Thursday, 31 March 2011
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Consistently with expectations, Europe is bracing to make serious investments in these solutions, and this presents a major opportunity to social business. The assignments in my last slide are going to be carried over to next week, as this week students are going to be working on an entry to the competition for social business ideas proposed by Tiago and agreed upon by everyone.
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Kickstarter is an online platform that allows almost anyone to raise funding from potential interested individuals.
Baio, Kickstarter’s CTO, explains:
“The model is simple: a project creator sets a fundraising goal, deadline, and an optional set of rewards for backers. If the goal’s reached by the deadline, then everyone’s charged via Amazon Payments and the backers get their goodies. If the goal’s not reached, nobody’s charged. It’s all or nothing.”
Anyone with an interesting project idea that needs funding but doesn’t want to go along asking friends and family for financial support can communicate with the masses through this platform. Kickstarter’s community members, aka ‘backers’, browse through the projects, choose the one they are interested in, and help co-found the project by donating part of the funding.
The attached diagram is a simple way to explain how the business model works. Kickstarter recieves small payments from the ‘backers’ who wish to support a certain project. In return, Kickstarter provides the ‘creator’ of the project with exposure on its online platform and with the required funding to complete the project. The fund seeker, in order to convince the community members to support the project, will have to promise exclusive and personalized gifts as an incentive depending on the amount donated.
If the full amount of money pledged is raised within the given period of time, the project goes through. If not, and in order to protect both parties, the project is annulled and no money is charged upfront from the members.
Check out some of the wonderful projects completed or in the process on Kickstarter’s webpage: http://www.kickstarter.com/
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
What I consider innovative is the idea of a concrete help from ordinary to ordinary people, as a challange of faith. You do not need to be a huge investors, not a bank or a great organization. And you are not supposed to offer a big deal of money, but a small amount, which is what normal people can afford and what people in developing country usually needs. Even more, what sounds great is that results of this campaign seems to be impressive, and people answers positively and willing to this "market".
Here you are links to have a look..
It is true that this Project has no aim to produce income, but I'm convinced that we can consider it as a good Idea where to start building a plan, since it is always from a good idea that it is possible to work on something and that the concept at the base of whatever our research must be fundamental.
RU_project was born from two Danish brothers. Because of their father job, they have been travelled a lot and all over the place, increasing their sensitivity relates to human right and conditions. Always keeping an eye open on the immigration's issue, when it was time to moved back to Denmark, Christopher and David Mikkelsen keep on working in the social field.
That since they came up with this idea of creating a network platform, similar to facebook somehow, to allow people, refugees, to find themselves after emigrations or escapes. People that, because of the tough, conflictual conditions of their countries, got to leave their families and escape.
I've read about this on wired (March 2011), and here there is the link if you want to have a look yourselves.
I think it is interesting and even more, if helping people to be happy, in the concrete sense of this word, could be considered a social income, it means this plan-project do is a proper social business example!
The business plan is, in my opinion, only the structure of a real business plan that can support all this social impact of bringing more efficient lighting solutions to the developing world with numbers, measurable goals and timing. Standfort University is actually saying in this report that 3 individual, stand alone business plans for China, India and Mexico were developed (found China which is much more complete and detailed). The main concern in this report is the social impact of such a product but it lacks all the economic part, some detailed paths in order to achieve the goals and the time issue is totally ignored. Everything is explained in general, some parts built just on common sense and with too little probability of success (3 employees with too daring objectives worldwide). I didn’t get their enthusiasm for franchising, a step in my opinion too early to be taken into consideration, as well as the whole fundraising issue which seems too positive and without a concrete sustainable part. In the part where partners should be taken into consideration, there is no criterion of selection (to be in line with the values or to have proven success??).
For a more detailed business plan, take a look at China pilot case:
Friday, 18 March 2011
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
Let me remind us of the rules of engagement for this part of the course.
- we are going to be completely honest and trasparent about our business case. Remember, business planning is a troubleshooting exercise: if you try to camouflage your errors they may not show up – until it's too late, and you are committed to running a crippled business.
- we are going to be very upfront with our feedback about each other's business planning. Be generous when praising, merciless when criticizing. No ego massaging or bleeding hearts allowed :-)
- we are not going to take offense when somebody else exposes our mistakes. This is not personal: criticism is, actually, a very precious gift.
Sunday, 13 March 2011
As with every web project, I started off (even before thinking about anything else) trying to structure the information into different levels (according to usability and interface, this means the amount of times that the user has to click in order to arrive to the information that he or she is interested in).
