.: on the frontiers of venturing and venture investing :.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Some related links - adding on to another conversation.

I commented on Fred Wilson's Looking Forward post yesterday and he reblogged a part of my comment in his tumblog here. Tt's been generating a few emails to me so for those that are interested, here are a few other links that follow that theme...

- A few of us are convening an event that is digging deeper into that mindset that riffs off open source openeverything.net.
- Ervin Laszlo's Macroshift - a book about the evolution of civilization and the interplay of technology and mindsets (my highlights and links to the book - additional post here)
- A post of mine on this phase we are in that I'm calling "the Great Remix". Additional posts here and here.
- Stafford Beer's work on information design of systems in an organizational context (my highlights and links to his book and work)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Forces at play in the The Great Remix

The final piece from this work on The Great Remix are a couple of presentations that explore the forces at play. I've yet to add annotated detail but here they are nonetheless.



Doing differently in the Great Remix

The one other piece that I'll share from my exploration into the Great Remix, is a part about how I see doing happening differently as we move forward.

The following four areas now describe how doing is different in the context of the Great Remix.

Employ Systems Dynamics
(From conductor to mix master)
As the systems of our civilization demonstrate instability and failure more frequently, openings are created for previously unexpected initiatives to emerge. We can’t know when or how but rather must work to condition the emergence of those initiatives.

Originally uploaded by mrhayata
Insights from the domains of systems science point to how systems work, providing essential knowledge into how to transform and operate within the systems we have. Leaders now require competencies more like those of a a mix master DJ as opposed to those of a conductor. While composers work with their orchestra to perform predetermined music, a mix master DJ comes to a room with an assortment of songs and sounds which they mix together according to the energy of the audience and the experience they hope to happen.

There are already many bodies of work in this area and the increasing rate of new works being published indicates the growing interest in this topic. Some particularly notable works include:

Distill to Essential Elements
(From buildings to bricks.)
Big things have tremendous momentum and aren't easily remixed with other things. This manifests as resistance to change and slows the pace of evolution. It also sets the stage for more spectacular failures. Enabling the capacity to essentially remix our society into a system compatible with the common goal requires that things be re-mixable. This means breaking things back down into their essential elements - deconstructing their existing configurations - to reuse the valuable pieces in ways that fit the new context. Houses can’t be remixed very well, but bricks can.

In this context organizations are bundles of people and assets that organize around a purpose, work towards a set of goals, deliver an offering (product or service), and develop a set of core competencies. Similarly, people are grounded in purpose, driven by passion, accumulate experiences, knowledge and connections, and develop competencies and insights. The capacity to remix elemental components of organizations and individuals directly relates to our potential in the Great Remix.

Dynamic Organization in Individual Context
(From phonebook to crystal ball)
Context is essential for people to make meaningful connections to each other and to other knowledge. Humans are extraordinary at dealing with context and substantially limited without it. Take language for example: phrases or statements out of context can be taken to mean very different things - a reality made abundantly clear by sensationalist media.

Through the context lens, information is best when:
  • presented with the context it came from
  • received in the configuration most relevant to the context of the recipient
  • exchanged through the point where both contexts converge.

In venturing for example, imagine if rather than relying on an individual mentor, limited by their own individual context, the venturer was able to access the essential insights, experiences, and connections of a 1,000 entrepreneurs filtered according to the context of their individual and immediate situation. That would be like moving from phonebook to crystal ball.

Allying the Frontiers
(From discrete domains to friends on the frontiers.)
Given the purpose of quickening the evolution of our civilization toward the common goal, it is imperative that we foster the convergence and interaction of those that are taking initiative on the frontiers across all related domains. In this context we see the commonality between many discrete domains such as technology, science, mathematics and philosophy.

Connecting those with purpose primacy related to the common goal across all domains would be a high-leverage opportunity. Doing so could better orient and leverage all activity working toward the common goal regardless of domain.

The Great Remix

Part of my silence over the last few months has been from some deep-digging I was doing in an engagement with the Social Innovation group at MaRS and with the Centre for Social Innovation. One of the great things about the engagement was an opportunity to push deeper into what's underneath social innovation, social entrepreneurship and social enterprise. What's come from that is seeping into most everything I'm doing right now - and so it's about time I get back to posting what I've been discovering.

Perhaps the most profound observation during the course of this exploration is that social innovation and social entrepreneurship are not so much intentional movements as they are phenomena of the evolution of civilization.

As civilization reaches an increasing degree of complexity we are being confronted by the limits of the system that created it. This is being experienced as systemic instability and failure in everything from credit markets to climate change to the remix of the music industry. While we don’t know how things will evolve, we can be sure that whether through intentional actions or systemic collapses, we are entering a period of increasing reconfiguration - “the Great Remix”

At the same time numerous fields of study are converging on the realization that “everything is connected” and that connectedness, connectivity, and emergence are fundamentally important areas of understanding. This realization is key to learning how we might successfully steer our civilization toward a just and sustainable state.

The movements of social finance/innovation/entrepreneurship/tech all bring different perspectives and at the same time share a common ground. From this common ground will come the new initiatives and systems that change the trajectory of our evolution.

Common Ground
The frontiers of the evolution of civilization share the common ground of:

Interdependent in a “common goal”
Acknowledging a greater common goal of a just and sustainable balance among people and the planet.

Driven forward by “purpose primacy”
People and initiatives that hold a primary purpose directly related to the common goal are the catalysts of civilization's evolution toward a just and sustainable state.

Action taken through a “practical approach”
The strategies and actions of these people and initiatives tend towards:
  • Sustainable financial viability;
  • Practical and productive application of techniques and approaches from non-traditional domains; and
  • Distributing increasing control, earnings, and assets into the communities they serve.
The people and initiatives in this domain tend to be increasingly expressive of the following values:
  • Exhibiting the qualities of open, fluid, and dynamic
  • Providing spaces for people as they are and as they want to become
  • Embracing the richness and wisdom in differences
  • Acting with a light spirit, sense of fun, creativity and a perspective of opportunity
I'll post some more excerpts from this and my other recent work over the coming weeks as I get back into the groove.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Social Tech Training - June 22-24, 2008

SocialTech Training
That's right, Social Tech Training is happening this June in Toronto.  Here's the link and a quick blurb.  Check-it out and sign-up if it catches your eye. Coming from Web of Change and MaRS it's bound to be an excellent event!
No one working in social change these days can afford to ignore the opportunities offered by the web. Most organizations get stuck, though, on "How do we do it?" "Where do we start?" and "Who can help us?" Interest in high, but the talent pool of people equipped to understand, prioritize, and implement these tools and ideas remains limited.

We've gathered the best and the brightest leaders in this sector, and we've put together an agenda that will help take your organization to the next level. Each participant will emerge with new technical, creative, and leadership skills, a powerful network, and a customized, comprehensive “Web 2.0 Plan” for their organization.

This training is an excellent opportunity to connect to the big picture, develop practical skills required to execute, and network with both leaders and learners in this emerging space. We are excited to be part of this transformation of the social change sector. Please join us!