar in the NED vision. Rather, physical storefronts need to be a supplemental embodiment of the NED vision rather than its necessary foundation.

We think there is essentially agreement that NED needs to be realized in both bricks and mortar storefronts and as an on-line marketplace/community. We do, however, want to take a moment to make it clear why we want to be sure that the NED vision is not too dependent on a physical storefront strategy.

Although we risk being wrong by presumption as we don’t have explicit knowledge of each of your personal circumstances, it sounds like a number of folks contributing to this thread live in metropolitan areas where physical shopping is readily accessible and full of choices. This is simply not the daily reality for a vast number of folks in the world outside these metro areas.

We spent the last two years in remote northcentral Montana, and last year we relocated to Fairfield, a small (but unusually creative and active) town of less than 10,000 people in rural southeast Iowa. We have a Walmart on the edge of town, and a couple of chain supermarkets. But other than that it’s local merchants that meet our needs. It’s a one or two hour trip to an urban area to get anything close to a major mall, or to find a selection of the retail chain stores that many folks in metro areas take for granted.

This is not a case of better or worse lifestyles. It is just an indication of the range of differences (and therefore the range of opportunities) in which the NED vision is being formed.

Even if wildly successful and the NED network/chain were to grow to many hundreds of storefronts, there is little chance that there will be one in our town or in any of the thousands of rural small towns and distressed urban communities that might want one.

So please do not be overly focused on urban/exurban bricks and mortar as a context for the NED vision. The danger is that this focus could skew the perceived demographic of the NED customer base. And this skew could warp the NED vision into becoming the very thing to which it is trying to be a counterpoint.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment November 30th, 2005

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