Social Enterprise Ecosystem


On October 11, 2014 I initiated a process known as a “knowledge dump”. Ten hours per day, for 23 days in a row, I wrote, I sketched, and, over 100,000 words later, this version was ‘done’. I called it the social enterprise ecosystem methodology. It’s gone through many iterations, but this would represent my first intentional roll-out of an ecosystem with the hope of influencing the output of my community in a positive way.

WeWork, and other spaces like WeWork, are critical elements in cultivating healthy impact ecosystem. Both as a venue and convener, WeWork’s strong focus on community and the quality of social ties creates an inviting environment inspires thoughts such as, “I could turn my dreams into a reality right here at this WeWork location.”

In 2016, I brought my project from Princeton, NJ to Washington, D.C. I began my roll-out strategy similarly to how I did in Princeton, and it wasn’t long before existing members of the DC ecosystem reached out to me. General Assembly publicly advocated for my capabilities as an industry-recognized service designer, and, in doing so, attracted a few big fish like WeWork, My Brother’s Keeper, and the Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office.

IDEO selected me as one-of-five global design coaches for their design challenge, “Reimagining Higher Education.” I was journaling on IDEO’s open innovation platform, and my reflection piqued the interest of an IDEO evaluator, Kate Rushton.

 


Founder of New Jersey’s first-ever social innovation conference, Cooperative Impact.


Founder of the postsecondary education pipeline program, Action Horizon Institute.

Problem

The fundamental principles governing the way we participate in the free market are ill-equipped to meet the evolving needs of humanity.

 

“In recent years business has been criticized as a major cause of social, environmental, and economic problems…Focused on optimizing short-term financial performance, they overlook the greatest unmet needs in the market…”

https://hbr.org/2011/01/the-big-idea-creating-shared-value 

 

“We’re making a critical investment in human capital – one that will fuel the growth of innovation at businesses across the Garden State and recapture New Jersey’s reputation as a pre-eminent leader in science and technology.”

-Governor Phil Murphy

 

“We’re bringing together the existing corporations who have needs in innovation, with people who have exciting ideas and prospects.”

-Donald Sebastian, president and CEO of the New Jersey Innovation Institute

 

I am going to talk about people like Adam Smith, Peter Drucker, Amartya Sen, Paul Krugman, Richard Centillion, Daniel D’Alonzo, and many more. I am going to talk about the American Apprenticeship Initiative which launched in 2014, and, more recently, received a few hundred million in state funding

 

 

 

 On October 11, 2014 I initiated a process known as a “knowledge dump”. Ten hours per day, for 23 days in a row, I wrote, I sketched, and, over 100,000 words later, this version was ‘done’. I called it the social enterprise ecosystem methodology. It’s gone through many iterations, but this would represent my first intentional roll-out of an ecosystem with the hope of influencing the output of my community in a positive way.

 

WeWork, and other spaces like WeWork, are critical elements in cultivating healthy impact ecosystem. Both as a venue and convener, WeWork’s strong focus on community and the quality of social ties creates an inviting environment inspires thoughts such as, “I could turn my dreams into a reality right here at this WeWork location.”

 

In 2016, I brought my project from Princeton, NJ to Washington, D.C. I began my roll-out strategy similarly to how I did in Princeton, and it wasn’t long before existing members of the DC ecosystem reached out to me. General Assembly publicly advocated for my capabilities as an industry-recognized service designer, and, in doing so, attracted a few big fish like WeWork, My Brother’s Keeper, and the Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office.

 

IDEO selected me as one-of-five global design coaches for their design challenge, “Reimagining Higher Education.” I was journaling on IDEO’s open innovation platform, and my reflection piqued the interest of an IDEO evaluator, Kate Rushton.

 

 

 

How I scaled a social enterprise ecosystem from city to city

 

After the successful design, implementation, and comprehensively documented roll-out of the Princeton Impact Project in 2015, I was now ready to bring my evidence-based social enterprise ecosystem methodology to the next city. I learned a few things from the Princeton experience that would help in the next city, and I was eager to get started.

