Second iteration has gone relatively well. Though connection to Gerald Walker at Bloomberg Ventures has been lost (and he was the first person I met after 25th April’s birthing), and Robert Bennet at Haringey Adult Education seems to be a little lacklustre, I have had a series of engagements with people which have been rather exciting. Consequently I feel I am getting better at articulating what I am up to across a range of sectors and framing the particular aspects of ecological economics.
high quality engagements
The primary vector is in the marketing and advertising industry. Spoke to The Future Factory, who appear to be playing around with similar business methodologies — they broker the relationship between agencies and new clients. They approach new clients to find out more accurately what problems they face, and they then translate this to their agency in order to produce a bespoke campaign. That is, they occupy the boundary between these companies. Dan at the Future Factory couldn’t quite see what ecological economics was, and did not see the benefit of my observation that they should not be attached to particular agencies, but instead broker relationships between clients and agencies, suiting up appropriate parties responsively — that is, strategically occupying the middle ground rather than as an extension of a specific agency. The reason for their current set-up, of course, is that they are paid by the agency thus deriving financial security.
Had two points of contact with Z/Yen, a financial sector think tank and consultancy. Michael Mainelli was generous and warm, and we mostly focussed on his book The Price of Fish which had some remarkable insights around the financial mensuration of environmental responsibility, something they call Long Finance, and many interesting if not awkward questions eg how government should start thinking about deriving tax from internet traffic, ie tax? In the end, I was only able to hint at ecological economics, and I really wanted to pass on Pam’s observation of mttp as a time-machine — what happens to relationships and money at the “top end” of mttp when we are dealing with eg £100m for a millennium — surely this was Long Finance at its finest? But I am not practiced with standard freelance work practices, which essentially boils down to “look out for your own”, and so his offer to keep me in the loop by inviting me to events is nice but does not further things directly. One day I shall be faced with the problem Michael faced with me, which manifests as a reluctance to actually examine new things; this takes time and effort, and essentially, is a complex task if done responsibly.
The conversation with Nick from Z/Yen was totally different, with an argument ensuing towards the end. It came down to a straight confrontation — what do you do when faced with something you do not understand? Dismiss it, or examine it? I said I required people to seriously engage with it, for the first people who do will be ahead of the game. They will be trend-setters, the first in a new field of economics. Nick said he would look at it in August with the potential — should the subjective-enumeration-
In Edinburgh, I had a second engagement with Ken Dixon from Newhaven, a creative agency, and it went very well. We talked a little about where I was with ecological economics, more specifically about the state of virals, and then offered a specific idea which he liked a lot. We talked about money and he said he would talk to his partners the following day. If the idea generates significant moneyflow, it shall be the first, and how appropriate since the idea emerged between Harriet and myself when we were considering Amber — the inspiration for ecological economics in the first place! One can’t write this material — it’s got to be lived! But… he has not got back to me over the following week, but I put this down to crap virtual engagement — our real world engagement is strong. I also spoke to a couple of other agencies, one of whom was willing to meet without even an email or site visit; the words that caught him were “shifting from company push to client pull”. Another very interesting, high quality engagement, even though I admit I am only a visitor to their industry and I do not wish to take over a position in their company or compete against them as another creative company. I feel confident I can do this with London ad agencies in September, if there is a need.
Also had a very high quality engagement with Sarah Deas, chairperson of Co-operative Development Scotland. Framing this conversation was quite a trick, and I think we did pretty well. I made it plain that the problem with the entrepreneurial scene is noise, and the tendency for the money to follow the “talkers” and those who can fit the tender-commissioning process best. All that I asked for was that what I presented and who I was had enough quality to justify further engagement, specifically an invitation to meet with others to test the protocols and algorithms. I feel confident about speaking to executives, individuals in positions elevated enough to be able to see the bigger picture. Usually such people can not bring themselves to look at small scale investments and projects, because they are essentially employed to make decisions about the whole organisation, which involves millions of pounds. The scalability of traditional business is built into the hierarchical structure which is static (at least people hold positions for years, and roles often last for decades), which means that sensitivity to present conditions, receptivity and responsivity is sluggish.
Had useful engagements with Dug, a lawyer who is diving into the entrepreneurial world after just conducting an mba, Lynne and her friend’s children who are graduates, and Sofia and Mamading of London Creative Labs — who actually use action cycles in their programme. The potential for graduate “training” in ecological economics, generating revenue as they go along, is high. A good way forwards is to anchor it to some council service, eg Haringey or Lambeth, offer a scalable accreditation system of collaborative entrepreneurialism, employing Mozilla Open Badges technology. The money comes not from the council, but from the companies we produce value for, which results in greater revenue for them. I’ve touched base with Darius of the Spring Project, and we hope to connect at the end of August.
five strategic fronts
So, there are five fronts to ecological economics right now. First and foremost is the engagement with the ad and marketing industry by way of selling ideas or “adverts”, the potential methodology of aligning to genuine social viral movements to be mutually beneficial for social artists, companies, and social services, and leading to macropatronage, a real game changer. This hangs on my engagement with Ken, Craig, and any other ad agency guru that can make use of my services. Objective: sell a couple of ideas, see them being implemented, and accumulating value in terms of the agency itself, specifically quality product/service improvement and new revenue generation; this translates as mttp contract of £100-day per week or £1k-week per season.
Second is the grounding of the financial protocols by professionals, especially getting the stamp of approval from Michael with respect to his Long Finance enterprise. This mostly hangs on my engagement with Nick and Michael and their connections. I have also started to connect with Michael from Nesta. Objective: serious examination, feasibility funding, introduction to high level players; this translates as mttp contract of £100-day per week or £1k-week per season.
Third is the graduate program, which involves attracting switched on people to actively pick up the ecological economics business methodology and implementing it directly. That is, a few people coallesce around specific gems, and turn them into revenue in ludicrously short periods of time. This hangs on Lynne, a genuine entrepreneur rather than a book-read or theory-driven one, and London Creative Labs, and perhaps Robert at Harringey, and Darius of the Spring graduate programme. I’ve tentatively named this the “Up-Grad”. Objective: scalable accreditation program implemented in council and at entrepreneurial hubs, attracting graduates and otherwise who are trying to find jobs; this translates as £100-day per week depending on third party investment.
Fourth is executive engagement. It is important I get meetings with individuals with high enough elevation to get the ideas and myself on the radar; as far as I can tell, they are in a position of being able to see the global landscape currently and over the next decade or so. Thinking of chairs of organisations like Nesta, Unltd, Boris the Mayor, Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver, Tesco Head, etc. Objective: initial meeting facilitated by results in the field, followed up by high level action cycle with a final long term objective of seeing sea and mttp implemented by google; this translates as £100-day per week by locating the various ecological economics initiatives in their respective geolocations.
Fifth, is the actual network, which we can call confluence collective, of everyone participating to generate moneyflow. This includes the graduates, unemployed, self-employed, adult-learners, hub-members, and everyone who is starting to adopt mttp and dmp financial protocols as a collective. This means that the tracking of money flow must be sorted out, something a little better than the google docs I have set up so far. Objective: revenue generation from converting ecosquared gems ploughed into people who can improve the actual logistics of ecological economics; translated as dmp in the order of £100 per week.
I need to secure moneyflow. From any one of the fronts mentioned above. This is imperative. The value is obvious now, money should start to flow, which means a corresponding increase in implementation so we can make some headway towards some of the more lofty ecological economics mechanisms such as macropatronage — which promises to be a real game changer in social media and business. But we need evidence now.
These current iterations follow from the birthing event on the 25th April 2012, since I am working on ecosquared full time. I can see a third iteration which needs to generate moneyflow and palpable value during september. Whether this works or not, I do intend to write up ecological economics as a book. I had hoped to write up a descriptive account during August but an environment with children is not conducive to considered thinking and contemplative writing. I then wanted to embark upon a more narrative account, a partial fictionalisation of what has happened and projecting the ideas as they may manifest over the next few years. I am setting myself a year to write this.
And a parting thought. I met Gerald from ball of dirt during the birthing period of ecosquared back in April, and he re-entered my mind recently. I had created a website in 2009 called takingthestand.org which was an attempt to seed the idea of going to eg Maldives and offering our futurist processes — if there is a need for solutions anywhere in the world, it is on islands which are threatened by flooding due to global glacial melt. It is the first time I have revisited the idea, and now equipped with financial protocols, I’d like to see if Gerald can see the potential for this. Anyone fancy a working holiday on the Maldives for a year…?
Think of the unemployed workers during depression who crowded against the gates to the docks and at factories, and being chosen for the day. It’s a bit like that, but more proactive. What if the hub was a space where clients came, engaged over a period of time, and left with the team assembled to achieve a specific objective, traditionally understood as a project? That is, the client leaves with the contract for a first iteration from people who assemble uniquely at that time. That is, there was no company to start with and participants self-organise to converge and align towards a specific target.
Which means we are breaking down the notion of a company. The way to enable this space is to have certain enabling “mechanics” or “articulations” which facilitate the quick alignment of individuals to put forward a proposal, or indeed create a prototype. An action cycle does this (action cycle transform), which is conducted at the boundary of a traditional company. A purely networked version of this is what we are talking about here, with only self-selecting diagonal players crystalising around a single player’s intention. What are the “ligaments”, or “weak attractive forces”, that enable this kind of social manifestation, specifically a client being happy with the team assembled to create the prototype?
- high degree of opportunistic mindset of participants: open-mindedness
- contracted to be “open” for 30% of their time, devoting 70% of their time to their own projects
- open meetings where clients are invited, and they co-create with the available hub members to scope a gem
The objective of the hub is that it is primarily a social space where business is conducted at a deeper level than we are accustomed to in a market. Markets are loud as participants compete to attract attention to themselves, creating a pulling-apart or taking energy. The articulations provided by the members of the hub (financial protocols, social ligaments, physical mechanisms, mindful practices) enable a high-trust framework, where people pull together, the energy being informed by generosity and giving, evolving a truly collaborative space.