NOTE: This is a full archive for the Project Community: You & The World (2014) please see the main site for the most up to date information.

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Build your Toolbox

The start of any journey can be exciting but needs proper planning. I think that any new start up or venture by an NGO or designer needs careful consideration. Tiny Houses would like to build a physical community. There are lots of issues that they need to address.

The first reason for creating a work team is structure. Creating a core work team that you can trust will set a good foundation for a successful journey. Finding link minded people with different skill sets will be useful in building up your tool kit.  A group leader is needed, often the founder. Someone who is passionate about the project and makes the time to put it at the forefront of things. Creating a team will give direction and a shared workload. The size of the group needs to be considered. As I’ve mentioned before, group size determines limits for intimacy. Too big and the team may lose efficiency. Get it right, and you may see results quicker than you thought you would.

The second reason is utilizing tools. Work can be shared and completed far more effectively with a varied group of skilled people. Achieving the right blend of people will boost your chances of success. One important tool that is needed is a technology steward. For Tiny houses who struggle with awareness, possible misconceptions and funding, a technology steward is key. Somebody who understands Tiny Houses can pair the right online platforms to address their goals and issues and build their online community. This is someone who definitely needs to be in the toolbox. 

The third reason is professionalism. We can be our own worst enemy at times. We can have a brilliant new idea we want to try, but can often fail to be strict with ourselves and may take our foot off the gas. A group brings with it a positive pressure. You try harder because you have teammates you don’t want to let down. Regular meetings are arranged and progress is measured. A satisfaction comes with it, knowing that you are collectively working towards your goal in a structured manner. 

Writing up a game plan, as we have done for Tiny Houses will give structure, goals and direction. Finding the right tools for the job can help create a bright future for Tiny Houses.

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Image: www.clipartbest.com

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Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Open Innovator

Marketing like it or not

Having a brilliant product or idea that perhaps everybody needs isn’t enough to make people buy it. They need encouraging. Whether it is a product you want to make global or a local project you want to advertise, different marketing strategies need to be considered. I’m certainly not a marketing expert, but I do need to consider potential strategies with the group for Tiny Houses. We’ve pulled a couple of ideas from ‘value proposition’ and ‘purple goldfish’ strategies. A value proposition can highlight the benefits that an organization can offer a customer. This could be important for Tiny Houses. There are some misconceptions that a tiny house community is the same as an RV park. Potential customers need to be assured that this isn’t the case and that they can offer them a friendly and well maintained community. A purple goldfish strategy emphasizes that a project can offer a little something different. Maybe we can compare a tiny house community against an RV park or a typical urban street. What can a tiny house community offer that typical housing can’t. 

This course has helped us to couple online communities and innovative design, specifically our NGO Tiny Houses. It is important to establish a designer’s or NGO’s purpose in the early stages to see what they need to succeed and how online communities and networks can help them. There are many online tools that a designer or organization can take advantage of. However I’ve found that having a technology steward can add value to a project, and I would advise Tiny Houses to find someone who can take the lead in building their online community. A tool such as a Facebook group can market a project, provide an outlet to share ideas and organize activities, as well as a means of measuring interest and success through a ‘like’ button. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding have many advantages for a project. A pool of knowledge can be shared and a new way of funding is helping start ups. These are all very useful for a designer or an organization. I find the most important aspect of using online communities is time. I feel you need to be dedicated with sharing timely blog posts and creating an active online community. If blogging is your chosen online tool, then random blogs with long periods between posts will not add value to a community. It is important to keep an online community interesting and functional, and this can take a lot of your time, especially if you’re one of the leaders of that community. As I’ve mentioned, I also find using a technology steward is one of the key elements to a successful online network. Someone who understands the needs of the community can select the right online tools to aid that community. Tiny Houses would benefit from such an individual who understands their current obstacles and needs. If Tiny Houses grow their online presence and community, can they handle the extra interest? A technology steward can help. 

For the future I would like to take a closer look at how larger companies and corporations use online communities. The past few weeks I have been focused on smaller projects and individuals and how they’re using online tools such as crowdfunding to help them start up. But for a company who is already well established, I’d like to explore how they manage their online communities and innovation. How do they keep the interest up in their online presence? Do they use different tools? Do they have different goals? I’d like to understand these things so I can adapt depending if I end up working for a large company or starting up my own business. Subtle differences may be very important. Research then is needed on my part, maybe I could just ask them?

Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Open Innovator

Driving Innovation: Crowdsourcing & Crowdfunding

Crowdsourcing in the design world can be used as a very useful tool. Designers can obtain ideas and needed services from a large crowd of people that would otherwise be limited to just themselves or their design team. They can tap in to external expertise and a wealth of ideas from the online community and general public. A good example of a crowdsourcing success is the Rally Fighter car, which was designed by a community. Crowdsourcing has the advantage of fairly low costs and there is a high volume of people ready to work at anytime. There are some negatives to keep in mind. It is difficult to manage your multitude of workers and the information they are sending in. There is no contract so their work can be sporadic and can just stop at anytime. They also may take your design and use it. There is an argument that their work is less credible than that of a dedicated well paid professional. A designer may wish to work alone, afraid of being coerced by others to alter his design or vision. The old expression ‘a camel is a horse designed by a committee’ comes to mind here. A little unfair on the camel though. A recent social study in Switzerland suggested that people working in groups are easily influenced by their team members. In a decision making process, the group drifted towards a consensus, to the detriment of accuracy. Their findings challenge a common view in management that it is best to seek the consensus in group decision making. However crowdsourcing could be the solution here. People are working independently, not influenced by others so give their true opinion and thoughts. The designer isn’t obliged to listen to everyone, so he is free to pick and choose what he needs. 

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Source: Thinkstock

Crowdfunding can thank the internet for it’s huge and ever growing success. Projects are funded by a large group of people who are interested in the project. In return for their investment they may receive a small reward or the project’s product or even a stake in the company. It’s not easy to get the cash flowing for any new business. In a time were we are still feeling the after effects of the 2008 financial crisis and nervous bank managers, this may be the only solution. An example of this from the UK, is that of Moo Free Chocolate. Months of meetings with many banks proved unfruitful in gaining the funds they needed. Within 24 hours of their crowdfunding venture, they had collected the full £60,000 they required. Some drawbacks for the investor are that there is always some degree of financial risk with investment and they could be waiting a while for a product or financial return. For the startup, if the crowdfunding appeal is slow to take off or doesn’t meet the required goal, then it has been a failure. This makes it very difficult to continue with the project. This makes preparation key. A well constructed video, a strong idea or product and awareness through friends, family and online communities will improve the chances for a successful crowdfunding campaign. Traditional funding is definitely being shaken up.

For an NGO like Tiny Houses, crowdfunding doesn’t seem appropriate for the time being. They need to collaborate more and agree on what they want. This is what we’ll advise them to do. Sharing a tiny house community with both houses and office space is an idea we think has potential in both raising awareness and revenue. Once they have built a larger and stronger online community with clear objectives, then crowdfunding becomes a possibility. 

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Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Open Innovator

5 posts!



5 posts!

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Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Open Innovator

Teamwork: It is less Me and more We

I have found myself in quite a fascinating work group of 7 members from different corners of the globe. We are from Brazil, Benin, Iran, Italy, Germany, and Britain. Working with such a diverse group isn’t a regular occurrence for me, so how should I approach this and how should we approach this? Well firstly we recognize that this is a great opportunity to learn from each other. We have more pools of knowledge to pull ideas from. Coming from different cultural backgrounds means that we have been shaped by different values and so we’ll probably approach challenges in different ways. This has the potential to provide both advantages and disadvantages. However, overcoming any difficulties will be helped by the team structure. We’ve been discussing how group numbers can affect the functionality of a team. Even numbers can bring stability to a team, members can work in pairs. While an odd numbered team encourages creativity. This may be because there is less rigid structure so members are working from multiple angles. We’ve found that having 7 members is on the large size. Group size determines limits for intimacy. This has been making it difficult for all of us to attend the same meetings and to listen to every members thoughts. To solve this, we’re considering splitting the team in to pairs with one team leader. Splitting a team in to smaller groups will create a good team dynamic. This will maximize potential using different individuals strengths and pooling all our work together at a later stage. This is a useful thought for our NGO, Tiny Houses. Forming smaller groups according to talent will make their community stronger. For instance small groups of technology stewards and people with marketing experience can work separately and efficiently, then at the end work together to find the best way to increase their ‘brand’ awareness in Florida. The video calls with our NGO are proving highly effective. With 7 members present, there is always a question being asked or a thought shared. In a short period of time we can discuss a lot of information. So we’ll definitely carry on this trend. So far, our first task as a group is proving very useful in exploring team dynamics and team efficiency. This knowledge will be vital as we progress and take on more challenges in the future. 

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This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Open Innovator

How we connect

Today everybody it seems is using a form of social networking. How do we use these online spaces and who uses what? Why do we use a particular network? Whichever one we choose, it enables us to connect with people. It may just be family and friends or we may use it to network professionally. I primarily use Google Hangouts to keep in contact with family and close friends. I find it has a user friendly interface, simple to chat and share photos while seemingly always in full control of privacy. I enjoy being part of a closed group who I feel free to share my thoughts with. My other use of social networking is for research purposes. Type in a subject of interest in a search engine, and often you find a link to a blog post with the information required. I take this information and use it. On reflection though, this is quite selfish. I’m forever reading blogs and taking in knowledge but I never give anything back. I’m not entirely sure what I can offer, but I think using a blog can help me interact with a larger open network. I’ve only just created a Tumblr account but already I feel as though I’m part of a larger group of people with similar interests wherever in the world they may be. For me at least, this is fresh and opens up new possibilities. Maybe it could play an important role one day in my profession. As a designer, If I have an idea that is a little rough around the edges, why not put it out to my larger community and share ideas. I’m becoming more comfortable with blogging and learning to stretch out to a larger open network. I think it’s worth mentioning my uncertainty with Facebook. Having various group pages is useful but I find that it’s too entangled with games, endless advertisements, needlessly complex privacy settings and now having to download a separate app just for messaging on Facebook (an app that my phone informs me is the main culprit of battery usage!) There are a lot of social networks to choose from. For personal use I think it would be better to choose no more than 3 or 4 social websites. My main reason for this is that I find it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of updates and messages received. This detracts from the social networking experience. For me, I’ll continue exploring blogging and embracing a wider network. Which is your network of choice?

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Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Open Innovator

Am I a technology steward?

No. Not yet anyway.  I don’t have enough experience of an online community to understand it’s technology needs. But I am starting to see why having a good understanding of online tools is relevant and important for an online community or anyone wishing to raise awareness for whatever they need. Members of my work group have different levels of experience with different tools, so I’m eager to pick up tips.It’s important that we learn from each other on our preferred tools of choice as they all have different benefits. By adding a tag to a Tumblr blog, Giulio has already received a ‘like’ from videovault.tumblr.com. Pretty impressive. I’m quite excited now to explore Tumblr and see how much attention our groups blogs can attract. Others are more experienced on Facebook and Twitter. A Twitter hashtag and a Facebook ‘like’ can expand your online visibility. Our NGO and it’s members are only using Facebook at the moment. I think the way to go is to utilize various online tools and maximize their online reach. 

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This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Open Innovator

What to focus on?

Having not opened communication with our NGO, it has if anything created more work for us to do. Our group is very eager to get their teeth stuck in to this assignment, knowing we only have a few weeks to put forth our recommendations. We’ve been busy looking at many possible solutions to problems the NGO may or may not have. But this is quite laborious and is certainly not an efficient way of going about our work. Nancy reminded us today not to try and fix everything in the world. We should really hone in on one main problem and put all our efforts there. That being the case, we’ll really push forward with our efforts this week in communicating with our client. 

Today we’ve been discussing stewarding technologies for communities. The right online platform can really help to serve a groups needs. For instance, a facebook group may be ideal for our clients objectives. A spidergram is a neat way to establish which activities of a group are important and so give a good indication to which technology would be appropriate. It would be useful to find out information such as if the community would like to be part of a larger network or are they interested in new tools? Hopefully after a few questions like these and a few more video calls to Seattle we’ll come up with an excellent recommendation for Tiny Houses!

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This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Open Innovator

Confusiasm!?*

The introduction to Project Communities was swift and a little hectic. After our first class I’m starting to see how communities and networks are a useful modern tool to an individual or group of people. Our video call to Nancy was a great example in itself. Creating a new network of people with all sorts of experience and backgrounds creates huge amounts of information in which we can pick and choose from to help us with our projects. I’d like to learn how to tailor these online tools to a designers or clients needs. I’m curious now to see how far communities can really go in helping organisations with their real challenges.

Our NGO, Tiny House Enthusiasts has a few problems they’d like our help with. I’m looking forward to working together as a group and seeing how we come up with ideas and solutions using our different backgrounds. I’d like to think that I’d bring a strong research attitude. I think it’s sometimes easy to overlook the importance of boring research ZZzzz. I very much like the idea of blogging, a blank canvas where we can bounce ideas off each other…

                                       

David.

Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Open Innovator