Thursday, June 28, 2012

My First ever (draft) Product Brief!!!

  • Today, most societies have an antagonistic relationship with money and work, money is taking place where relationships used to be.
  • I believe that through sports, I can offer the opportunity to build an nonthreatening environment to learn how to create value and improve our communities without depending on money. 
  • Aboriginal Australians can teach us a lot about the art of giving and living without money.
  • It will encourage, rebuild and create strong local interaction and personal relationships through the development of positive club culture.
  • Participants can use it to put ideas, skills and passions to test regardless of their experience by developing ideas for the team using business model canvas and process, thus contributing to build a positive club structure. 
  • Millions of people will give shape to a new economic paradigm by doing something they couldn't do before.
  • It will provide a business-like approach that allows the identification of potential users outside the immediate community.
  • After success with individual participants at the local level, it will expand to other volunteer based organizations. 
  • It will change the current cultural meaning of work (Boring, purposeless and just for money)
  • Millions of organizations will be able to create value and offer their services without the limitations and restrictions of scarce money.

The inspiration:

The biggest pain I recognize is that people would like to do something completely different with their lives but they can't take the risk to discover what that is because their basic needs won't be covered. People can't look at creating the work that brings meaning to their lives because money is always limiting what they can or cannot do. 

If people had a magic wand, they would create a system where every single person has basic needs covered regardless of what they do for their communities. It becomes a right that as a human, you don't have to struggle to get what you need to live with dignity (pay rent, pay bills, nurturing and quality food, access to clean water, air, quality education and health).

The general goal of the product is to allow individuals to be able to explore what they could do in their communities to create and exchange value without the limitation of money (or lack of it). Although there are many problems in our over dependency on money, this product addresses the need for humans to be able to be, express and manifest the best they have to offer. Something that currently is not possible due to the anxiety produced by the fear of not being able to pay for survival. It has those who are unemployed, changing careers, looking for meaningful work, change agents, change makers and volunteer based organizations in mind.

How does the product solve those problems or needs??

Aboriginal Australians had lived without money until the British colonization. It seems to me that money still does not play a key role in their societies and to the extent that it gains territory in their lives, their social links are lost. If we could co-create an environment where on one side they could share their wisdom about non-money-dependent living and on the other we could compile that wisdom in structures of value (business models) and then we take those models to mainstream society, we could offer the opportunity of a non-threatening environment where people can experiment through real life situations at a scale where basic needs are not involved, how value can be created and exchanged without being dependent on money. The social links and relationships required to make this happen may start to emerge in a way that can lead to actually supplying basic needs based on a different kind of economy that we are yet to discover. 

My proposal is to offer the local Aboriginal community with a sport option where I'd offer all the coaching at absolutely no cost. As trainings sessions go on, each individual participant will have the chance to examine what they want the team to become and what is needed, that I'm not offering, to get there. As they identify these gaps, each participant will be able to develop a proposition to present why their concern is important (Gap, why they would embark in the process, Vision of their solution), what they think should be done about it and how (personal business model or resume to the team) and what their level of participation would be (leader, team member, occasional contributor). With the emerging personal canvas, the team would be able to know what's on offer and participants would be able to choose to join proposals at will. No max nor min of participants per proposal. Proposals who do not receive support from other participants can still move forward with one person. Self-organization through open space facilitation will allow the team to develop the proposals that are more needed at the time.

As groups appear and disappear while the team attempts to reach its objective, the team as such may (or may not) start to discover a pattern of what it does for the communities it is involved in. Then, the team will face the opportunity to create an organizational business model based on creation and exchange of true value that does not depend on pricing, but on evident need in order to be exchanged. 

Product Feature List and Benefits

Something new? Better?faster? Cheaper?
New!! Explore how to create a meaningful work for you and those around you without risking your current financial situation.

