This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.

It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.

It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

An Exploration of Applying Business Concepts to Community Engagement and more

This blog post is going to be on yet another Kumu map diagraming another set of interconnected relationships between concepts, resources and organizations involved in a Living Cities’ approach, as defined by their online course, to Collective Impact. This is the tenth such post on these approaches by this blog which continues to wrestle with the best means of taking what is for many new and unfamiliar concepts while presenting them in a new and unfamiliar way.

Three Kumu maps, with this being the fourth, of the five modules making up the Living Cities online Collective Impact course have been covered so far with each dealing with a different area of concern but all related to the larger enterprise. All blog posts, maps and foundational websites can be found under the Collective Impact wiki-page.

While the majority of comments received so far, through LinkedIn mainly, have been positive and helpful, it can be understood if some don't quite take to it as one LinkedIn commenter who of the last post said, "What ?? Is this available in English??".

Each Kumu Module map has a legend in the lower left corner showing the different types of elements that can be found on the maps. If these maps were seen as analogous to geographical maps of islands scattered across a sea, the islands would not necessarily make up a system but merely be a collection. It is the connections between the elements or islands that define the relationships. What could make them a system is the connection through ocean currents with some islands included in the system of currents and others outside it. The currents could make possible a system of trade in which bananas found on only one island trades for the exclusive coconuts of another island. Islands previously unreachable could be with a system of treaties covering safe passage. Finally, a system of government could be created encompassing a certain set of islands based on common interests. The point is that connections are not merely arbitrary but meaningful.

The connections on the module maps are primarily based on the narrative structure of the Living Cities course. With the Kumu map, it is possible to move beyond this largely linear approach and discover other types of relationships. Once one lands on a particular island or element it is then a matter of studying the specific territory through the associated url in the narrative section. Moving back from territory to map then allows one to chart new paths to carve and new territories to explore.

Using map sectors introduced in the last post with this current map, we will start at the outer edges and move inwards to cover both larger territory and any conceptual chasms that likely may appear when taking the approach of Applying Business Concepts to Community Engagement.

Such an approach may strike some as problematic if having had a long time antagonistic relationship with business, particularly large corporations. This blog supports the use of business discipline in government services but that is definitely not the same as running a democratic form of government as a business.

The first map sector to be looked at is how to Build Lean and Iterate Fast through the Lean Startup Movement. Again, there seems to be a disconnect between created-in-a-garage entrepreneurial endeavors and established institutions of government. The lessons to be learned though from the Lean Startup movement, whether used by start-up entrepreneurs or established managers, is designed to do one important thing: make better, faster business decisions. As has been discussed before, this blog's approach to the article Deliberation, Democracy and the Systemic Turn co-authored by David Owen and Graham Smith placed the relevant interrelated elements along two different planes. One of which, while incorporating a philosophy of 'Citizens at the Heart' of the enterprise, is a system designed to produce desired goods and necessary functions as opposed to the other that seeks a more ideal approach to a system of deliberative democracy based on the full inclusion of citizens.

Lean Startup is a principled approach to new product development, providing a scientific approach to creating and managing startups and getting a desired product to customers' hands faster. It teaches how to drive a startup, how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere and grow a business or community program with maximum acceleration.

“Product” in this case means a program, a service, a process, whatever one is designing and is not limited to a physical item. “Customer” refers to whomever is intended to benefit from using the “product” being designed, and from a community perspective, not only who is paying for it.

A great first step to applying Lean Startup methods is launching a product before building it by creating an MVP or Minimum Viable Product, a “… version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of learning about customers with the least effort".

It is part of an even more expansive idea of Community Engagement as Business which adds both ‘Engagement is Marketing’ and ‘Infrastructure Must Support Change’ elements as well as a relevant organization defining social enterprise, NESsT.

There are significant challenges to establishing cross-sector partnerships, with related elements mapped into their own sector. As described by the narrative of the original Living Cities course, they are linked to Community Engagement as Business sector and, with the addition of Design Thinking sector, have Week 4: Applying Business Concepts to Community Engagement as their foundation.

There is a difference though with the Design Thinking sector map. The majority of elements are listed under ‘additional resources’ in the original Living Cities course and it does not have a central element helping to define it.

It could be pointed out that the inclusion of the Design Thinking portion of the Business Concepts Applied to Community Engagement sector map was forced. Visually though it made sense, especially since Living Cities also included some additional Lean Startup resources designed to impact for social good. While the potential relations are apparent with the Kumu map they are arguably less so if depending upon a more linear written narrative. Having moved on a couple of chapters or clicked through a few web pages it becomes harder to envision connections and relationships if they are not made explicit and straightforward.

Taking this more at first strenuous path though is seen as worthwhile nonetheless because creating new community paradigms requires not only changing what we think but how we think. It is also still a work in progress subject, even anticipating, continuing revisions.

In keeping with this notion of continuous improvements, Modules 1 and 2 have been revisited and have had map sectors added to them. Most of the newly added sector maps seem readily obvious, following the format of a focused sector map, a central element within that focused sector map if available, a means of directly clearing the focused sector map, and a way of returning to the associated module either cleared or to combine with other sector maps.

Some sector maps are more constructed through intentional selection; most notable is A Design for Community Engagement that results from bridging two of Module 1's other sector maps, Harwood Institute & Collective Impact and Continuum of Engagement Goals, with Designing Public Participation Processes as the central element. Designing Public Participation Processes was also purposely selected for the Modules 1 to 2 Bridge and was the foundational element for the Systemic Design of Public Participation blog post series, as well as the inspiration for the Designing Public Participation Processes Map and subsequently the Public Participation Designed for Entrenched Incumbents Map. An element that Living Cities relegated to ‘additional resources’ was therefore made the basis for extensive exploration.

Those choices and all the others were individual in nature with the conflicting outcome that they are both restrictive in having certain pathways selected while initially obscure as the way to be taken has to be described at each step. However, this is only because this is the initial exploration to get a sense of the layout. Although there is a great deal more work and undoubtedly numerous revisions to be done, the hope is that this Kumu project can be developed fully enough that it can be adapted for use by different groups to do their own joint explorations. As was pointed out in the Systems Thinking Certification course, people, groups will have more ownership for something if they have a part in building it, even if it is something that has been built before. Still, it could not merely be a matter of copying the steps out of a book. It would have to involve having a fresh look and new thinking about the overall design and implementation.

Past Posts