Posts filed under 'NED - Philanthropic Franchise'

Square Pegs and Round Holes

Mark Grimes said:

The other side of this is working with 1,000 global co-ops each with 25 artisans making one different thing each sounds like a merchandising nightmare…to me. That might all do well on Ebay, but it seems like from the outset to incorporate limited resource items into and online and nascent real world chain of stores could be very problematic.

The answer here may not be so clear-cut, especially in the context of the Square Pegs and Round Holes Dilemma. If the idea is to leverage off-the-shelf supply chain software infrastructure (whether physical retail or eCommerce), then this might very well be a nightmare. But if a design-point of the business model is to tap previously untapped consumer dynamics and small producer supply characteristics, then the issue is more a matter of developing system requirements (the round hole) and whittling (extending) a software platform (square peg) to fit it.

This may be more work than going with a canned solution, but if this difference is essential to the business model/brand differentiation strategy, then it is essential to do early and effectively. When it comes to selecting a core system platform, this is an early “make or break” (as opposed to “make or buy”) decision.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 25th, 2006

Toto… We’re not in Kansas (Kampala or Kanpur) anymore!

Following the Yellow Brick Road, courtesy of MPTV.net Dorothy uttered these now famous words, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. She and her pet dog were swept up in the whirlwind of a tornado that magically transported them to the imaginary Utopian world of Oz.

Were Dorothy to comment on the emerging cyclonic world that Tom Friedman characterizes as Globalization 3.0 in The World Is Flat, she might have included the other lo-K-tions in this post’s title. In the emerging world of globally connected, Empowered Individuals, geographic location is no longer the overwhelming determiner of opportunity and quality of life that it has been throughout history.

We’re making this point in response to comments by Jeff Mowatt and Wendy Kelly in the ned: philanthropic franchise conversation on Omidyar.net:

Jeff Mowatt said (our emphasis [context] added):

…I’m trying to ascertain whether NED [Networked Enterprise Development] aims to achieve this [financial and market sustainability] externally by virtue of being a franchised version of something like an OXFAM shop, offering fair trade goods from developing countries to Western markets and thereby opening markets for micro-enterprises in the developing world. [snip]

On the other hand, could this franchise be deployable in developing world locations on the ground? In this way engaging local people to produce competitively with a free market system and earn at least a living wage, at the same time setting aside funds committed to development of new enterprises.

The former would in my mind be sustained philanthropy and the latter sustained self-determination. Is NED both of these things?

Along similar lines, Wendy Kelly said (our emphasis [context] added):

I am in Nelson BC (shangrila [British Columbia, Canada]) we are the perfect size (10,000) progressive small town. Small Walmart, but vibrant downtown. TONS of fair trade here. Our own coffee (organic, fair trade, excellent) [snip]

Thoughts are that it is necessary; we should be careful about expecting people to buy stuff just because they should (mentioned above); also, do we need to go overseas? Could we not buy and sell small town local stuff at NED? [snip…] if we are there to connect small communities, wouldn’t it be more on target to sell stuff made by other small towns (or small city neighbourhoods) that don’t have access to large exposure?

All good to have the African/Asian, etc stuff as well, but just thinkging that there are tons of local artists here (and in other artsy small towns) that could benefit from having the exposure of NED. As David Suzuki said, it’s time to think local, act local.

Jeff and Wendy, as we have replied before within the Ned conversation, these are all excellent and timely questions. They are, in fact, profound questions when taken in light of the emergence of Globalization 3.0. (See this recent post for Flat World globalization era context.)

When Nations and Corporations Become Background Noise

As the world flattens throughout the emerging era of Globalization 3.0, nations and multinational corporations increasingly become background noise. This is not to say that nations and giant corporations are not powerful and influential anymore. Rather, and this is a vital undercurrent message in Friedman’s book, today’s ICT (Information, Communication, and Transportation) technologies empower the Individual to imagine and then realize his or her own place in the world.

And, thanks to these ICT technologies, our Individual place in the world is no longer strictly bounded by geography nor by the organizations with which we are affiliated.

To say that Globalization 3.0 is the era of the Empowered Individual is not glib hyperbole. This is a challenge to revolutionize the way each of us looks at and behaves in the world.

