After speaking with active parties from the Power of Team Series, and following on from the sensing journey, we sensed the need to emerge the stories on experiments started by individual entrepreneurs, who may also be looking at forming teams.
Our intention with the Power of Entrepreneurs Series is to surface individual experiments across our ecosystem as well as making their key asks visible so as to support their journey and-or form a team.
We have co-created a guiding framework to facilitate the sharing of their journeys, as follows:
- A brief intro of your experiment vision, purpose and offering.
- What is your source of inspiration?
- What is the purpose of this experiment?
- How does this experiment manifest in your daily activities?
- What challenges did you face during the journey? How did you resolve them?
- What surprised you as being easy?
- What did you learn from the journey?
- What is your key ask to continue your journey?
We reached out to individuals that we were aware of. In this first episode, we would like to share two journeys, one from Wade, from Better World Spirits and other from Pam, from FASST.
Wade Keech — Better World Spirits
Better World Spirits is a Pennsylvania-based producer of artisanal canned cocktails. With a range of unique & attractive flavor profiles, Better World Spirits will tap into the new and growing canned cocktail market. Formed as a benefit corporation, with plans to support sustainable and urban agriculture, BWS is part of the movement to make a difference while making a profit.
I am driven by the belief that there is a higher purpose for business then profit and therefore formed as a benefit corporation. I believe that a corporation can make a profit and reduce environmental impact and eventually have a positive effect on Mother Earth. I also believe that social justice issues must be addressed by the corporation in order to create a more equitable society for all individuals.
Current business models and frameworks are a product of capital-driven, hierarchical organizations and are failing to create the disruptive innovation needed to address many of the challenges we face today. They are mechanistic, treating employees as replaceable cogs; in return many employees are neither happy nor fully engaged.
My goals are to contribute to progress towards creating a better future for all with a different type of organization to build effective product-services which serve society and Mother Earth. Simply put a company which can create these will be a more successful business and make a difference.
BWS conducted a successful equity crowdfunding campaign to raise the seed capital to launch the venture. It was challenging to educate potential investors on this new entrepreneurial tool before asking them to invest. It has also been very challenging to find individuals to be engaged in aspects of starting the venture who have a shared vision of creating something unique and different in the business world. I have learned to be flexible and patient and focus on the enjoying the journey and trust my intuition.
My key ask to continue the journey
To find individuals to be engaged in aspects of starting the venture who have a shared vision of creating something unique and different in the business world.
Pamela McLean — FASST
I was attracted to the Teal for Startups (T4S) community because of my involvement in something that had started small, had developed into various deep collaborations over the years, and looked set to take another leap forward. I wanted to be ready with appropriate organisational structures. I already had some awareness of Holacracy which I appreciated as a way of implementing flat organisational structures, with high levels of personal autonomy, and alignment of purpose. When I came across Teal ideas and read Reinventing Organisations I was pleased to discover its connection with Holacracy.
I was looking for an appropriate organisational structure to support the kind of work I do in informal collaborative initiatives and communities of purpose. Often people have useful skills they would make available if they could see how to offer them. Often initiatives that would benefit from additional skills are unable to find people, or they find them but are unable to use them effectively. Often people who want to collaborate around a shared purpose are frustrated by how long it takes to get started. These problems are common to various initiatives, not just the ones in which I’m active.
Barriers include lack of clearly defined needs, “induction challenges”, and lack of a common approach to “how things get done around here”.
It would be enormously helpful if there were some “cultural norms” for collaboration, a kind of “interpersonal operating system”, applicable in a wide variety of contexts, that individuals and groups could agree to adopt. This “operating system” would define needs in ways similar to Holacracy, i.e. a variety of roles needing to be energised. It would have clear accountabilities related to the roles. There would be defined structures and protocols to enable people to quickly get into effective collaborative relationships. That’s the idea behind the development of cultural norms called FASST (Freedom, Accountability and Structure for Systemic Transformation). If new collaborators are familiar with FASST culture, then it will be much easier for new teams to form and for people to quickly start working together effectively.
The collaborative initiatives of my experience have various characteristics in common with Teal organisations. People come together because of a shared interest in taking action for a particular purpose. They are used to doing their own thing. High personal autonomy is normal behaviour. There is no formal hierarchy in the collaboration, relationships and roles emerge through mutual respect and a desire to get things done.
People often come from very different perspectives and with different motivations, but the shared purpose means that each person is committed to putting in effort and furthering the purpose. In the collaborations that I know it is common for people to belong to different organisations or to none. Usually no money is exchanged (or if it is, that happens at a late stage when things have taken a different form). Lack of financial transactions means there is no need for a formal legal structure to define the collaboration. This is another reason for the informality and the need for a structure such as FASST.
I learned much through T4S, some related to its processes and some related to its intended product. I was particularly interested in its “behavior” as a globally scattered, ICT-enabled community of purpose. In my experience it is unusual to get people gathering in an online group with such a high level of sensitivity to the social dynamics of the group. It seemed to me this was because everyone in the self-selected group had a shared interest in what it meant to be Teal. The group was therefore trying to be Teal in its emerging practices. This meant that the group was well placed to accommodate members with different expectations and who had different cultural norms when they were outside of T4S.
I would like to continue my theoretical and practical learning about Teal within the T4S community. I’m continuing to apply, in my own collaborations, what I have been learning about the theory and practice of flat organisational structures.
I now try to be clear and open about my purpose in joining any collaboration, what roles I will take, what support I require, and what I will deliver. I’m finding this pays off in the way people describe (and appreciate) what I am doing. More importantly they are less likely to expect me to take on roles and tasks for which I am less suited and less motivated.
My challenge is that few people in my various current collaborations have a primary interest in organisational theory. It is natural for people to be more interested in specific projects (the purpose or product) than they are in the niceties of organisational structures (the processes). This is okay while the various initiatives are operating separately. It will be increasingly problematic as things connect up, as part of a bigger, integrated, long term project.
My key ask to continue the journey
I would appreciate help from the T4S group to help me explore and analyse the organisational landscape whose organisational practices are not yet aligned with Teal, drawing on the experience and wisdom of the T4S community.
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How to Participate?
If you would like to share your journey within the T4S community then fill this form to be considered in the next blog. This is also a great tool to help get support for your initiative by making your key ask visible.