Sunday, March 28, 2010

Collaborator backgrounds in the shaping of ideas

As I set out to build the evolutionize it core business models, my thinking is influenced quite a lot by the collaborative relationships I am currently engaged in. As I'd hoped, investing in an unsalaried year of gathering social enterprise collaboration experience first hand is sparking a lot of focused thought on how to build a business that contributes meaningfully to the development of collaborative systems in the social change sector.

I have been talking with a lot of folks lately about facilitating collaboration through different kinds of "webbed events": from 100% virtual events, to face-to-face conference events and dinner parties that "web" themselves into a living interactive virtual state, to kickstart viral collaborative action.

The people I'm talking to about that are bringing several layers of depth into the product development process. I am acutely aware that right now I am not a social entrepreneur with an idea that sports the Ashoka label, but in start-up mode once again, with untried ideas. In that reflection on transition in my own career, one of the things that is fascinating me recently is the variety of career paths behind some of the fellow social entrepreneurs I'm interacting with regularly right now.

I have been tempted on more than one occasion to post the skype chat and/or voice notes from the conversations I've been having with the people I've listed below, and may still do that with their permission. I' feel it's important to document who they are and what they bring to this process.

- Ben Metz is a social enterprise strategy consultant and former director of Ashoka UK who is spearheading the OxfordJam event, that's scheduled to run parallel to the Skoll World Forum next month. Ben shares my zeal for encouraging changemakers to develop stakeholder collaboration strategies, and has worked with me to set the parameters for some practical labs that will experiment with collaboration strategy building approaches. I am equally excited about Friday morning's FREE Social Media and Collaboration session: transforming the value of your networks, and Thursday evening's Big Collaboration Dinner we're cooking up (£25) to evolutionize collaboration through team-play. The push is on, so book your tickets to both events now!

- Suresh Fernando brings a background in investment banking, tech financing and philosophy into my professional sphere. He is currently having some high level email conversations about financing models for collaborative systems building that I would love to see taking place more publicly, with more players who have an interest in that particular field. In the true spirit of collaborative integrity, Suresh agrees but refrains from calling that conversation himself. I have volunteered to think about convening a fishbowl discussion that includes Suresh's group as well as collaborators on a couple of related projects I am aware of. I am chewing over the best tools to use to create that online conversation event, and kind of excited about it.

- Mark Grimes has been a close collaborator and friend of mine for the past 6-7 years, both during my time in Africa and more recently. Prior to embarking on building the ned model, Mark created some of the web's earliest viral marketing successes. He currently operates 2 co-working spaces for tech startups and changemakers in Portland, and owns the online wiki/discussion space for better world builders at Mark shares my will to take risks and "just do it" when it comes to simple, good ideas. There's a lot of trust and loyalty between us. He and I are having some exciting conversations about tweaking and replicating the unconference event we co-hosted in Portland in February. I'm also talking to him about maybe putting the collaborative systems building discussion with Suresh and others at

- David Ewaku helps me connect the pieces of new and old concepts. David and I imagineered ideas together in Uganda as far back as 2002. He worked with me while he was in law school in Uganda, and his current UK course of study as a CPA specializing in network security makes him a really great thinking ally. David has been a party to the evolution of these concepts longer than anyone else, so I am able to talk to him about how the pieces fit together in ways that I can't with anyone else.

- Tom Dawkins is the social media coordinator in the Ashoka Washington office. It is ironic (but pleasant) to have an active working relationship with the inner Ashoka now that I'm no longer officially a fellow. Tom and I co-hosted the recent #4change chat, which gave me a nice opportunity to experience a fast-paced conversation event. I really appreciated his willingness to let me take the reigns, and forgiveness for my mistakes. We've also talked some about ways to engage more fellows in shaping Ashoka's social media presence. Tom doesn't know it yet, but I have some ideas for helping him to do that brewing, that I plan to share with him soon.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout-out, can't wait to hear your ideas! :)