Paradigm Shift: From Developing Nations to Developing Individuals

The World Is Flat in a Nutshell Globalization 1.0 and 2.0 were about developed countries and developing countries. International aid was about exchange between nations and insurgency (benevolent and otherwise) by multinational corporations as they set up and/or moved their operations for market access and economic advantage.

Globalization 3.0 is about developed individuals and developing individuals.

In Globalization 1.0 and 2.0, developing countries struggled to overcome the devastating impact of being marginalized. That is, they struggled to overcome the impact of being denied access and participation in the world’s political and economic systems.

During Globalization 3.0, our challenge as Individuals is to work our way out of, or to work to keep from becoming, marginalized as Individuals. In the 21st century, there are hundreds of millions of marginalized Individuals. These masses are struggling in New York just as sure are they are struggling in New Delhi. You’ll find them in rural Kansas just as sure as you will find them in urbanized Kampala.

Sure, there has always been poverty everywhere. But marginalization in the era of Globalization 3.0 is not a unidimensional, socioeconomic phenomena that can be reduced to a matter of money. Marginalization in Globalization 3.0 will have many faces and many battlefronts. It is as likely to be found in the home of a forced-retirement IT worker in suburban Minneapolis as it is to be found in a hut in a rural village of Banda Aceh. It will be found in the farmhouses of rural Iowa as well as in the urban ghettos of Rio de Janeiro.

The reality for each of us is this: In the hyper-competitive world of Globalization 3.0, nation-states and giant corporations are going to have their hands full just taking care of themselves and their already enfranchised citizenry and customers. We will have a very long wait if we expect our lives as Empowered Individuals to be handed to us on silver platters from the governments where we live, or from the corporations from which we buy things or where we work.

The Globalization 3.0 Challenge: Wealthshifting from the Big Three

Becoming an Empowered Individual in the Flat World of Globalization 3.0 is exciting and, let’s be honest, a bit scary. It can be scary to know that we are quite literally on our own. But paradoxically, what makes our Globalization 3.0 lives scary is what makes them exciting as well.

As Empowered Individuals of Globalization 3.0, we all share the same fundamental goal. Our shared goal is to shift wealth from the Big Three to the rest of us. The Big Three are nation-states, multinational corporations, and the world’s wealthiest individuals who have more money than most of us can imagine.

Our means to achieving this shift of wealth is not through violent revolution nor any other form of replacing an existing One Right Way with yet another, different One Right Way.

Our means to empowering Individuals in the Globalization 3.0 world will be to envision alternatives in how we organize to do work and create economic and social value, and in how we envision and create markets. Nothing short of a revolutionary alternative — an alternative, not a replacement — of our understanding of, and strategies for, investment, production, and consumption will achieve the scale of social and economic change that is possible in the Globalization 3.0 era.

When enough of us make this shift in how we think about ourselves and how we think about our world and the power of our place in it, the full potential of Globalization 3.0 will begin to be realized. The cyclone of change of Globalization 3.0 will pluck each of us from our homes in Kansas, Kampala, and Kanpur and we will find ourselves networked, hand-in-hand, in the Flat World of Empowered Individuals.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 9th, 2006

Are You Experienced?

John Berger said (our emphasis added):

[snip] But is it reasonable or creditworthy to set up an e-commerce model without significant marketing or other component (ned) that will drive people to the site?

Do you have any idea how many billions of dollars have been spent on ecommerce sites that never worked. [snip] Basically she did everything right absent being able to spend a lot of money on marketing. End result ?? she is lucky to get a handful of sales every month.

E-commerce sites only seem like they are cheap to set up, but they need a ton of capital, luck, or a really unique product to succeed.

This is why ned could be really cool. A distribution platform that people go into for a core product and experience but which can be used to market products at a lower cost. Perhaps the sneaker-net beats the internet?

The World Is Flat in a Nutshell Absolutely, John! And we detect a growing Globalization 3.0 Small Is Good World insight creeping into your thoughtful contributions. Your comments above and the recent lively thread of discussion relevant to the financial implications for Ned partnering and distribution strategy further support our point most recently addressed in this reply to Mark. We were responding to Mark’s concern that ‘reinventing consumerism’ might be too limiting a vision for Ned. In our reply we noted that Ned would be both “the obvious plus something more,” and that this meant Ned needs to ultimately differentiate itself on an “unstuff (non-product) dimension” of the emerging Globalization 3.0 Flat World.

In the Big Is Good World of Globalization 2.0, price-sensitive market/brand differentiation was pretty much tied to offering options based on perceived quality and/or service and/or support.

