As you probably know, my book on creating sustainable, responsible, joyful, community-based businesses will be published in the Spring by Chelsea Green. I need some assistance from readers to finalize a title and subtitle, and to design the web tools that will accompany the book.
The original title for the book was Natural Enterprise. In discussions with another publisher and with my agent, the title morphed to Working Naturally: Discovering What You Were Meant to Do and How to Do It Responsibly, Sustainably, and Joyfully.
Chelsea Green has challenged me to revisit the original title (or something close: The Natural Entrepreneur) and to condense or change the subtitle to something shorter and punchier.
As the graphic above suggests, the book’s purpose is:
So what do you think — do you prefer Natural Enterprise, Working Naturally, The Natural Entrepreneur, or something else as the main title? And how would you shorten or change the subtitle to capture the gist in fewer words than my sixteen?
The three-part website accompanying my book will contain tools to help people (a) find their ‘sweet spot’, and people to make a living with, (b) share success stories and war stories of what has worked and what hasn’t, and (c) expose needs and ideas that might address them to ‘the wisdom of crowds’.
The first of these tools, Finding Natural Partners, would enable you to discover and share your ‘sweet spot’ with others — you could identify the Gift(s) and Passion(s) you have that are ‘on Purpose’. You could search for other people who share your Purpose and whose Gift(s) and Passion(s) complement your own — potential Natural Enterprise partners. You could discover what other people have identified as their Purpose and (if it resonated with you) make it your own. You could discover how Natural Partnerships had emerged in other communities, and replicate them in your own community.
The tool for doing this would have to be very simple, intuitive, and fun to use. Any complexity would have to be ‘buried under the hood’. It should also enable both virtual conversations and face-to-face meetings. It has to be more structured than a discussion forum but less structured than a form-filling exercise. The process of discovering your ‘sweet spot’ is iterative, so the process of using the tool has to be flexible and not tedious. I’m not even sure it can be ‘specified’ — it may have to evolve. Peer production, anyone? Should I set up a very simple wiki or some other tool to ‘talk through’ its design?
The second tool is the Natural Enterprise Community, and while it sounds like a forum, it’s actually more of a storybook. I foresee it being a place where people could tell their story, complete with moral (“remember to do this” or “don’t do that”), in the first person plural. Because I have never discovered a Natural Enterprise that’s a sole proprietorship, I will seed this with some collective success stories and some cautionary war stories about people who tried to do everything themselves. I’d like to offer a story template, but not impose it on anyone. Stories are valuable because they provide context through detail and specifics (so-called ‘best practices’ and ‘benchmarks’ usually oversimplify and sacrifice that essential context). We are all natural storytellers, and I just want to create a place where people can share their stories.
The third tool is the Natural Collaboratory. This is an ‘idea market’ with a difference — no money changes hands. It’s a place for people to float ideas, do some secondary research, and get a ‘crowd’ of prospective customers and coworkers to assess these ideas, and perhaps even serve as the launching pad for Open Source, Peer Production or Open Space activities to move these ideas forward.
I see this third tool as being more structured. Each idea should be based on some real, primary research that indicates there is an unmet need to be filled, and the need and the research needs to be spelled out, as context for the idea (and to avoid people just being lazy and posting their pet ideas without having done the homework, and to shut up people who just ‘black hat’ ideas by claiming there is no unmet need for them). But beyond that I can see the idea development as very collaborative, very conversational, going where it will, facilitated by some real-time Skype or other inexpensive technology to allow more iteration and rapid idea development than forums permit. This is not intended to be a vehicle for innovation — in most cases I think innovation needs more resources and energy than any online tool could manage. It is a vehicle for ideation — for thinking out loud about how identified needs might be solved, imaginatively, without getting sidetracked by the details of commercialization.
I am a little worried that people will be afraid to float ideas in case someone else steals them. The book explains that even great ideas are pre-commercial, and it is the innovation process that separates great ideas from great products and services. But some fear is inevitable. I am going to see whether we might use some kind of preemptive ‘idea registration’ process to preclude anyone taking a great idea and spending a fortune to patent every imaginable application of it. Ideas should always be free, and freely shared.
I’d welcome your thoughts on these tools. I don’t want anyone rushing ahead to prototype them, because they need to be collectively imagined and talked through first. I doubt that anyone will be able to make money developing them — my hope is that they will serve as ‘working models’ for other applications that need similar enabling processes and infrastructure.
They might even be among the first of a new generation of social networking tools that have actually been designed to meet a specific business need, so that unlike Web 1.0 and 2.0 tools they might actually achieve sustainedtraction in the business community. It’s worth a try.
So — title, subtitle, tool evolution — what do you think?
Category: Creating Natural Enterprises
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--- My Best 100 Posts --
Preparing for Civilization's End:
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Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
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What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
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Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
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Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
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What to Believe Now?
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Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
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Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
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So What's Next
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No Use to the World Broken
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The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
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Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
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Against Hope (Video)
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Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
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The Job of the Media
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The Illusion of the Separate Self:
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
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We Have No Choice
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