Thursday, April 14, 2011

Advancing the PSP and BMG for Community Organizations Merge

We are exploring the merge of the BMG (Business Model Generation) process with PSP (Project Support Project). PSP basically plays the role of inspiration and catalyst for transition projects with no hierarchical approach, which is basically what I was proposing with workshops to support peoples passions within the transition community using the BMG process. 

From The Art of Placemaking I, we learned "pick the low hanging fruit NOW!" which is, get your idea and take a small step now, that will get you there. So with that in mind I came up with this:

The PSP/BMG for Community Organizations project is the big business tree. It occurs to me that if we want to be able to support others' projects through BMG, we need to make sure we can support our own personal projects in the same fashion. So, in the stage we're at, where we are only a few contributors with individual ideas to apply in our own locality, it makes total sense to me that we engage in using BMG/Customer development/Agile product development in our own projects as part of the germinating tree that is emerging from a seed. 

Each little tree represents a project/passion that will be supporting and supported by the big tree. With time, the big tree will develop its trunk, rings, cracks, fruits, leaves and the whole tree ecology. Each project may eventually specialize in a particular function within the big business tree. Some, for example, will become the fruits, that will either be picked by others as achievements, and some others will fall and become nutrients to the soil and their seeds will become new trees, using the information of what worked and what didn't. 

The business tree adapts to its environment; too much sun, not enough water, too much wind, too many leaves and so on, means that it will need to be pruned every now and then, some leaves and fruits will fall. That is, some projects will disappear but others will enter a new stage and adapt, potentially changing their specialization. Whatever affects the big tree, implies a change in the little ones that make it.

I don't want to go to deep into this kind of pseudo-fractal representation that I have in mind because I don't have the details, they will emerge. What type of tree, what sort of environment and ecosystem we'll be living in as individual projects and as the business tree, is something I feel we need to discover/create. I am not quite sure what type of seed I am, so to speak. But I know I am germinating.

The big business tree, and therefore, the individual ones it is made of, involve a very complex flow of information. I am not attempting to describe it here, but I can sense it: How each project will interact with each other, with the whole community of business and their creators, the flow of value within the system and maybe, the flow of money, whether complementary or official.  I think that will be key. 

I'd say there are things that make our big tree of one species and not of other. For instance, our businesses believe in localization, we geographically belong to the communities our passions want to serve, we'll create and transform organizations that will be embedded in the physical area and that foster civic engagement within the space. Our individual trees (projects) make up the big tree. So whether each current team member is a germinating seed in their own soil, or whether we'll be part of the same tree, I don't know. But we are definitely linked in one way or another. 

This is what I see we can start working on now to learn and test the BMG process. Each of the team members have expressed to have particular interests and skills. Imagine you want to establish your own business - What would it be?? Take into account the above [business tree] considerations.

The Business Model Generation for Community Organizations project, which will probably have to change name because it is becoming a bit confusing, in general terms is in stage 1 (assembling the team, establishing objectives, initial canvas and creating a plan). If we all follow the BMG process for our own projects simultaneously with the BMG for the main project, then we'll be able to identify key issues and opportunities in each stage that may potentially apply for it (the main project: business tree/PSP/BMG for community org).  We would also be able to identify some patterns and structures and we would get to learn through practice something about what is involved in supporting others' projects and passions by using BMG approach. As I write I am thinking that the product to deliver our collective value proposition may evolve into a social platform where people can go and access others' experiences of the process at each stage, rather than a workshop where it is harder to follow up people's processes...but who knows, that's a bit further down the track.

I propose to organize workstreams in BetterMeans as follows. BM stands for Business Model:

For two of the team members who are located in Brisbane, we said that there is an opportunity to choose Transition Kurilpa (TK) as the transition initiative that would be considered as the Project Support Group. But in the way I see that these ideas are evolving, it seems to me that TK may play a different role and possibly in the future, not right now. Maybe as the first transition community in Brisbane to will make use of the 'product' we develop...a 'pilot community'?? Otherwise, how can we integrate TK now?? Ideas welcome of course.

Key activities I foresee, at least for stage 1 are:

1. Develop a code to name the individual project workstreams to make it easy for visitors.
2. Develop documentation standards, as in: Where are we expecting team members profiles?? In a wiki of the NEH's workstream or in their own individual workstream?, minimun details that should be included in the individual project's description.
3. Brainstorm and discuss about if and how to get support from key people like the books' authors and Creative Communities. (Books: Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and ChallengersThe Four Steps to the Epiphany, Creative Communities delivers the Art of Placemaking and Creating Resilient Cities workshops). 

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