Business ecology 101

February 4, 2006 § Leave a comment

San Franciso, USA

There is nothing like an honest day of business coaching from a room full of kindred spirits, especially when that’s not what you’re expecting.


Lee Davis and Johnathan Peizer had pulled together an informal meeting of people doing hands on work at the nexus of technology + social enterprise + scaling. Grameen USA Tech Centre. Shuttleworth Foundation. TechSoup. Intel emerging markets. And, of course,

We’d all imagined a fairly general conversation, rolling through case studies from the past and sketching out some general models. Instead, a common model snapped into focus almost immediately: we are all building or investing in networked social enterprises that rely on multiple players, mutual self interest and concrete value. While it probably doesn’t mean anything if you weren’t in the room, the diagram we all layered our projects on looked something like this …


Having a common framework early on made it possible spend the bulk of the day looking at the future instead of the past. Each of us presented a current challenge in our work, and the others provided tough questions and ideas. On a very specific level, this helped me to refine thinking on the services R+D fund we’re imagining in the new business plan. It also surfaced some common success factors: the right investment tools at the right time; business planning support and mentoring that comes along with any cash investments; passionate, entrepreneurial people.

While we all left with more questions than we started with, it felt like we’d moved an important conversation forward. It’s a conversation we all plan to continue.

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