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AndriusKulikauskas: This is my interpretation of JohnCaswell's work, see GroupPartners.

March 4, 2004

I share my thoughts on John Caswell's Business Equation, and a diagram. I conclude with thoughts on building "corporate mirrors", which I'm discussing with John and his Group Partners. Please let me know of your thoughts and interest. I'm particularly interested in leveraging our OpenPeople network http://www.voght.com/cgi-bin/pywiki?OpenPeople Also, I'm working with Mark Roest of OneVillage.Biz to think through how to set up the online structure for supporting these types of open network activities. We'd like to make that a shared resource. My own instinct is to pursue a design that is distributed, eclectic, low tech, multi-site, multi-channel, completely open, public domain content, social protocol. Andrius, http://www.ms.lt, ms@ms.lt

I was very intrigued by the 11 questions that constitute the Business Equation (by John Caswell of Group Partners http://www.grouppartners.net ). I found them in Jonathan Priest's article "Putting a New Perspective on Business" http://www.creative-writer.com/reports/BusinessPerspective2.pdf and I took to study them. I noticed some internal structure, and drew on my experience working with structures. I noticed relationships that I've seen elsewhere, for example, in the Ten Commandments, and so I drew a diagram of my understanding of the Business Equation.

It looks like there are questions that we ask to help us find OUR OWN answers for deciding Why (goals and values), How (strategy and tactics), What (resource management) and Whether (risk management). Why-How-What-Whether is a foursome at the root of knowledge taxonomies (although materialists tend to dismiss Why, and idealists tend to dismiss Whether).

Then there are questions that we ask to help us reach out to others who have THEIR OWN answers. In particular, they have different answers for deciding Why (otherwise They are We!) Yet we can reach out and work with the answers that we do share. At a minimum, we share Risk Management, even hijackers and SWAT teams do, if we are going to have an exchange. The whole point of business is to reach out to people who don't have the same thinking, the same answers, that we do. If we consider what we share, and what we don't, then we have six pairs from the four levels. The diagram helps me think of different approaches. At our lab, I start by looking for the value that all of us independent thinkers share, "caring about thinking", and our shared goal of fostering that. So that defines WE for our purposes. But not everybody cares much for that. However, we can work with others who share our strategy, which is working openly. They may have different goals, but if they share our strategy, we can invest in each other. (What expected yields?) This is more than enough to invest in an initiative, which may or may not come to make sense as a business.

Next, there are those who may not share our values/goals or strategy/tactics, but are willing to share resources, and manage them together. These are people with whom we exchange services, and who are our best customers. In our case, they are people who find our lab members to be attractive workers, self-directed, self-managing, self-educated, understanding-of-others, and so they give us work, which we take opportunistically. Here we can get income, but it seems that a service company is generally just an operation that can be folded in, formally or informally. There are no distinct channels here.

Finally, we can reach out to those who don't even want to manage resources together, and simply are willing to work together to manage risk, which is to say, to have a one-time exchange, which they can enter and exit. Here we have a self-standing business, with a self-standing product, and channels for distributing that product, and a need for those channels to sustain themselves. Perhaps our lab's product will be to reach out to include hard-to-reach independent thinkers.

Our lab may or may not become such a "business". Not every initiative needs to. But it's also possible to start just selling a product, and then worry about services and channels, and finally think about the big picture issues: investors, best customers, channel needs.

A vibrant activity will, I imagine, work in parallel on all levels. This kind of picture is helpful for organizing "corporate mirrors". We can invite people to openly answer these questions, and create an open archive for a network of initiatives around the world. At our lab, Natalie d'Arbeloff has inspired a questionnaire What do I really care about? which helps flesh out our own answers. The Business Equation goes beyond that to consider how we might reach out to others who have their own answers.

At the heart of the Business Equation is the "Big idea" and "Value proposition" which, I imagine, serves to connect OUR ANSWERS with THEIR ANSWERS.

It becomes quite interesting, how do people outside want to reach into the corporation, and what does the corporation know about the people outside that it wants to reach out to? I appreciate thoughts, and also, what might be first steps we could take in organizing a corporate mirror. What would be most important? Who could we serve?

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