With this in mind I created a framework or map of the Blog, dividing the information into the different levels wich I thought were important.
The first interesting feature is that we can embed our calendar as a widget on our blog. Since we all have full editing capabilities on our D4SB calendars, every time one of us makes a change, the calendar is updated in real time on our blog. Google Calendar also allows us to view the calendar in day, week, month or agenda mode. For visibility and coherency's sake, we decided to stick with agenda view.
Another attractive feature is that Google calendar allows you to automatically add other public calendars such as sports events, television shows or holidays. I’ve added the Italian public holidays on our calendar, it could come in handy for planning vacations ahead of time!
Another useful feature is the weather forecast. It appears very discreetly as an icon on the calendar indicating whether it’s going to be sunny, rainy, or cloudy on that specific day in addition to a couple of days in advance.
Google Calendar also provides its users with customizable reminder options so as not to forget events. We can allow Google Calendar to send reminders via SMS to our cell phones. As a scheduled event draws near, Google Calendar can send an alert via SMS to our registered phone number. If we don’t want to push it that far, but still need that reminder, we can be notified of an upcoming event via email or a pop-up window.
There are limitless other features and gadgets that we can insert in our calendar such as google maps for indicating event locations or images for references, so feel free to explore and make that calendar not only functional but also interesting to browse!
I will talk briefly about Google Analytics and how it can give precious insights to us. The best part is that it gives very basic reports that anybody can understand, as well as more sofisticated ones. Analyzing all traffic data means looking at graphs and charts that will show how many visitors the blog has, their evolution as a function, average of pages, time, content, ecc. Just by looking attentively one can understand the strengths and weaknesses of a blog or site, because like in everything we do, we need solid ground and numbers to understand quality and preference. This will generate the need of rethinking maybe the content, the design part or maybe just focus on the details. In my opinion the content has top level importance together with the “blog personality”, generating readers that hopefully will continue to return and spend more time with “us”. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure that one out.
For us it’s so useful to understand the specific tools that can generate high volume traffic and how we can meet the expectation of the reader in order to build a successful story. In my opinion, one step at the time will do the trick, because learning by doing is the best way.
Friday, 11 March 2011
… a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and [a common] approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. (J. Katzenbach & D.Smith)
The first thing we pointed during last week class was that, even if we work as a group pursuing the same goal and sharing similar interests, we also are different and independent human beings, with various way of thinking and approaching work and projects.
From this perspective becomes really clear the reason of having such a platform as a blog; a choral reality in witch every one of us can be considered an unique voice that can share ideas, thoughts, news or complains.
The idea of using on on-line platform as a new interaction tool between us students and teachers it’s real interesting, and, speaking of Design I think that interaction can be considered a core issue, that's why we have to figure out the best way of using these new tools we are discovering.
In our particular situation we are trying to face an on-line interaction more than an off-line one for the first time.
I think that we are facing a new way of collaborating that potentially can give us competitive skills in the world of social business.
Learning to project and to use properly a collaborative environment could give us the chance to start a way better and faster collaboration between us thanks to such tools as videos, voice messaging (considered into the sphere of the synchronous communication ) or emails and shared files ( considered into the sphere of the asynchronous communication ), and could also help us in the achievement of an higher productivity in terms of final results.
Finally we don't have to forget the power that an on-line platform can have; It can be not only about us as studets or teachers, but also a point of interest for every other person interested in social business or design.
Thursday, 10 March 2011
It's about presenting initiatives among these areas: Social Inclusion, Ageing, Environment and Sustainability and Intercultural Dialogue. The initial idea I had even before starting the D4SB master is related to Social Inclusion.
As we all know, the global temperature of the earth is continuing to increase due to global warming. Last year Brazil experienced the hottest summer ever after the average temperature rising +1 celsius degree compared to the previous year. The Amazon, lungs of the planet, suffered the worst drought in 100 years causing major damage to the lives of fishermen in the area.
This means that every summer dry and hot countries like Portugal will continue being victims of wildfires that will pursue growing exponentially, burning down thousands of hectares and destroying lives of many families. Unfortunately this scenario will only get worse year after year.
A solution would be creating a private fire brigade to help out the state's insufficient firefighters combating these disasters. The revolutionary idea is (I have to make this attractive guys!) the fire brigade would be composed by ex-prisoners. Thus allowing them a new re-integration into society through the "big door", appearing on television and news as authentic heroes, just like firefighters do every summer.