I am in the business of helping people. It made sense that I would make my next designation our nation’s capital.

One of the hardest part of influencing a user’s adoption of a product happens right at the beginning of their interactions with the product, the brand, and the people who represent the brand.

To overcome this initial obstacle, I invested my first three months under the guise of an ethnographic research project. I was able to immerse myself in the local community, learn about the lives of the people, listen to their stories, establish trust, and reach a point where we cared about one another. I didn’t tell anyone about the success of the Impact Project or that I had recently piloted my evidence-based methodology. Perhaps that was an immoral decision, but the alternative would have been destructive to the eventual adoption of the methodology. If the methodology is critical to our quality of life, then I was willing to leave that tidbit out of my conversations with everyone with whom I spoke.

 

After the initial three months, I was ready to transition into the next phase of my methodology. You see, the really cool part about all of this, was how I was actually following my own methodology so that I could further prove the validity and interchangeability of my discovery.

 

Reflecting on how I validated my ideas via meetup.com in Princeton led me to follow a similar path. Previously, I was able to validate desirability of my project through hosting a new Meetup series at the Princeton Public Library. It was an ecosystem initiative that would roll out its own microservices to the city based on the discovery and customer development. Likewise, I would now test Georgetown Public Library as the first within the network of public library location throughout D.C. Prior to rolling anything out, however, I invested my first six months in D.C. as a new resident who prioritized sewing himself into the cultural fabric of the community.

 

At first, i was hesitant to start a new group in D.C. simply because there already so many people doing so many things. I was willing to be patient, but I needed some type of sign that there was life on this part of the planet. Well, the type of life of which I was seeking. Fortunately, someone stepped down from their leadership role of a social enterprise group one month after my arrival to D.C. I took over leadership of an existing Meetup group which already had 1,000+ members.

 

At the time, the group had grown somewhat inactive and was called, “DC Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers”. I rebranded the group with a new name, purpose, logo, and pictures. Building on my success with the Princeton Impact Project, I decided to go with the geography-agnostic version, “Impact Project”. I launched the first event, Side Project Sundays, followed by a second Side Project Sundays.

 

Once General Assembly got wind of our meetups I received an invitation from the leadrship team to come into their DC headquarters for a meet and greet. They gave me a tour of their learning facilitatiess, and opened up an invitation for me to institutionalize my series as an ongoing offering General Assembly would sponsor and manage. Apparently, they were looking for ways to utilize their classrooms during the weekends.

 

General Assembly learned of the Impact Project’s momentum and reached out to offer exclusive use of their headquarters for our Side Project Saturdays meetup series. Now, GA hosts Side Project Saturdays globally.

 

If I wanted to bring the social enterprise methodology from Princeton, NJ to a new geographic region, how might I go about accomplishing such a thing?

Well, how did I do this part in Princeton? How did I put my feelers out to determine if there were others in the area interested in exploring these ideas together?

 

Georgetown Public Library has a network of locations throughout D.C.

 

Reflecting on how I validated my ideas via meetup.com in Princeton led me to follow a similar path. Prior to rolling anything out, however, I invested my first six months in D.C. as a new resident who prioritized sewing himself into the cultural fabric of the community. Ethnographic immersion

 

At first, i was hesitant to start a new group in D.C. simply because there already so many people doing so many things. I was willing to be patient, but I needed some type of sign that there was life on this part of the planet. Well, the type of life of which I was seeking. Fortunately, someone stepped down from their leadership role of a social enterprise group one month after my arrival to D.C. I took over leadership of an existing Meetup group which already had 1,000+ members. At the time, the group had grown somewhat inactive and was called, “DC Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers”. I rebranded the group with a new name, purpose, logo, and pictures. Building on my success with the Princeton Impact Project, I decided to go with the geography-agnostic version, “Impact Project”.

I launched the first event, Side Project Sundays, followed by a second Side Project Sundays.

Once General Assembly got wind of our meetups I received an invitation from the leadrship team to come into their DC headquarters for a meet and greet. They gave me a tour of their learning facilities, and opened up an invitation for me to institutionalize my series as an ongoing offering General Assembly would sponsor and manage. Apparently, they were looking for ways to utilize their classrooms during the weekends.

