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Building the Future in Twelve Easy Pieces

The five– make that the twelve things you need to build an effective organisation for change:

  • The Values Piece: genuine care for people – desire to see the change happen, to make the world better rather than that your thing succeeds;
  • The Technical Piece: deep understanding of the problem at hand, and the specific skills you have to solve it;
  • The People Piece: your ability to work with customers, colleagues and others – to build rapport, to be able to identify and recruit the right people, to ‘make work meaningful and the worker productive’, to share vision, to model and encourage the right values and to correct the wrong ones;
  • The Business Model Piece: the understanding of how people will find, buy and use your product or service, what they might be prepared to pay for it in money and time, and how you will provide it to them repeatedly and sustainably;
  • The Financial Piece: understanding how money will arrive in the right places at the right time, and how it will be authorised and accounted for;
  • The Marketing Piece: your ability to communicate about your product or service with people who would benefit from it in such a way that they understand it and want it enough to pay for it, whether with money or time or effort or all three (the acid test for marketing: “If they knew what you knew, would they by happy they bought it? Would they tell their friends?”) ;
  • The Operational Piece: your ability to build an organisation with appropriate systems and management so that all its necessary functions (manufacturing, sales, delivery, payroll, contracts, legal registrations, reports, office management, fundraising) happen consistently and routinely, with minimal effort;
  • The Economics Piece: a wider understanding of how tradeoffs, incentives and markets work in the world, and the perils of high and low and ‘free’ price points, of subsidies and externalities;
  • The Technology and Innovation Piece: an understanding of how new technologies (in the broadest sense) and bundles of services are developed and diffuse through markets. If the thing you’re making is so important, why hasn’t it existed in the world before now, and what makes this time different?
  • The Systems Piece: understanding how all of the above fit together and interact as a complex adaptive system in the context of wider history and society. How did we get here? Where do we seem to be going? How do these different factors influence each other? Where are the positive feedback loops that we need to stimulate, and which unhelpful ones do we need to be careful to avoid?
  • The Fun and Energy Piece: How are you going to do this with joy and humility, in such a way that you can stay inspired, maintaining energy and enthusiasm (both yours and your teams) over the long haul, without getting distracted by frothy irrelevancies or burning out by trying to shoulder burdens that were never yours to bear?
  • The Stamina Piece: How are you going to withstand the necessary hits: the disappointments, criticisms and (seeming) betrayals, the failure and long, drawn out near failures, the boring and un-fun bits that you don’t want to do but that need to be done, and keep on going?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...