Gardening

I believe there is a hierarchy to collaboration. Actually, collaboration is the wrong word, maybe I simply mean community. Community is not just place like a neighborhood. 

This is a personal statement of commitment.

I have lost my community and I want it back. 

I believe there is a hierarchy to community. it goes like this:

  1. Commitment - Declare your membership
  2. Partnership - Show up, do work, realize value
  3. Openness -  Vulnerability
  4. Emergence - The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

I wrote about this a while ago but I didn't understand it very well. I was writing about community (collaboration) as if it were something that some one else should do. 

I am committing to gardening - to being a gardener - to being in a community of gardeners. It feels both metaphorically and actually right. It is winter. The soil is dried out, likely has no nutrients and is badly in need of conditioning. That's where I will start.

I started talking to some gardeners on Facebook yesterday so I think I know how to start. Thank you Dave, Felix, Scott, Martha, Elizabeth, Sara, and Nate. I appreciate the help.

Good Business Vs. Bad Business

Good Business Vs. Bad Business

The Social Capital Markets movement has done some excellent work trying to understand exactly what ‘good’ is in the context of business but I don’t mean this post to be a review of that process. What I would like to discuss is the purpose for quantifying the good that is produced by a social enterprise. Good, or it’s more formal synonym — social impact — resides in the lives of a business’ customers. For a social enterprise, understanding if you are creating social impact is the same as understanding if you are successful. The reason to measure social impact is to see if you are solving the problem that your business was created to solve.

Wendell Berry: It All Turns on Affection

Wendell Berry: It All Turns on Affection

In 2012 Wendell Berry gave the Jefferson Lecture to the National Endowment of the Hummanities. I ran across this recently through pure serendipity. In this lecture he says many Brilliant things including the distinction between Boomers - those who relentlessly go wherever they can to achieve wealth - and Stickers - those who stay put for the love of place and community.  Essentially, what he has written is the very best and most beautiful argument for "local" business.

A New Capitalism (p2): Transactions

MARKETS ARE CONVERSATIONS: In 1999, Chris LockeDoc SearlsDavid Weinberger and Rick Levine wrote the brilliant Cluetrain Manifesto in which they argued 95 theses the preeminant of which was "Markets are conversations".  They went on to describe the nature of these conversations and how they are inherently human and, because of the disruptive nature of the Internet, these conversations cannot be controlled - and that is a good thing.

A New Capitalism (p1): The Platform

Volatile, inequitable and corrupt are all accurate descriptions of Capitalism as it exists today. Most people agree that the system is to some degree broken. However, I believe that Capitalism, or market based economics, is the best possible engine but we need to make some fundamental changes to ensure that our economy serves us all. Because any substantive change will challenge the current economic winners who benefit from our reductionist, profit maximizingeconomy, this shift can only be successful as a disruptive innovation - a fundamental change in the structure of our economy that will happen because it makes sense and because it is a better way to equitably and sustainably exchange value. This should not need to be a revolution. This should be simply be a correction brought about by free market activity.

The Blockchain and Inherently Equitable Markets

The Blockchain and Inherently Equitable Markets

In the late 1990's I was beginning my teaching career. It was the very beginning of the technology revolution. The California State University system gave all teachers a free personal email account which we accessed via a dialup modem and the glorious Pine email client: text on a monochrome monitor. These were the early days of network computing - the Internet before hyperlinks and pictures. There was a clear sense back then that you were on a computer that was connected to another computer far away and to get more or different information you had to connect to a different computer that was located somewhere else. For me, this was magic - magic in a way that it is probably hard for a digital native to understand. 

Social Enterprise: Time to Take Ourselves Seriously

Social Enterprise: Time to Take Ourselves Seriously

Social enterprise is mature. By that I mean social enterprises have demonstrated they can sustainably provide unique value to their customers. Market infrastructure has enabled this value to be provided sustainably; i.e. it can be provided continuously over time. However, while mature, social enterprise is not yet successful because success entails solving the world’s most intractable problems. In this post I will try to pull together several threads and suggest a way to increase the likelihood of success for social enterprise and, in turn, success for humanity. (Because that’s why we are doing this work, right?)