The event with General Assembly was a success, as you can see above. Here’s an interview with a business owner in attendance.

 

It was a nice little win to have under our belts when it came time to develop the next partnership. Now we had some “street cred” when it came time to develop a partnership with the next venue.

 

Founder’s Way is the name of the first experience I designed in partnership with WeWork.

Three days leading up to the event, I was prepping, decorating, and hand-making personal invitations for my fellow WeWork members. I wanted to create the perception, “This event better be cool – this guy’s been working hard.” WeWork hooked it up with the beer, wine, and refreshments.

 

The Thin Red Thread concept was something I had kept in my back pocket since 2011. It was on a TV show, and I said in that moment, “I am going to use that to inspire a group of people into action.”

 

Attendees received a handmade envelope upon entrance.

 

As we approached the end of the event, we huddled up for a chat. I asked everyone to open their envelopes. I began to read aloud.

 

Two weeks prior, I hired the photographer specifically because I wanted her to document a photostory that we could share later. I met a few times in-person with Anne leading up to the event so we could collaboratively design the event experience. She did a great job.

 

On October 11, 2014 I began to write. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had initiated a process known as a “knowledge dump”. For the next 23 consecutive days, I wrote for at least ten hours per day, compiling over 100,000 words. I found myself able to comprehend and articulate my discovery of an evidence-based social enterprise methodology that leveraged a unique ecosystem approach.

 

I went from, “Why me?” to “I am the one.” I went from no skills, no future, and no hope … to how will use meetup.com as an idea validation tool. I incrementally launched three microservices designed to improve the human experience.

 

I seemed to naturally acquire a fluency in building businesses that solve a social problem. Being that there were so many unsolved social problems…so many people without access to adequate opportunity… it ams sense to me that we would work together to figure out how build businesses that solved those problems.

I am in the business of helping people.

 

https://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/4890

 

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/10/what-are-corporations-for.html

 

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/february/nussbaum-democracy-humanities-020912.html

 

“We increasingly treat education as though its primary goal were to teach students to be economically productive rather than to think critically and become knowledgeable and empathetic citizens. This shortsighted focus on profitable skills has eroded our ability to criticize authority, reduced our sympathy with the marginalized and different, and damaged our competence to deal with complex global problems.”

 

“narrow, technically trained workers, rather than complete citizens who can think for themselves, criticize tradition and authority, and understand the significance of another person’s sufferings and achievements.”

 

Learning to question authority

 

Nussbaum quoted Socrates, who argued that democracy needs citizens who can think for themselves and reason together about their choices rather than just deferring to authority. Young people, Nussbaum said, will have a hope of holding politicians accountable only if they know how to think critically about what they hear, “testing its logic and imagining alternatives to it.”

 

participation in the arts sparks curiosity for the unfamiliar

 

In closing, Nussbaum reiterated that the arts and humanities not only “shape people who are able to see other human beings as full people with thoughts and feelings” but also build “nations that are able to overcome fear and suspicion in favor of sympathetic and well-reasoned debate.”

 

the number of high-school graduates underserved or unserved by higher education today dwarfs the number of people for whom that system works well. The reason to bet on the spread of large-scale low-cost education isn’t the increased supply of new technologies. It’s the massive demand for education, which our existing institutions are increasingly unable to handle. That demand will go somewhere.

 

 

Background

i discovered the ecosystem methodology as a result of reflective journaling. On Saturday, October 11th, 2014 I began to write. For 23 days in a row, twelve hours each day, I wrote. 100,000+ words later, it became clear that my experiences between 2009-2012 were in a unique order, while I was surrounded by particular mentors (Dean Matsuda being one of them), and I naturally leveraged the power of business to bring relief to social problems in the local community – starting with the social problems that previously prevented me from carving out a place for myself in the new economy.