Introductory presentation: 
  • You'll know everything about the project and will be able to ask as many questions as you like (Why I am doing it (Culture, bringing the best of human beings), coaching philosophy (Bring the best out of your opposition, if that means that we lose the game, you'll know that you played the best you possibly could and you'd rest assured that so did your team. Practice to bring the best out of your opposition by bringing the best out of your team mates and you in every single training session), project draft plan. 
  • Tournament Schedule and brainstorming session will give the team the opportunity to set objectives to pursue in terms of competition and would provide the base for gap detection. (Choose a tournament you'd like to go to, what do you want to get out of that tournament both as an individual and as a team and why, what do we (you as an individual and us as a team) need to do to get there).
Bi-Monthly Business Model Process Presentations: A series of bi-monthly presentations that will take participants into the activities related to each step of the Personal Business Model Generation and Customer Development Process.
  • We will explore how our ideas to improve the team can create value, how to validate them, do research, implement them and manage them based on a very flexible and adaptable business model concept.

Training Sessions: 3 days a week (Mon, Wed, Sat or Sun / Tue, Thu, Sat or Sun /  Mon, Thu, Sat or Sun).

  • Gain knowledge of the game that will let the group identify gaps, problems or deficiencies where things could be done better or should not be done at all. Participants can decide if they want to solve them through the Personal Business Model Generation and Customer Development Process and value creation can be identified and structured. 
  • Develop awareness, game skills, knowledge and exposure. Bring the best of your humanity in every aspect of your life through sport. 
Fort-nightly report accessible to the team:
  • A written physical report handed in every two weeks at training session that would detail the personal experience in working on your ideas. Are you stuck somewhere? What obstacles, both internal and external are you finding on your journey?? What solutions to your obstacles have you tried?? Did they work? Yes/No and why. It will help you explore your personal commitment to be your best. It will feed the team with useful information where we may find common traits and issues. It will help us to know more of you. I'll be able to relate to you more personally rather than just as a coach. I will write a general report back to the team every fort-night with the highlights of the feedbacks. 
Bi-Monthly gatherings.
  • Participants would present to the team the progress they've made in generating their business models and would get feedback to apply in their projects.

What do I want to learn from this experience?

What are the necessary relationships that need to be created to offer value in a non-money-dependent society?? 
What are the or some of the missing elements required to create sustainable communities??
How can we capture traditional and aboriginal wisdom about living (non-money-dependent living) in structures that allow western societies to understand the value created and given in non-monetary-based societies??
How can western society share its value creation concepts with aboriginal or indigenous communities in a non-invasive way that allows conversation and leads to mutual understanding and cohesion?? 

From who?

Aboriginal communities, business model fans and experts, western sharing and gift communities and initiatives, volunteering organizations, volunteers.

I am also quite excited to share my 1st ever personal business canvas!!! It still needs work of course but it is coming together!! I can't tell you how exciting this is!!. Check here to see the canvas.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Greatest Gift to Humanity.

Although I have immensely enjoyed the journey of coming up with a business model, I have also had a consistent feeling of anxiety. After I read Sacred Economics, I started to think about what it means to be able to give. If I want to be part of a gift economy and build a business model that works under these conditions I need to understand deeply what giving means to me and how I've been giving to others in my daily life. In exploring that, I saw how I was denying myself of a peaceful way of living when pursuing this dream. I would try to get work done while my 2 years old son was around wanting to play with me, I would deny time to my husband after we put our son to bed, because I had things to move forwards. And I am not saying that is wrong. If your conditions allow it to be that way that is great, but in my case it wasn't a matter of mutual consent. I was straining my own relationships with my family and myself. I think that in the context of a gift economy, that doesn't make sense at all. How can I expect myself to give to others in the community and, as Charles Einstein suggests, know the needs of my community when I don't even fulfill the needs of my own family, which indicates I don't fulfill my own emotional needs?!? 

