Saturday, April 24, 2010

why #oxfordjam will sing in #socent #4change event memory

I've been thinking a lot lately about the role Evolutionize It can play in organizing events for social entrepreneurs, so when the invitation to participate in #oxfordjam came through my friend @amyrsward, I jumped at it. Before I knew it, I had 2 sessions to throw together - one of them a collaboration dinner that ended up being full of surprising lessons. This post isn't about what happened at my sessions, but about what happened as a result of @BenMetz's initiative to co-create an event with others. As you may have already guessed, I'm singing praises.

What I really loved most about the Oxford Jam event was that it brought together a wonderfully interesting mish-mash of event styles. Cliff Prior of Unltd. UK did a fabulous job of facilitating the sector skill swap, with physical movement in the room and brightly colored post-it's pasted on our clothes. Ethical Property created a game that gave us each monopoly money to invest in 5 very different kinds of social sector investments. The inspiring afternoon Ted style talks gave people doing amazing things the spotlight to tell others about what they were doing and invite discussions to learn more. Perhaps my favorite session was the Patient Opinion session on gift economies, where - for some reason I've yet to fully come to grips with - the hair on my neck stood up when we got to the bit about monetizing the part where the highest social value lies.

The patchwork of session styles, all designed by really smart people to push and pull at my brain, did just that. The "Let it all hang out" evening cabaret with Liam Black was surely a highlight, but it unfortunately came with a high price. My one regret is that my body is not accustomed to functioning on so little sleep. Being late to breakfasts with the social enterprise investment infrastructure people from the Skoll World Forum was really a bummer, in the end. Those are the discussions in which I had the most aha moments.

The cross-pollination between the Skoll World Forum and the Oxford Jam helped me to see that the kinds of investment vehicles the "investor" crowd are talking about creating are actually realistic for a very small, tiny subgroup of the social entrepreneurs I know. Not only do I wish this group would widen their view to study what kinds of investment vehicles social enterprises around the world actually need, but social entrepreneurs need to be groomed to be able to absorb the kinds of structured investment amounts and formats that the investors are talking about. "We need a Kiva for social enterprise" rolled off my tongue in a number of conversations at the Oxford Jam event. Those are the conversations I look most forward to continuing with folksat the Shine Unconference in London next month.

Amanda at @RedButtonDesign was kind enough to share a ton of insight into what worked and didn't work with the event's online strategy. I also learned a whole lot about better world video production (and synthesized many collaboration dinner lessons) with a sweetheart of a woman named Denise Kirtley who was there making a video of the event for the OxfordJam crew. I hope to write more about those lessons, and how I'm seeing them play out in my own imagineering in future posts here.

Since coming back, I have been in deep underground imagineering mode for an event concept that I've been nurturing in dialogue with others. OxfordJam's brilliant patchwork approach, the local burlesque flavor, old industrial architecture repurposed for the cross-pollination of ideas, opportunities for entrepreneurship and interpreneurship at Evolutionize It... all of these have me thinking about what makes an event sing in the memories of the people who attend. The first Oxford Jam will always sing through the video lens of my personal memory, with a great beat and an intellectually jazzy Oxford tempo that made me want to catch more of it.

Responding to some post event twitter buzz I'm seeing, please, YES! Let's make OxfordJam a thrivable yearly gathering place for showcasing the Social Enterprise building song. If @BenMetz and co-conspirators can pull it off again in 2011, I hereby pledge to SING at next year's OxfordJam cabaret (which, by the way, featured far too few of our sector's women with hidden talents this year!)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Notes from #OxfordJam on new trends in #4change events

The following are my notes from the breakout session on new trends in social enterprise events that happened during the Oxford Jam Sector Skills Swap, facilitated by Cliff Prior from Unltd. UK.

New trends in #4change events

Tracey: 13th street theater

idea - social enterprise musical
socents listed in profile
donate part of proceeds to socents
themes in story

Christina: Evolutionize It

Global unconferences
webbed for impact
more news soon

Sharifa: lien center of social innovation (singapore)

focus in on an issue (migration)
planted actors in audience & lunchtimes who posed as migrant workers
audience: mix of entrepreneurs and academics
divided audience into upper/middle/lower class wrt food served
built roleplaying into conference
audience preferred lower class

Kate: Coin street (own & manage 13 acre transformed site)

Master classes
shared experience plus - peer learning events
based around skills required to transform asset based orgs

Dave: social entrepreneurs in health / nurse entrepreneurs

how to compromise btwn participation shaped events and more structured events that cover (by mandate from companies sending people) specific events
benefit/challenges of integrating sociual media

Sean - workshops for social entrpreneurs
how do you get the right people at an event?

@DaveDawes 2 best #socent events Voice & Shine

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Notes from the #OxfordJam Gift Economies discussion, facilitated by @paulhodgkin

Christina's notes: 
Gift economies (Paul Hodgkin, Patient Opinion)

how to mix financial and gift economies in digital activities
linux movement
amazing things happening at scale

what is a gift economy?
system of social incentives where you are judged by how much you give, not by how much you have
pre-dated marketed economies by a millenium
evident in families, in well working teams

no money attached to the gift
if you think “if I pay for this, i’ll screw it up” ie don’t pay your mother-in-law for dinner she cooks
the gift always travels - what goes around comes around
- asynchronous return - invest now by giving for a return someday

market norms vs social norms
intrinsically motivated, not extrinsically motivated
intrinsic motivations come from the heart - healthier to us

how complete or incomplete is a gift economy

malcolm gladwell - 150 optimal size of a functioning group
web changes dynamic
endless supply of goods
network effect

gift economy effect- find meaning in the gift economy
digital effect - reduced cost of giveing & distributing
network effect - the one with the largest network wins

yum-yum objects - love, play, art, - unlimited supply
monster objects - oil, money, etc.

we need “we can change the world” objects

problem of freeloaders - everyone wants something for free - now freeloaders become active audience

there are disincentives for for corporations to run gift economies
gift economies in government are seen as a problem - corruption
govt. also have a need to make sure things are functioning so can’t rely on volunteer time gifts

what does it mean to “run” a gift economy?
differentiate between exchange system and infrastructure that facilitates exchange

pirate bay/wikipedia examples: large network where exchange happens; small part of it monetized to keep infrastructure running: how small must that remain in order not to ruin the gift economy?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

13 Lessons Learned from Social Enterprise Start-ups

In the Micro-Success social enterprise start-up support group that I facilitate at Hub Brussels, 7 entrepreneurs (including me) meet monthly to share experiences and talk through the issues we are facing in building our social enterprises.

One of the homework assignments that group members prepare before coming to the meetings is to identify a lesson they have recently learned. The following is a list of some of the lessons group members have shared since January. I thought it worth sharing more widely.
  1. assess your work volume & set clear times to work on your project vs paid work (Bess)

  2. keep things simple - Don’t try to do too many things at once (Martina)

  3. less is more. Focus on 1 project at a time. (Filip)

  4. don't drag things out with intense perfectionism (Martina)

  5. don't overbook yourself at holidays or when visitors in town (Christina)

  6. figure out what to focus your time on; learn to delegate (Phillippe)

  7. be the authentic you - don't put on a show (Geert)

  8. come to grips with asking people to pay for services (Geert)

  9. understand your cost structure details - including hidden items (Martina)

  10. stress management - respect days off for yourself (Phillippe)

  11. define your deliverable (Bess)

  12. define and accept your own limits (Antoine)

  13. collaborative approaches take time (Christina)