Within 90 days of finishing my undergraduate requirements, two significant events took place. I filed the incorporation papers for my first business, and I was invited by the Chair of the English Department to design the curriculum for my own 16-week undergraduate course. As my peers spammed their resumes to compete for the same jobs, I had created my own.

Methodology 1.0

  • (insert initial five phases)

Methodology 2.0

  • Humanity: cultivate a deep sense of empathy
  • Community: ethnographic immersion to analyze latent, systemic issues
  • Incubation: create value to serve the unmet need
  • Impact: attach a business model

Methodology 3.0

  • Purpose
  • Problem
  • Product

Activities

  • Reflective Journaling
  • Experience Mapping
  • Feedback Loop
  • Discovery
  • Scoping
  • Sketching
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Service Design
  • Digital Product Design
  • Documentation

Assets

Services I previously provided as a consultant and professional service provider have been standardized to enable seamless scaleability.

  • Outline
  • Diagrams
  • Experience Maps
  • Methodology
  • Research
  • Curriculum
  • Journey Maps
  • Userflows
  • Wireframes
  • Sitemaps
  • Sequence
  • Abstracts
  • Case Studies (insights, course corrections, improvements, etc)

Assets provide a competitive advantage to organizations that adopt, and build-upon, the existing methods and frameworks.

Impact Project (2017)

  • Scaled the project from Princeton to Washington, D.C.
  • Impact Hub DC
  • My Brother’s Keeper
  • General Assembly
  • WeWork
  • Side Project Saturdays
  • Founder’s Way
  • Thin Red Thread
  • D.C. Mayor’s Office
  • D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development

Rutgers Honors College (2016)

  • Wrote the abstract for the $100 Million Honors College expansion (80 students →2,000 students)
  • Provided One-on-One Coaching & Mentorship to Matt Matsuda, Honors College Dean of the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences
  • First-Year Program for 500+ Honors Students/Year
  • Pedagogical reframing changed the fundamental principles governing how students matriculate at Rutgers
  • Living-learning community is now scaling to Newark and Camden Rutgers campuses

Impact Project (2015)

  • StartupU: I presented the first iteration of the methodology as a splash page marketing a bootcamp, but it was not successful in articulating the nuance of the ecosystem approach (include the screenshot of webpage)
  • Wolfpack: applying methodology to bring relief to a social problem
  • Cooperative Impact: launching New Jersey’s first-ever social innovation conference was a strategic decision (talk through the process of leveraging the conference as a tool to build a mentor network in preparation for connecting the postsecondary pipeline of youth)
  • Action Horizon Institute: postsecondary education pipeline program (documentation and investor updates made it easy for the Dean and I to walk through the step-by-step process and prepare an interdisciplinary guide that is being applied to programs across the country

 

On October 11, 2014 I initiated a process known as a “knowledge dump”. Ten hours per day, for 23 days in a row, I wrote, I sketched, and, over 100,000 words later, this version was ‘done’. I called it the social enterprise ecosystem methodology. It’s gone through many iterations, but this would represent my first intentional roll-out of an ecosystem with the hope of influencing the output of my community in a positive way.

 

WeWork, and other spaces like WeWork, are critical elements in cultivating healthy impact ecosystem. Both as a venue and convener, WeWork’s strong focus on community and the quality of social ties creates an inviting environment inspires thoughts such as, “I could turn my dreams into a reality right here at this WeWork location.”

 

In 2016, I brought my project from Princeton, NJ to Washington, D.C. 

 

I began my roll-out strategy similarly to how I did in Princeton, and it wasn’t long before existing members of the DC ecosystem reached out to me. General Assembly publicly advocated for my capabilities as an industry-recognized service designer, and, in doing so, attracted a few big fish like WeWork, My Brother’s Keeper, and the Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office.

 

IDEO selected me as one-of-five global design coaches for their design challenge, “Reimagining Higher Education.” I was journaling on IDEO’s open innovation platform, and my reflection piqued the interest of an IDEO evaluator, Kate Rushton.

 

Founder of New Jersey’s first-ever social innovation conference, Cooperative Impact.

Founder of the postsecondary education pipeline program, Action Horizon Institute. 

 

 

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