To me, the experience of building a business model implied to be able to know the needs of people. In a way I think I nailed it: If people were to have their basic needs covered, they (we) would be doing something very different with their (our) lives. How we would be able to establish a system that would allow us to keep our basic needs covered became part of the value proposition and the gift economy was the environment in which it would evolve. But I was following books' strategies and methodologies that, while I still deeply believe in them, where taking me deeper and deeper into my status of anxiety, many times without knowing what I needed to do next. At some stage one night in front of the computer I stopped and thought: "Why am I doing this to myself?? What am I putting so much stress and pressure for?? And why am I taking my family with me down this hole?!?" And then the most powerful thought I had that let my idling until today: "Regardless of what I do, the world is going to where it needs to go!!" That sentence has taken me to an entire new dimension in my life. One that has much more to do with my spiritual/religious believes than anything else. I haven't been able to keep working on the business model. From that day on, I feel like I am in "The Matrix" and a huge program of spirituality is being downloaded and I needed to stop the doing-stage. 

Also, Charles argues that the foundation of the problems in our societies today, lies in the sense of separation from one another and everything we see around us. I immediately felt connected with these words, I have been feeling that for too long and had never found anybody who would relate it to the topic of economics. The sense of separation is one that connects with my own experience of spirituality, which has been framed in Christianity. And this insight, or seeing my thought expressed in Charles' book has propelled me to explore more of my own understanding of Christianity and the role it plays in my life. It is unfortunate that I might be turning off some people by acknowledging this, but I can assure you that I'll be turning off more Christians once I start sharing my thoughts on Christianity. Surprisingly enough, having left Catholicism many many years ago, I found someone who being a Trappist monk would agree with Charles almost completely and adds that "unless this radical problem is addressed, societies, which are made up of a bunch of false (apparently separate) selves, is not gonna do to well. And that is why to take a determination not to contribute to the messiness of the world by adding our own false self projects to it is one of the greatest gifts you can give to humanity, and if enough people do this then society will be transformed and without it I don't think it can be" (emphasis and comments added). 

Although I truly believe that I nailed the problem, I am also unsure as to whether the solution I am offering is not one of many of my false-self's projects. In a way, it feels like it is and that is why I have to go deeper and start from that place. Every time I have said that this project has moved forwards, I realized now that what I meant is that I have been moving inwards, which is probably more important or more essential than moving forwards. I nailed a problem, but this problem is not real in the sense that it has been created by our false selves, our false sense of separation from anything and everything, by our selfish and lost selves and accumulated through many generations of selfishness, which is not who we really are. I also think that the problem I have found is at the bottom of the spectrum of the false self. We can't go any further down or any lower than this. Think about it, we have reached a point where we think that people have to "earn" and "deserve" the right to live!! If we want food, clean water, clean air and live in harmony with the rest of humanity and the rest of life itself, we have to "earn" it and "deserve" it, which is, we have to enslave ourselves to do something we find absolutely purposeless to create false value in our societies and be able to survive, as if we could!!. Once life is conceived and a baby is born, they have to learn how to 'earn and deserve' their spot in the world. Being alive is not enough of a fact to deserve the entitlements that life brings with it (nurturing food, harmony in and with nature, the safest and  greatest of the inventions of the human heart). What can be more dysfunctional than that?? 

Any solution or set of solutions to this ultimate reality created by the false self, has to come from the true self and to do that, we have to discover who we really are so that we can act from there. Any solution that would ensure your basic needs are covered regardless of who you are and what you do, the same way a baby's needs are covered by its parents regardless of how many poos they do, or how many nights they leave their parents sleep deprived, requires the one and only real form of love which is unconditional, and that love only comes from who we really are because that is what's in us ever since we are born. From my perspective, a solution from a true self involves being able  to love anybody regardless of their acts, involves being able to see the madness, absorb it, forgive it and transform it, it implies to be able to give ourselves completely to whatever the situation is that appears in our lives, even if we decide not to be involved in that situation, the decision is made from our whole selves. In a gift economy we don't give ourselves selectively and conditionally, we can decide not to give, but the decision is made from the same place of unconditional love to the situation and when when we do give, it is wholly...or I should say holy. We want to help the world and be to others what we struggle to be to our own families and in turn, to ourselves. "Being the change we want to see in the world" is a huge task and it starts internally by helping and forgiving oneself first. We are activist for the health of the environment and we struggle to look after our own health. we want to be gentle to others and we are harsh to our own minds with a draining self talk. And I'm not saying this is wrong, I am only stating my observation of my own life and concluding that I want to love myself so that I can love others. I can't fill up others' love tank if mine is empty. I don't believe that there is only one way to get to know who we are, but I find in my own understanding of God and Jesus Christ, a message that rings true.