Globalization 3.0’s emerging Flat World of Empowered Networked Individuals creates a new, truly revolutionary opportunity to reinvent consumerism — that is, to shift (some, not all) consumer/market dynamics from a stuff/product focus to an experience/community focus.

A screenshot of Fast Company's cover story issue, Your Job Is Change Using distribution partnerships, such as TTV and WoG channels, is a form of change insurgency strategy that is not just good business but a necessary extension of the recruitment network needed to expose folks to Ned’s secret sauce — that is, as John referred to it above, Ned’s experience, its community/commerce-platform that will distinguish it in the marketplace now and, more importantly, into the future.

As you read or reread Tom Friedman’s The World Is Flat, notice how frequently he keeps reminding us that flattening is an ongoing process. As flat as the world is now, it will become hyper-flat in the years ahead. Using a diversified distribution and partnering strategy is how Ned rides the ebbing wave of Globalization 2.0. Having a radically innovative vision to be the first-mover in an experience-based, “unstuff”, inprosuming, Globalization 3.0 marketplace… this is what will ultimately leverage Ned into being the Next Big Thing.

In this context, it is not so much that sneaker-net beats the internet as it is that in the ever-flattening Flat World, Globalization 3.0 nets (AKA network marketplaces) will sustainably compete with (and in time on their own terms, beat) Globalization 2.0 nets.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 6th, 2006

Reinventing Consumerism: No One Right Way

Mark Grimes said (our emphasis added):

Jim and Timlynn…I dig the new blog, very cool. WRT to reinventing consumerism, while I agree personally, I also think there needs to include all levels of engagement. Some people just want their coffee for the day, and that’s okay too.

Absolutely agreed. Reinventing does not mean replacing. We don’t want to throw out the old One Right Way for a new One Right Way. It’s about alternatives and choice. There are certainly both deep and surface shoppers in our vision of the Flat World’s expanded marketplace of Globalization 3.0.

What will ‘hook’ the surface shopper is the “gravity” of the underlying deep shoppers’ experience-based community. These surface-folks will be thinking, “Hey, there’s something different and interesting going on here,” and “I may just grab a cuppa joe today, but I know I feel good about being even a small part of what is going on here.” Over time some non-trivial number of surface folks will dive deeper.

If we don’t shoot for something radically innovative and seductively compelling, Ned could end up being just another exercise in stretching the do-good/feel-good strategy of traditional retailing and marketing. “Fair trade” is fast becoming just two ubiquitous words on packaging akin to “New, Improved.”

This doesn’t mean that you have to bet the Ned farm on an “all or nothing” innovation strategy. But it does mean that you have to have a deep and compelling mission/vision from the start. That mission has to set the bar very high for what will be the Next Big Thing. Being just a tweak on 10,000 Villages or OXFAM isn’t good enough.

The Hungry Consumer isn’t yearning to fill him or herself with yet more stuff. They want something that the Big Is Good World hasn’t delivered and isn’t capable of producing.

Ned will be wildly successful to the extent that it deeply understands and delivers the “unstuff” dimension of the Globalization 3.0 marketplace of empowered Individuals.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 4th, 2006

On Christina’s new Craft production conversation

Mark Grimes said:

Okay, had a very long 3+ hour FTF meeting this AM (and one hour phone meeting last night) that dealt in some very concrete ways with what you’re both talking about here…will write more and drop in here ASAP…this is all very relevant to Ned.

Hey Mark, Christina, Jeff,

We’ll be ruminating and posting to Christina’s latest Craft production discussion very soon. In the meantime, we’d like to bring your attention to this piece, What Tom Sawyer Knew, our recent contribution to the MicroFinance Marketplace conversation.

Christina’s new discussion and the cluster of recent comments here are all related to Sohodojo’s interest in the reinvention of consumerism to what we’ve called inprosumerism, that is, the experience-based involvement of the empowered Individual to participate in the full cycle of investment, production and consumption rather than being a bottomless sucking ashcan at the end of a product-pushing supply chain.

Here’s a link to our ONet blog’s Inprosumer category page where the individual blog posts contain links back to their source ONet conversations (most of which are Ned-related).

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Add comment January 4th, 2006

Happy New Year to Ned!

A screenshot of Sohodojo's Omidyar.net blog Happy New Year to All!

