There is no shortage of debate about definitions of open organisations and how to apply the open source way to new ventures or products or use it to transform existing ones; all of us active in this domain clearly stand on the shoulders of a typically 21st Century, rhizomatic giant, spawned by the contributions of all those who saw how the logics generated in open source tech movement could fuse into the everyday – into the hardware of products, the orgware of organisations, and everyday life. As we’re about to launch an Open Venture Accerelator, we thought we should state our own working definition of what Open means for Venturing…
What follows below, as ever, is of course an invitation to debate. What do you think – the right starting points? Incomplete?
First of all we talk about radical transparency – because, like we said before, we believe in ‘social by open.’ See the potential disruptive genius of Fairphone – co-invested in by our friends at BGV — who are attacking the socially unjust & environmentally destructive dirty secrets of the smartphone industry by making their own smartphone. By being absolutely transparent about where their raw materials come from, they aim to force better working practices right across the industry. A great social-by-open start-up story – but equally, radical transparency applies to tax behaviour, remuneration, ownership, political lobbying – as Indy Johar explained in his draft for an Open Limited Sector. Now that the public sector seems increasingly unable to regulate the globalised private sector, leading to scandals like ‘horse meat’ or atrocities like the Bangladesh clothing factory collapse, mass citizen scrutiny is required – and companies that are voluntarily open should benefit from greater legitimacy and other advantages. (and of course it’s not just large corporates to whom this applies – let’s also talk about the cooperative sector, or charities, or social enterprise – the deep impact they are or aren’t able to generate, the pay packages etc).
So Hub Launchpad seeks to create and support ventures that have radical transparency at the heart of everything they do – who don’t see it as the chore of annual disclosure but about an intrinsically beneficial real-time attitude. (And we’re looking to work with organisations that can help the start-ups or intrapreneurs make this into a reality in ever-better ways).
Secondly, of course this is about the open source way – sharing the intellectual property of hardware, software and orgware in ways that invite re-use and application elsewhere, modification and re-sharing. In the Compendium for the Civic Economy, Hub Launchpad co-founders 00 [zero zero] discussed how for many civic ventures, whether local renewable energy initiatives, edible public space movements or micro-fabrication facilities, scaling does not always mean ‘growing’ – it means enabling proliferation of local ideas by enabling others to adopt & adapt them locally. These are powerful ways in which the open source ethos is fuelling the everyday world of civic initiative and changing public service models. The same is true, clearly, for the incredible growth in open hardware.
For Hub Launchpad, this also means – sharing our approach to acceleration (detailed programme to follow soon!) as well as our performance data. If others can replicate – or improve on – our platform approach to acceleration, bring it on!
Thirdly – we talk about open participation – in many ways. It’s no secret that the key to most business’ success lies in curating and honing an open fringe – like Umair Haque and many others have noted, participative communities of customers are integral to the reinvention of corporates like Nike+, Lego as well as the success of startups. And equally, that cultivating open edges is key to innovation is shown clearly by Unilever’s challenges & wants amongst many many others. But how to create genuinely reciprocal systems of participation? The open investment trajectories long pioneered by coops and brought within reach for many by e.g. the micro-renewables investment site Abundance Generation are one example; enabling local sharing of strengths and skills in new care models like Keyring, FutreGov’s Casserole or Southwark Circle are another, opening up the traditional provider-client relationship.
What all this implies – is open leadership. Henri Fayol, the early 20th Century French engineer and management guru-avant-la-letttre described the six primary functions of management as being: forecasting, planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling – logically underpinning a leadership style that was hierarchical, authoritative and disempowering for those in lower echelons. Open ventures require (and are already showing) a different approach. Hub Launchpad is an accelerator for the open venturing community seeking to build a disruptively better world. Read more about us here — and consider yourself invited!