Your Activity is Your Currency

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At Epic we’re introducing Epicredits as a currency to help you reward and accomplish what matters to you. You can signup now to start collecting and get notified when it’s live later this year.

For those who want to learn more, read on…

Epic is based on the realization that more and more of what we do produces a signal in the cloud. Whether it’s a tweet, a document update, a blog post or a bookmark there’s a record of it somewhere. In fact, when someone is trying to get your attention, even if it’s a simple as clicking a link, it’s a share of your activity that they want.

Of course, not all activity is of equal value. We believe it’s most valuable when it helps accomplish something that matters or when it leads to more activity in the future. In other words, it’s most valuable when it helps build a better future, sooner.

Epicredits wrap those two threads into a single currency, like this: 1) As you do your work on the web, you’ll collect Epicredits for your activity; 2) You’ll earn more for activity that’s related to something that matters or leads to more activity in the future; and 3) You’ll get to use your Epicredits to reward and encourage others to accomplish what matters to you.

While we’re still in development, if you are interested, you can get a headstart building your currency at We’ll also notify you when the currency goes live later this year.

Our activity is our currency. Let’s invest it in building a better future sooner. Let’s make it epic!

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Lessons in systemic entrepreneurship. The time is now.

Late last fall I had the opportunity to conduct an intensive review of the Vartana initiative on behalf of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.  Vartana was an initiative to create a chartable bank in Canada dedicated to serving the voluntary sector. It held the promise of changing the availability of capital for the sector and as a Schedule I chartered bank, influencing the Canadian financial services industry. While ultimately felled by the financial services collapse of 2008, it holds some valuable lessons in entrepreneurial pursuit of systemic change.

In brief, the key lessons learned were:

  • Systemic interventions amplify strategic vulnerabilities
  • Ideation is the missed opportunity in systemic entrepreneurship
  • Communication is a critical organizing capacity

To put it simply, systemic entrepreneurship is, well, really stinkin’ hard. The path is more ambiguous, the context more complex, and resistance greater. It tests the entrepreneurial process to its fullest. If I look to my own entrepreneurial experiences, communication was always the ultimate core infrastructure. But the more systemic the aims, the riskier the initiative and the longer and more iterative the ideation process. It’s in those areas that entrepreneurial self-destruction most show their face.

From the Vartana experience, I found:

Vartana demonstrates that initiatives seeking systemic change require both adequate investment in up front ideation and strategy formulation and an infrastructure that has the capacity to respond commensurately to systemic resistance and volatility.

More broadly, I pressed the issue of entrepreneurial infrastructure:

…entrepreneurial infrastructure is not to be confused with conventional governance models that focus on executive limitation. Rather it should be designed to enable proactive and focused attention to governance, strategy, and execution. It must enable founding contributions from many; leveraging instead of hampering what are traditionally seen as conflicted roles like founder and funder. It must enable entrepreneurs to do the impossible in an environment that is flexible, yet that has the capacity and rigour to address the scale of the challenge at hand. It must create a space that nurtures meaningful engagement, rapid iteration and routine reflection, and transparent decisionmaking that remains grounded in achieving the intended impact with optimal levels of investment.

It reminds me a lot of what I’ve since read in The Power of Pull by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison of Deloitte’s Centre for Edge. Even the sub-line “How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion” echos of systems thinking and social innovation.

Which brings me to my final point. As we pay attention to the systems of our society and find whatever we are working on increasingly influenced by changes in those systems… we elevate ourselves out of traditional sectoral silos. This isn’t an issue isolated to commercial, social, government or civil sectors. It’s an issue about our future and particularly those intent on creating a better future, sooner.

So, whether you buy into the Big Shift, the Great Reset, the Macropocalypse, the Macroshift, the Great Remix, or just think “we’re screwed”, the time is now. It’s about our future. Don’t wait. Try. Reflect. Share. Repeat.

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Social Innovation @ Ivey

Quick post to share today’s presentations for Social Innovation @ Ivey.

First is my opening intro, which pulls from a core theme but adds a little more about my history and the levels, forms, and tools of social entrepreneurship  – or my best simplification of them.

The second, is a for a last minute stand-in role on the social finance workshop.  Thankfully the wise and gracious Karim Harji of shared this great, detailed deck.

As always, I’m looking forward to talking with students and trying to inspire them to go do out and do some good.

Inspiring students. What would you tell them?

I’m scheduled to open the Social Innovation @ Ivey Form and have been asked to get the audience of students ‘fired up’ about social entrepreneurship and innovation. What would you tell them?

They are currently deciding on which electives to take and of course what career path to take – a big part of why I love doing these talks. I’ve been asked to tell my story, touch on social entrepreneurship and social finance and have 30 minutes to do it.

Earlier this year I gave the presentation below. It generated some good feedback but I felt like it missed the mark. Any suggestions appreciated. How would you get them moving toward #socent?

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Twitter and the emerging medium for change -> “What are you doing?”

Twitter is giving rise to the most accessible, participatory public medium in history. The implications for social change, innovation, and entrepreneurship are huge but hardly explored. In the coming paragraphs I explain what I see and call out to you, to all, to help surface what’s happening and understand how it can help us create the world we want. I care because we need change like never before. If that matters to you too, please read, comment, and share. Let’s see where this goes.

dawn flare

What’s going on with Twitter (now at over 32m users – up from just 1.6m a year ago) is the emergence of a new medium based on the public micro-message – the most accessible, participatory public medium in history.

Think about it. That’s huge.

It’s the potential for 4B people to post, read, and respond to each other. Neither TV, radio, telephone, email, or the web have the same potential in terms of accessibility and participation.

Enabled by its ‘micro’ (140 character) and ‘public’ attributes, the medium fosters a communications DNA that makes it a hotbed for interest-driven sharing, discovery, connections and spontaneous collaboration. Being micro, it is also SMS compatible making it work with the most distributed communication technology we have – the mobile phone.

Social change is about people, engagement, and systems. Already, examples in citizen journalism and fundraising demonstrate some of the unique potential for real-time communication and spontaneous collaboration.  #mumbai and #hudson, broke news and photos of the Mumbai terrorist attacks and the crash landing of a United Airlines flight on the hudson river well before any other media were able to report it. #daniela raised $16,000 for a needy family in less than a week.  And in less than 18 days, over a dozen people peer produced #hohoTO, a sold-out party for over 600 people that raised $25,000 and 2t of food for the Daily Bread Foodbank. Taking it further, reasearch is underway into how it Twitter changes how we respond to disasters and even politicians are embracing the transparency. If this is what be happening with 5, 10, 20 million users,  what’s possible when we’re dealing with 100m or a billion users around the world?

Is it utopia and the solution to all our problems? Of course not. But we are talking about a medium with core attributes that make it the more compatible with social change and innovation than any other. This is not about ‘tool or strategy’ this is about the birth of a medium – and its potential as a medium for change.

Already there are some great starts at the infrastructure (SMOB, FETHER,, rsscloud, etc), standards (TwitterData, MicroSyntax,etc.) and usage questions (Kanter, Bravo, Wikipedia, etc.). But we’re just starting to scratch the service. Getting to the roots of this and how we can use it to make change needs a focus on social change and a coordinated strategy. Key tracks for that are:

  • surfacing what’s already happening in terms of use, research, and potential for social change;
  • studying the impacts and implication of the medium on making change; and
  • encouraging systems and standards that optimize the medium for public benefit (more on that in my previous post).

So let’s get to it. This medium is here to stay and the potential for change making is profound. What have you seen? What do you think? “What are you doing?” Please do comment, share and let’s take this forward.

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