We see the Ned posts are starting to fly fast and furious! It was almost too quiet around here for a while. :-)
During the brief lull in the conversations, we took the opportunity to create Sohodojo’s Omidyar.net Blog using the recently released WordPress 2.0 blogging platform.

It was an interesting and insightful experience. As we populated this blog and categorized our posts, we were struck by how useful it might be to look at ONet post blogging as a means to help organize and provide perspective on the growing mountain of ONet content.

In particular, multiple blogs ’slicing and dicing’, and commenting on the Ned thread might be a decentralized and distributed way to get at the huge task that our Ned-faithful ‘best of’ indexers have taken on. We ruminate on this and related ideas in our personal news post, Blogging ONet For Focus (which you will find cross-posted on our blog here).

Comments and questions welcome (although it would probably be best to post non-Ned specific comments on the article itself).

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

1 comment January 3rd, 2006

Entrepreneurial Community Ecosystem Presentation Published

For those interested in additional information on entrepreneurial community ecosystems, please see this news item announcing our participation and presentation at the Community Capitals Framework: Research, Evaluation, Practice Workshop, hosted by North Central Regional Center for Rural Development at Iowa State University. You’ll find links to our presentation in both HTML and PDF formats. Comments welcom, and especially inquiries with ideas about collaborative projects.

Add comment December 9th, 2005

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

The Origin of (the Nanocorp) Species and Ecosystem Patterns

Mark Bruns said:

[snip]…Low set-up costs/times actually make it possible to produce a much wider array of products with the same resources … of course, low set-up costs/times don’t magically appear … getting there involves a serious, diligent effort.

If we seek to manufacture [or franchise] economic opportunities, we will need to reduce the “set-up costs” or barriers to entry for a better population of small business ventures … better should mean wider diversity in terms of presentation, identity, creativity of the founder … but there is no reason why mechanics of formation and business operation can’t be standardizedclonable nano-enterprise biz-plan plus web-apps with fully debugged baseline mgmt functionality that can be gestated into microenterprises and small businesses as the nano-collaborations grow by succeeding.

Of course, we should also work at eliminating as many failure modes as necessary for these nano-ventures [snip]…

Absolutely, right on, Mark! By your references to nano- ideas (not to mention the nice note and feedback points you sent us), we can tell that you visited Sohodojo for some thought-food.

The Origin of (the Nanocorp) Species

BTW Mark, you might be interested to know that the word we coined, nanocorp, appeared in the New York Times in 1999, and was later selected as one of nineteen words that make up the vocabulary of (Dan Pink’s) Free Agent Nation (2001).

We chose the word nanocorp rather than the already established term microenterprise for some very specific reasons. First, micro-, as used in microenterprise and microfinance, had/has some widely accepted connotations with which we were not comfortable. First, microenterprises were all about very small, but traditional, mostly local business, what is often called a ‘Mom and Pop Shop’. And microfinance, so many years ago, was all about tiny loans to these microenterprises, mostly in locations of extreme poverty and especially in remote so-called developing countries.

But what we were and remain interested in — what we generally refer to in a Big Picture sense as Small Is Good World — is both smaller and larger than traditional microenterprise. The nanocorp idea is ’smaller’ in the sense that the smallest possible business is the solo entrepreneur, the solo free agent, the ‘business of me’ or the ‘business of us’ being the working family (as in bonds that go deeper and persist longer than business relations). The nanocorp idea is ‘larger’ in the sense that we are working on decentralized and distributed networks of these elementary building blocks, networks of nanocorps. Today, we call these networks entrepreneurial community ecosystems.

Ecosystem Patterns

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!)

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Strong

A few final comments, Mark, on the value and impact of failure. First, you are absolutely correct that standardized infrastructure and an effective peer community can help reduce the number and severity of failures.

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.

There is also an 80/20 Rule that comes into play when there is a standardized infrastructure (AKA Internet-based software platform) among the growing marketplace of decentralized and distributed small business networks. Once you know how to participate in one, you know most (80%) of what you need to know to cross-train for participation in another such business network. You either bring certifiable general skills to the new business. What you don’t know you learn by negotiating an apprentice relationship within the new network thereby expanding the skills in your entrepreneurial toolkit as well as expanding the network of your portfolio of socioeconomic interpersonal relations.

Great post, Mark, and welcome to the NEDversation! :-)
–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

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