So this is a weekly review of what I’ve been doing this last week or so.
I work on three headings — where are we / me now? Where do I / we want to be? And, how do I / we get there?
Where are we / me now?
The beta release of our new (incentives) system is due out for testing in the next three weeks or so. Given that I’ve been working on this project since 2007, I can’t tell you just how exciting this is to me. I’m also back working with my old pal Andy Thomas who’s such an ace product designer/manager and all-round committed good guy, that I’m full to brimming right now.
We’re also looking at a new but temporary logo:
It’s only a placeholder until we get some money to pay a graphic designer to do a proper one, but it builds on the old one:
But anyhow, that’s not important right now. What is important is making sure that we’re prepped to migrate across from the old system /database, our 28 community groups, good causes and charities for whom we provide support services in the form of measuring, reporting and celebrating (contribution to community).
That work involves liaising with our-Andy (essentially our CTO), our-Kez (community dev manager) and our-Sonya (biz dev manager). Comms is the hardest bit but we’re getting there.
I’ve also been doing a lot of personal research around the nature of capital and the nature of wealth. I’m convinced that the world is transitioning away from financial capital (£££) to social capital (tokenised contribution to community) and that the impact investment market will support such a move SO LONG as there are standardisable outcomes that can be measured in a standardised way according to standardised definitions (of what good is and what it looks like). Also, “additionality”, but that’s a blog on its own.
Setting the standards for what good looks like is our collective USP we feel. It’s also going to become Stoke and North Staffs collective IP when we’ve figured out what all the component parts look like.
Because we support some of the most marginalised community groups in the whole of the UK, that deal with a mad variety of issues like human trafficking (Khai Tzedek), refugees (ASHA), young care-leavers (Progress 4U), homelessness (Number 11/Emmaus) and people with learning difficulties (Green Door) to name but a few, we feel blessed to be able to argue the toss that our definition of success, and the way it is measured, is INCLUSIVE.
It includes the excluded.
Which is at complete odds with the way success is currently measured. This is why success is so out of reach for so many people. Yep, it’s down to a definition. Well sod that, we’ve re-defined success to make it more accessible and more attainable to the ordinary people in the ordinary communities in the ordinary towns and cities that we the ordinary people inhabit.
So, what else do I need to share about where we are right now? Oh yes, and before I go on — here’s a photo of the books I’ve been scouring to deepen my understanding of the nature of capital, and value etc .
Social prescribing is something we’re pondering. In our mind this has to happen across the UK in some way or other. When it does, what’s going to happen to our local authorities? Ouch. Anyhow, what’s missing from SP is the business model / funding model. Who wants to pay community groups to deliver services? Who would trust an organisation with their personal data (not the government — check out the push back when Gtr Manchester went for a national identity card…years ago….a complete no-no; not the private sector either….) so that the dream of a whole-system approach can be realised by all the future of gov people. (Slight digression — I once sat in the office of the councils chief transformation officer who was situated in the social services department of said council and she drew on the wall their idea of a whole-system approach — police, ambulance, adult social, fire, children’s services etc etc — all working together with the ‘customer’ at the centre (as in personalised services) but I had to point out to her, that from the point of view of the person, it isn’t a ‘whole system’ until it includes stuff from the business community that recognises she has a life outside of the public sector e.g. clubcard points, or banking. Doh.
The project we’re planning will involve all the partners we’re working with right now. Having a plan that we’re all bought into is becoming exciting, particularly when it’s lead by ordinary people who are bought into the idea that the prize for us all at the end of the rainbow is a regeneration model that includes ordinary people thus opening up the ‘levelling-up’ and ‘inclusive growth’ agendas that seem to be the order of the day.
A bit like the ‘Preston Model’ but a) involving the private sector and b) being a model.
And, before you groan about on about me using those political slogans — whatever. We/I don’t care. We’ve been doing what we’ve been doing now for years, and will be doing so for years to come. We’re so politically neutral that we don’t care about the slogans cos we know that sustainable behaviour change — both individuals and organisations — is what’s needed, and the blues and the reds of this world can buy into that centre ground as much as they want. For us, it’s about defining success on our terms then persuading organisations of influence to back us by accepting that our definition and our measurements are simple enough for all of us to understand.
Where do we / I want to be?
Well my biggest challenge is juggling the here and the now (migration from a legacy system to a new system) with the future need to ensure that we’re organised for the long-term to continue to grow our following in a sustainable fashion. We need to manage our growth, and invest in it. It’s a continual battle to make the case for investment but we’re definitely getting better at that. It helps that we’re adamant that as much as is humanly possible is invested into Stoke and North Staffs so that the objects of our org can be delivered as soon as possible.
So we want to be investable. We want to re-distribute as much health, wealth and happiness as is humanly possible, in as short a time frame as is humanly possible in a way that is as sustainable as is humanly possible.
Might all sound a bit utopian but impact investment we think is one of the ways we can do that. The markets are after a transparent way of measuring outcomes of a social or environmental nature and we think we can help them do that. We think we can create a new asset class that can function as a store of value, a unit of account and a means of payment. We think that the markets are all over the place -highly over-valued- and after a safe haven that delivers sustainable returns over the very long-term. In other words, a community that makes community.
Now I know one or two of my more left-leaning peers might scoff at the idea that the markets can be a part of the solution, but frankly I don’t give a shit.
Social capitalism for me is the answer to our woes and a market economy that is regulated by we the people and not big business is something I think will do the trick. I don’t believe big-government — central or local- is the answer but i do believe that by giving ordinary people the tools needed to fix their own problems is the answer. More people-power less organisation-power.
So more successful is where we want to be. Even more successful than where we are now…
How do we get there?
I’ve covered most of this above. So, to keep it brief
- Migrate users from A to B
- Make a plan that builds on our partnership success thus far, probs around social prescribing but TBC
- Continue to refine our investment pitch/revenue model (SaaS) and boil it down to a dozen or so slides
- Begin to focus on the governance end of things — who gets to decide what we invest in? How to we make decisions? That sort of thing. (This is really R&D stuff)
- Keep working with the tech community that Andy’s in charge of — get them even more bought into what we’re doing and why
- Play to our strengths, and work as a team (thanks Jake Cliffe for a great weeks work)
And that’s it from me for this week.
Me, having finished this blog: