The Start-Up Chronicles: Chapter 2. Who, Part 2

My Idea’s Unhidden Agenda, also known as, Work-For-Attribution, and how I hope it will attract community members and contributors – the Who.

Imagination: Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Leaders create things that didn’t exist before. The do this by giving the tribe a vision of something that could happen, but hasn’t (yet).

You can’t manage without knowledge. You can’t lead without imagination.

Tribes, Seth Godin

idea - who
idea - who
Trying to avoid my own Groundhog Day

As written in my Part 1, I needed to find a way build on my lessons learned and try my best to avoid repeating any errs of the past. But even more than needing a way to attract members to my new tribe, I needed to find a way to give them an environment where they could go beyond simple contributions. I needed to find a way for them to build their own opportunities, own quests and maybe even their own tribes.

The Unhidden Agenda

So a little while back, I came up with the following for my collaborators:

How to make this viral
I was also wondering how to make this a community project where we could create the engine and enable/empower other communities to use/build/extend it for purposes we haven’t yet considered, or, may simply not be in our domain of expertise.  In other words, make it “viral”.

This is what I’ve come up with so far
The core engine – to be defined later, is the center of our community.  If you’ve read Seth Godin’s Tribes then you already know that every community needs a leader.  That would be me – Steven Milstein.  And while this is not a democracy, that certainly doesn’t mean that I won’t hear & listen to the members of this tribe.  Now that may sound harsh but, please hear me out – I’m not finished yet.

Since you’re here reading this, then I’m going to guess that you like the idea, or, appeal of leading – maybe even a tribe of your own.  It may not be today, but someday in the foreseeable future.  If this is not the case, then I deeply encourage you to give this some thought.  Because what I’d like to see is each of us exploiting this opportunity to seed own tribes with this core engine.

Unhidden agendas
What I’d like is for each of us to create an entry here with our Unhidden Agenda.  Describe what it is you hope to gain by investing your time, energy, maybe money, in this venture?  (Don’t tell what you can, or, cannot invest.) You have to be honest & you have to be passionate.  Once approved/agreed upon, this Agenda will then represent your social contract to this endeavor.  Break your Agenda, break your contract – you’re out.

I’m not dead certain about this idea & am certainly open to your feedback.  But until then, I think this Unhidden Agenda Model will scale & encourage others to not only participate but contribute.  And if we truly believe in outside-in agile/scrum software development & we strive to maintain the integrity of the core engine then each of us should be able to fulfill our agenda.

For example
My (Steven’s) Unhidden Agenda will elaborate on how I’d like to be the product manager/owner of some leading edge social software product. I’ll go on to say how I want to use this endeavor to prove that I can not only be just that but, also have a touch of vision and more importantly, that I deliver.  I’d also like to boast about the community/communities I seeded and onboarded to social software.

I imagine [Retail IT Guy/Gal] ‘s entry will focus on their retail domain of expertise & how they would like to cultivate their own tribe.

For [Software Engineer Guy/Gal], I can see them seizing the opportunity to build the core engine in their own technical fashion and then sharing & expanding its APIs with the technical community of this growing social network.

Next steps
As I said earlier, this is not written in stone but I would like to find a way to make this more than three guys who live in Montreal.  If we’re all somewhat comfortable with this approach, then here’s what I see happening next:
1. Work & finalize on our agendas
2. Get to work on building a simple proof-of-concept
3. Start blogging about what we’re doing here & post your Unhidden Agenda
4. Find & contribute to your related communities
5. Seek feedback from others & maybe ask a select few join us in our Community
6. Invite some of those to publicly blog their own Unhidden Agenda in the hopes of gaining admittance to this exclusive community – exclusivity matters. (If you believe Seth Godin.)

My back of the napkin “Work-For-Attribution Agreement”

While I originally sought a lawyer’s opinion about the Idea’s monetization possibilities, I was immediately told not to proceed without securing my copyright and ownership of “said” Idea. And that’s when I had visions of Groundhog Day. To be very clear. I did not then, nor do I now, have any money. I did not then, nor do I now, have the time, nor the resources to expend on fantasies and illusions of gazillion dollar exit strategies. This is my Reality Check. (By the way, if you click on any of the links that lead to Amazon and actually buy the book, then I get something back – although I quite honestly don’t even know that that is yet, through their Associates program.)

So as of today’s date, this is the best I can offer:

Whatever work you contribute will be considered “work made for hire” and for whatever reason that may not hold up, then the agreement will be considered a “copyright assignment” from you to my company – Milstein & Associates Inc.

Sounds harsh, eh? But, it is what it is. I’ll post this digital back of the napkin version in the Idea’s community site so folks can sign up – at least in the digital sense.

Now in lieu of any payment, what I hope to do – subject to lawyer approval, is offer an Attribution for your contributions. Something like movie credits, or, if you open Adobe Reader, click on the Help, About, Credits button – for starters. Ideally, as stated in the Unhidden Agenda, I would have to provide a mechanism and venue for folks to discover and explore your contributions, maybe even for you to start your own tribe.

Up next – The Community Venue

My next post will be about the Idea’s Community site and who would be its target audience.

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4 Replies to “The Start-Up Chronicles: Chapter 2. Who, Part 2”

  1. I cannot claim clear understanding of the concept and proposition described in this post. Open Source development of software is a common place, but even after many experiences with the products and businesses based on it, I still have no clarity of what is and what is not, constitute pure collaboration.

    The true challenge of building a tribe, in my opinion, is to find people who are pre-disposed to share in value and passion for your mission. Formulating the messages for communication of a truly new concepts is very difficult as a dictionary, tags, keywords are still quite amorphous and people are overloaded by information (?).

    1. Gregory,

      This is not open source development. As a matter of fact, quite the contrary. Take a look at Why the FSF gets copyright assignments from contributors.

      FSF requires that each author of code incorporated in FSF projects provide a copyright assignment, and, where appropriate, a disclaimer of any work-for-hire ownership claims by the programmer’s employer.

      In my case, I’m offering folks attribution for their work that contributes to the common goal. I’m offering a venue. For example: I may have the requirements for a user interface but lack specific user experience/ interface design and development skill-sets. There may be someone out there who currently has great ideas and talent but lacks the opportunity to implement them. If that someone believed in the cause/project then they could contribute & have their name among the credits.

      As far as communicating new concepts is concerned, I agree – it’s difficult. Especially if you try cranking out volumes of Word documents, or, wiki pages which are completely unconsumable. In our case, we’ve been successful following the outside-in agile/scrum software development methodologies where we break things down into small time-boxed deliverables. This enables us to quickly validate / flesh-out our theories without being married to documents that quickly become obsolete. I understand not all environments can be Agile.

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