Business, Social Impact, Democracy

Let’s start with an immediate example or two. Valley Venture Mentors, now a “rave” program and event because of the news about funding, is a great example of a participatory, continually creative process and program. And it is great: by being all that, VVM has grown, pioneered new and profound approaches to venture creation and development, and attracted large-scale regional support. Three years ago, we had a few entrepreneurs and 20 to 30 mentors. Last month, we heard from the 13 entrepreneurs who will be completing their program in September, as they presented their updates to an audience of over 140 business and social venture leaders from around western Massachusetts. There’s more coming: VVM is recruiting new applicants right now for the next round, AND VVM will be also launching an accelerator program in Springfield in January 2015.

VVM also needs to recruit your participation: more mentors, and more small group and enterprise facilitators. The entrepreneurs who get accepted in the program benefit from the expertise and wisdom of all of you who have experience, knowledge, and skills to share. I hope you’ll attend the August session (August 13th; check out and experience for yourselves the excitement of working with colleagues to develop new businesses and organizations.

Business success and organization success based on the methodology I described last time is also exemplified by SPARK in Holyoke, an emerging organization that ties entrepreneurship directly to local and regional economic and community development. It’s a new arrival to the regional eco-system, embodying a somewhat more social venture approach than most other entrepreneurship initiatives. I had the opportunity to meet with the organization’s Board last week, and used the design thinking + lean launchpad workshop method to help them with program design and focus. Their capacity to seamlessly weave creative thinking, participatory design, and continual innovation into the core of their organization is truly impressive.

Isn’t this the core, in fact, of the “creative economy” initiative?

I’ve now used, and continued to hone, a workshop program based on this method in three very different situations. I find that it has built-in flexibility, allowing me to quickly adapt to the organization, its interests and needs, and its participants. In addition to the SPARK session, we’ve worked with a group of education consultants in Maine to look at what they might do to affect change in higher education, and within a Lean Launchpad program provided to a mid-sized and growing company in the region looking at some internal “pivots” to sustain growth.

If it’s true that change is the only certainty, then engaging others in a continuously creative, innovative approach that allows an organization or business to harness change for rewarding outcomes seems highly worthwhile!

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