Did you know, over 80% of these former prisoners return to prison because no one hires them to work due to their passed. This is a easy way to fall into this vicious circle of drugs, theft and crime. In this case they are given the opportunity to work in their own country by helping these endangered families.
Of course, this private fire brigade needs to have extra facilities compared to a conventional firefighter brigade. For example, in this sense the human resource department should be focused on psychological treatment and the training department also centered in academic education.
I think other social excluded persons such as beggars, drug addicts, etc, could also join the brigade.
Now that you know the idea, please criticize it and let's all think of how this private firefighter brigade could make profit and be social business.
Perfect, now that everyone knows what we're talking about, let's get down to blogging business.
Now a days, every blog theme or template by default ensures the author his posts will reach out some readers such as Google Reader via RSS or ATOM feeds. However if you feel your voice and interests should be read by more people, you might consider using other free services like (Google) FeedBurner enabling features that can be added to your blog rss feed and subscription as well as tracking traffic received via feed.
Optimizing, redirecting and personalizing your feeds
Title/Description. First step should be personalizing your FeedBurner account by going to the feature called Title/Description burner (under "Optimize" tab) that can be used to change the default title of your feed. Use this to add the punch line or blog description to make your feed more attractive.
Full Feed. Second step would be publishing full feeds, switching from partial feed to full feed. People don't like having to do an extra click just to read the entire article. Here's an interesting experiment on this matter.
FeedFlare is another feature of FeedBurner that helps you to add your social sharing and bookmarking links on the footer of your RSS posts. This way readers can share your posts on their social networks just by clicking on the social bookmarks.
Smartfeed makes your feeds accessible not only from browsers, but also from mobile phones, various gadgets and widgets. With SmartFeed you don’t need to bother about compatibility of your feeds across different platforms, Feedburner will take care of it for you. To activate it: “Activate” button on the SmartFeed service page. You can find SmartFeed options page following this path: “Optimize/Services/SmartFeed”.
Socialize helps distribute your feed via social networks, with the first network being Twitter. If you use Blogger, you can already connect your feed to Buzz via the "Connected Sites" link in Buzz.
Offer email subscriptions. Feedburner will automatically send out regular emails to your email subscribers whenever new content is posted. If this feature is enabled, it is important to customize the confirmation email by putting a logo (for example). Also set the delivery option after finding out when your blog readers are most active. You can track the user activity by using Google Analytics.
Feed Image Burner service. Just like the previous emails personalization, it is important to do so with your feeds as well, since numerous modern RSS readers can display a special image associated with the feed. To activate it: "Optimize/Services/Feed Image Burner" and select "Specify custom image URL" in the “Image Source” dropdown. You can use FeedCount there, as suggested by Feedburner, or simply fill out the form with your site’s logo URL, site title and URL. For maximum compatibility it’s not recommended to use an image more than 144 pixels tall or wide.
Other tips. These tips can be a bit more subjective, nevertheless I think it's important to put them out there. Keywords and important text should be in bold, this makes the post more attractive. Avoid underlined text, in my opinion, it can be confused with links.
There are some more technical plugins but then we would be going into gueek-blogging-underground-universe, and let me tell you we don't want to do that, right?
By the way
I've been reading about how to blog, what are the rules of blogging and what brings success to a blog... and I realized the secret is that there is no secret. Take this experienced blogger word for granted: "Each successful blog has its uniqueness. It might be the personality or voice of the blogger, the topic, the design, the fact that they were first, that they’re funny, that they’re comprehensive and thoughtful, that they post 100 times a day, or that they post once a month… But each of them is unique somehow".
Bottom line is: find your own path and make the most out of what you've got.
Yesterday's session brought about a surprise: students have proposed to participate in several competition for new social startups across the globe, as a way of exercise. Excellent: this is going to be a great exercise, and probably a lot of fun. It does, however, mean that we are going to move to next week one of the final lectures, the one about business planning (submissions in these competitions are business plans, what else could they be?), that was originally scheduled for much later. And that means I have to scramble to prepare the lecture.
I'll do my best, though my schedule is very full. I know the topic reasonably well, so the main problem will be preparing a batch of my famously sleek slides :-). To do a better job of it, there is something I need to know from each of you. Do you know what the following expressions mean:
- fixed costs vs. variable costs
- investments and depreciation of investments
- costs/revenues vs. liabilities/assets
Please each of you answer by commenting this post. Thanks!
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
It seems that blogging is new for most of us, as we all encoutered some type of difficulty (at least I did!) on what to blog, how, where and the slow start showed us that this is a tool that we need to get used to and incorporate in our daily routine. On the other hand, it seemed a lot of fun to read what is our collegues' mind, coment it and hear the tips that Alberto took the care of writing in each post.