The Tactics of Collaboration

The Tactics of Collaboration

Understanding the tactics of collaboration can help make the unique value of working well together real. It’s important because the whole—all of us, humanity—can be greater than the sum of our parts. We often discuss collaboration in terms of its relationship to competition; competition, at its best, can make each part more valuable and more effective, but collaboration adds value to the whole by focusing on how the parts work together.

Social Enterprise is a Disruptive Innovation

Social Enterprise is a Disruptive Innovation

A social enterprise is a business that uses the market to solve a social problem. Far too much is made of this elusive adjective - "social". There are two ways to think about why we created social enterprise. The first is to understand social enterprise as a re-purposing of business to achieve a non-business goal. The second, and more compelling, is to understand social enterprise as a disruptive innovation that addresses the failure of financial enterprise – the failure to provide value beyond profit. I am a Capitalist because I believe the market is the only engine available that can power the change we need; however, the market has also been at the center of creating the problems we need to solve. This is why I see social enterprise as a disruptive innovation focused on providing value beyond profit and illuminating the abuses of its predecessor - financial enterprise.

Knowledge Management or What's a Website For?

I have done a lot of work in my career at the intersection of technology and social change. While I have never focused specifically on web development I have built many websites and most of them poorly. It has only been recently that I have been able to embrace the idea that less is more. So, I thought I would write out a quick post to describe what I see as the four types of websites that are differentiated by the goals that they serve. The first two are content sites and the second two are community sites. In reality, a real site may have aspects of all four.

SOCAP Keynote 2013: Love and Money

Steve Wright is the VP of Poverty Tools and Insights which includes two teams: the Social Performance Management Center which builds and supports the Progress out of Poverty Index® (http://www.progressoutofpoverty.org) and Inclusive Business Tools which builds and supports TaroWorks© (http://www.taroworks.org). Prior to joining Grameen Foundation, Steve was 10 yrs as the Director of Innovation and Technology at the Salesforce Foundation.

Can Financial Markets be 'Good'?

In the Impact Investing industry we have been agreeing-to-disagree for a while now. The debate tends to take the form of investment priorities: financial-first vs. impact-first. Do you prioritize financial impact or do you prioritize social impact? I will argue that this debate is irrelevant and is an example of what Jed Emerson calls bifurcated thinking.

Social vs. Financial

Current definitions of social enterprise are based on how social enterprises are like financial enterprises except they are required to create good in addition to revenue. Financial enterprises are those enterprises that are not required to create good. They are only required to create revenue; therefore, it is of course possible that they create bad. Bad is created by a financial enterprise either by design or it is a negative externality meaning it is a consequence of the work but not an intended output. The cost of these negative externalities are largely borne by indirect stakeholders. A great example of this is the 2008 economic devastation wrought by treating housing as a speculative commodity. While a tremendous amount of money was made (and lost) in the financial enterprises engaged in this market, there was a negative externality experienced by homeowners who lost massive amounts of value in their homes and in many cases lost their actual homes. (It is worth saying that: 1) financial enterprises that create bad are… well… bad, and 2) some financial enterprises do not create bad.)

Social Enterprise, A Disruptive Innovation

In 2010 SKS Microfinance went public with great excitement from the financial markets and a hail of criticism from some in the industry. The criticism centered around the idea that profit is NOT a proxy for success and an aggressive focus on growth is bad for the poor. SKS disagreed.  The following is from a Forbes article about a debate between Vikram Akula, founder of SKS Microfinance and Mohammed Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in 2010.

Manage What Matters

All social enterprises want to know if they are producing positive social outcomes.  They closely monitor their financial performance to maintain sustainability and closely monitor their social performance to see if they are achieving their mission of doing good.  This blog focuses on the questions “Am I any good?” and “What is the good I am producing?”