These visual thoughts are usually a result of a conversation, stumbling across a blog post or someone tweeting some verbiage at me. All these images are available for use under a Creative Commons licence - I’m always interested to hear how you used them.

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Future kinds of work

How I work has changed massively over the past ten years. Okay, so now I draw pictures, whereas I used to write programs – or lead others to write programs. Probably the biggest change I’ve had is being exposed to Mozilla’s way of working. They corale creative communities using some very clever practices and technologies. And right at the centre of this deeper magic community alignment

This thinkery was created for this DML blog post.

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Social Purpose

With the genesis of the Wapisasa concept in my head, I was keen to use a different model. A people-first model. A social business. I wanted to pin the social purpose to our foreheads, so that profit never became our top priority.

I wanted to run Wapisasa as a business, but never wanted to lose sight of its social aim: to provide credential-poor young people access to fulfilling digital careers. After bouncing my ideas off a few key people, I set it up using the legal vehicle of a C.I.C. (Community Interest Company) — essentially a UK limited company, with asset locks written into it’s articles of association, and, of course, a social aim.

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Transparent and Open

I’ve been thinking about Cooperative business models recently, thanks to Doug Belshaw and John Bevan. Engaging with different ideas means playing out scenarios, and like splitting light through a prism, you can’t quite imagine how it will be until you shine it through.

Watch this space…

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Entrepreneurship

I remember being on an entrepreneurship course, not long after co-founding my first business. It was part of an excellent scheme that joined up experts, incubation space in Government buildings, and funding from the Scottish Government. It was just what we needed.

Each week a different expert spoke. Cash is King. David vs Goliath. Why you and your partners really really really need a shareholders agreement…

I remember the words the speaker spoke in relation to this drawing. “It’s the things you don’t know you don’t know that’ll kill you every time…”

I must continually gain exposure from other’s experiences. I wish I’d figured this out earlier…

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The long burn

A cracker of an idea. A business idea. I should start a business with this idea right now. Figure it out in my spare time and then just set it up…

For me, startup never happens like this.

It starts with a hunch, a curiosity, almost an irritation. So much uncertainty. So many unknowns. It’s half-baked plan hinges on finding good people and figuring out how to keep them.

There’s a model that’s often peddled – multiple rounds of external funding with the hook of the big exit that’ll make everyone rich. And it makes sense – if you’re an investor. But I’m not comfortable with it, for every external investment is a big chain pulling you away from the “why” of your business. I don’t start businesses to make money. I start businesses to change the world or at least a few people’s world…

It’s a long burn.

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What every business needs…

I was on a train with Doug Belshaw and John Webber recently, and someone mentioned an appointment described as “director of out-of-the-box”. I suddenly realised what I had seen play out in all the businesses I’ve been involved with – the tension between Quality and Innovation. Obviously, every business needs both…

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So… how’s it going? (growing a social business)

I wrote this visual poem about 6 months ago when my social business wapisasa and its vision were struggling – I had completely forgotten about it until I found it in an old sketchbook last week, and thought I might turn it into something to encourage others. If it resonates with you, let me know!

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It’s all about people

Having sold a couple of businesses, I’m often asked about the ingredients of running a successful start-up. Well, this may be obvious, but it’s top of my list every time. People. But not just your immediate team (which is of course critical), but those who you sell to, those who support what you’re selling, those who act as advocates for you, and those who build whatever your products and deliver your services. Find good people, and figure out how to play them to their strengths.

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If you’d like to throw me a thought, or would like to commission an image, please get in touch below or if its easier, via twitter.
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