As per the blog as a tool itself, I think it is a very powerfull way to share our thoughts, experiences and knowledge to the outside comunity and between ouselves creating a synergy around the social business and this master. On this first step, it can became a strong database and source for us if we all comit on keeping it going and, most of all, create debate on the subjects posted. On the second step, this blog will also represent our voice to the world.
Other than the blog, Google Docs seems quite good for the co-production of documents and texts that can be later on added to the blog. One way I suggest to keep the interaction between this two platforms could be posting a teaser every week that could lead into the creation of a document in Google Docs where we all give our contribution. After a week we can post the article in the blog and lauch the next teaser.
We also have a big challenge which is learn to use Moodle, the other tool that is already available for us and has its advantages regarding the educational environment. My concerns are that we end up overlaping these platforms becoming redundant, or that we fail to create a unified collaborative system across all disciplines of this master.
I gave everybody administrator superpowers and I took the initiative of creating two pages - 'About Social Business' where we can find its decription given by Yunus and 'About this Blog' where so far there is just a citation from Ghandi that express (I hope!) our mindset as students of this master. I invite you to create together a text (in google Docs!) that we can put in there.
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
How cool is this? We can even have our mind maps embedded on our blog!
Ok so here is the plan: I think we should refer to this map every time we have doubts or even get lost. It is a very complex world and this will not only help us keep track but also if we continuously update it with our latest discoveries, by the end of the master it'll be pretty complete.
What do you think?
However, we have found a way to make use of that flexibility and the available collaborative tools in order to collectively share and edit the course calendar.
I have already initiated a google calendar, with different layers for different classes. Professors can share their personal course schedule and all coworkers can have access to the information. Details such as name of class, professor, subject to be covered, location, class hours and even tasks can be uploaded and shared on this platform.
Updating the calendar is an on-going process so let’s try to keep it alive and as accurate as possible!
Monday, 7 March 2011
So many questions out there waiting to be answered, but the most important: “What kind of platform do we want?” It was a difficult choice due to the fact that we, as a group, do not have a common voice already, the purpose became bigger than we thought in the beginning and some of us will have to deal with a completely new tool of work.
We started by saying that the platform should be designed from the beginning in such a way to be able to interact with the outside world later on without remaining a closed experience in the end. So, a core system was created that would generate later on an editorial content in order to spread our ideas. The core system contains practical information (updated calendar, course content, assignments), discussions and learning monitoring and a multi-user blogging tool with a simple and direct interface. We thought it would be useful to write always the summary of the previous lesson of this course for those who missed the class and need guidance. It was quite fun to organize our minds using contemporaneous Google Docs and to feel ourselves how we can contribute to a shared body of knowledge.
We wanted hierarchy for our first steps because the situation could easily become overwhelming and in this way we know exactly “who” has to do “what” “ when”.
The second step of our project, an editorialized reach out tool will gain for its precedent experience and once we will find “our” meaning we will be able to give its best shape. A name was given, quite nice taking in consideration the fact that the class was at its end – “Social Business Talks”.
We agreed in spending time blogging, so the tool could have a smooth start. Keep you posted.
And here it is the previous presentation of our professor Alberto Cottica, the starting point of our collaboration platform:
Friday, 4 March 2011
Professor Alberto Cottica gave as a first assignment the opportunity to analyze how should a social business collaboration network between students and professors work and what would this shared knowledge base look like.
In the presentation you will notice I aimed my analysis at a whole different level since I find crucial having a clear visibility of the entire picture. Besides, Sir Francis Bacon once wrote: "When you wish to achieve results that have not been achieved before, it is an unwise fancy to think that they can be achieved by using methods that have been used before". The presentation below is divided in 4 parts:
1. Knowing how balance in a natural network (according to Bernard Lietaer) is achieved may help us seeking sustainability, and even when it comes to internet collaboration it is most important.
2. Recent studies have shown we are heading towards a more direct world where peer-to-peer applications and video format will rule the market. This "less for more" attitude coming both from developed and undeveloped countries, will enable disruptive innovation and therefore create unique methods of interaction and collaboration.
3. Some cases of successful collaboration: Open Architecture Network, The Zeitgeist Movement, Ask Nature.
4. What I consider from my humble point of view to be the most suitable long-term Social Business collaborative network.
After all we have to start somewhere and indeed, small is the first way to go. Let's do it!