I think it is time for Love: The Verb to come to live and share many of the conclusions and insights I've had lately. I don't know what will happen from now on but it is very likely that future writings will come through that blog. I want to offer this space, New Economics for Humanity, to anyone who wants to share their journey in learning and building the new cultural/economic story. I've been using it as the space where I unload my brain and heart and it has been an absolutely beautiful has taken me where I am and I think I am at a very good stage right now. I want to offer that opportunity to anybody who feels like it. You can write your own experience of your own project here as a contributor to the blog. I am not sure how blogger contributions work but just in case, every entry you make would have a tag with your name plus any additional tags you choose so that people know your work. Contact me if you're interested.

Last but not least, here is the 15 min video of Father Thomas Keating, the trappist monk I mentioned before. I wrote part of his explanation below in the hope that it will invite you to actually watch the video.  It is a conversation with an former alcoholic who gives a scientific perspective to the topic from the field of psychology. Comments are welcome.

"The separate self the basic source of every human problem...because is the separate self sense that deposes reality...and which creates our own self and ultimately our own on one hand you have this basic oneness of everything that is in its source, and the basic issue of separating ourselves from that oneness which then means we are separating ourselves from our true selves and from everybody else and from the cosmos in the various degrees in which we sin, meaning we miss the mark. To miss the mark is to fail to recognize the truth of a situation. So the separate self sense is what all the religions are trying to cure, as far as I can see.
...Happiness is confused with the gratification of the instinctual instincts of a child (security, power and control, affection, esteem and approval) and these grow into the false self and the ego and so you come to adulthood with this baggage of possessive attitudes towards yourself and the world and other people. That can't possibly work in an adult life, but unfortunately you have to live with 6 billion other people who have the same problem, so it's no wonder there is social problems!! Because unless this radical problem is addressed, societies, which are made up of a bunch of false selves, is not gonna do too well. And that is why to take a determination not to contribute to the messiness of the world by adding our own false self projects to it is one of the greatest gifts you can give to humanity, and if enough people do this then society will be transformed and without it I don't think it can be. That's why religion, whatever its forms the only foreseeable path that leads most people to the experience of God...other things can...but the holistic and concentrated ways that religion addresses the human problem are unmatched but they also have to be gradually transcended not by rejection but by taking the steps in which we relate to God more and more maturely as we grow as human beings into adulthood and love is certainly very crucial in motivating us to do so. 
The dramas that we couldn't face as children (including religious dramas)...are still lingering there...cheerfully reinforcing the separate self sense and the ego and its projects which are oppose to contemplation. But the problem is that contemplation by itself is not opens the unconscious in a way that is a contribution to this process but we also have to embrace daily life and to bring to it this sense of responsibility to the transformative process in which we are prepared to see our mixed motivation...and this is what retards the process and instead of being able to complete it in 4 years, it may take 20, 30 or 40 or never!! The central issue and the complementary movement towards divine love is growth in humility, which is the acceptance of the reality of ourselves, our own weaknesses, limitations or as AA put it, our unmanageable lives, and contemplative prayer will bring you to the same stage of feeling that your life as you are living it is unmanageable. So that is a triumph not a disaster and it happens through Contemplative Prayer without the inconveniences of being an alcoholic (laughter). It's a more humane procedure (laughter)."

 (emphasis and comment added)