Mixing Stone Soup and Lean Startups for Social Change

A few months ago, Linda Henry asked me to speak at this year’s HubWeek Conference on my civic work. Specifically, she asked me to share my methodology for creating new civic initiatives that promote social change as part of their new, Change Makers track.

I have never given the notion of my particular methodology for civic entrepreneurship much thought until she asked about it. It forced me to try to frame and articulate the playbook I have used to co-found a few civic projects in recent years, specifically:

  • Hack.Diversity: to attract more minorities into the tech industry
  • Global EIR to secure visas for immigrant entrepreneurs
  • The Alliance for Business Leaders to galvanize business leaders to formulate and advocate for progressive policies
  • Lawrence Leads: to provide a leadership training platform for cross-sectoral leaders from the very diverse City of Lawrence

Yesterday, I delivered my brief talk. The basic message is that the recipe for tackling big social issues is to blend Lean Startup principles (customer discovery, design thinking, create an experiment, build an MVP, iterate then scale) with the children’s parable Stone Soup (the power of the individual to contribute to a greater whole — if only they will give willingly). Hopefully, it will be of use to other aspiring civic entrepreneurs.

Mixing Lean Startup with Stone Soup