How to get the project started

I've been thinking a lot about how we can get The Membership Project started in an open, innovative way, and coming up with a few ideas. Here's first thoughts:

1. The best way of doing things would be to have another team meeting and work through our objectives, the tasks, who does what, the milestones etc. But that would delay thing for a few weeks if we organised it face-to-face. We could try doing it synchronously online, but it would still take a bit of organising.

So - stop worrying about being too neat and tidy - just drop some ideas in here which we can clean up later, or better still leave as an honest example about how processes are messy!

2. On previous projects, like the Open Innovation Exchange, we ran a multi-author blog like this one and also has a private "backstage" system using Basecamp. We used that for team messaging, documents, todos and milestones. Do may need that this time too, but let's see how open we can be here.

3. This site needs some tweaks, but we can do that on the run by using our immediate blogging to test what changes are needed. Let's have an area for feedback and the fixes needed.

4. We need to set some milestones around events. The first is the team meeting that we do need to have - but sometime in March. Then a bigger meeting of people who may be contributors to the project. Question - is that a fairly self-organising Barcamp-type effort, or something more formal with organisational representatives? We will be running a workshop at the NCVO membership conference, and should look out for additional opportunities to engage with people.There's a calendar on the site.

5. If we are going for an open innovation process, then the people who will make this work are other enthusiasts operating in an open, collaborative style. A good place to start is people who demonstrate this by blogging about their work. In an earlier post I've put together a first list.

6. We need to put together a proposition, then start with wants and offers. How about we put together a short version of about this project, and get in touch with those on the blogger list in these terms:

"The aim of this project is to create a market place for ideas, products and services that will help people think about and manage the changes that social media is bringing to membership organisations. Are you interested? If so, what are you looking for, and what could you offer?

"Do take a look at the list of people we are contacting. Can you think of anyone else? We hope one of the attractions of the project will be joining a network of people with an interest in this topic. We are trying to develop some membership here! Any ideas on how best to do that?"

7. We need to look at the lessons for open collaboration, not least in Charles Leadbetter's new book We-Think. What's clear from our past experience is that however wide the collaboration, you need a core group of enthusiasts, a process for making decisions that is not wholly democractic, and a way of chunking work up into modules or packages.

8. We should start developing an FAQ (questions and answers) about the project.

How does seem to the rest of the team?


Who we get involved

David, you say "If we are going for an open innovation process, then the people who will make this work are other enthusiasts operating in an open, collaborative style."  I agree, but being devils advocate we also need to get others on board, particularly membership organisations that might not be used to working in this way. So, we need a parallel message that works for them, that is all about what they get out of it, that draws them in. I could probably make a start on that - a model could be the Legacy Foresight project that a friend of ours called Meg Abdy runs...

Re: getting the project started

Hi David

This sounds good - I know a project blog is a great first step, and can get some thinking going.

What I was looking for when I first came to the site was a 'rules of engagement' type page.

I realise that these may be key for most sites where the mission is collaboration but the means somewhat ambiguous to start with.

Perhaps the 'how to use this site' page could be a good first step.

Incidentally - will it be useful if I start linking to this site from elsewhere now or shall I wait for the framing of the project first?



re: getting the project started

Saul - thanks. I would really appreciate your expertise/suggestions on the rules of engagement front. So far I've just thrown up a few posts aimed at the core team so if people agree with the general approach. No dissent, so we can turn this into something for wider consumption on the "how to use this site page", and FAQ. To help with that, could you reflect on what you think you and others will want from the site/project? Then we can say, for example:

We aim to develop firstly a marketplace in ideas, products and services:

  • A place where you can converse and collaborate with others interested in how social media will affect membership organisations, and how they can use to benefit members. Also how people can organise online in new ways.
  • Somewhere you can offer products and services relevant to memberships organisations, and those organising online - provided you are also prepared to share ideas and provide some "take-aways"

We then aim to help develop some new offerings, partly by helping those on the site collaborate in packaging what they can offer organisations and individuals, partly by putting together new proposals to funders and investors. So -

  • Who might be interested in developing an introduction package for organisations - a workshop that could be run as an event, then in more detail on site?

 Can you hold off for a couple of days on linking whiloe we get something more coherent sorted?

re: getting the project started

Hi David,

I'm pleased to be invited in at this stage!

I can be quite concrete about what I want out of the Membership project:

* An archive of relevant literature, maintained, updated and commentated on by interested collaborators.

* An archive of best-practice and bitter experience accounts from contributors, interlinked with cooperatively developed abstract models of membership (see below).

* Some cooperatively developed models for understanding the vectors of collaboration and value within membership organisations. Some examples: modelling and evidencing relationships between action, openess, relationship-building and decision-making.

* An archive of tools and techniques for workshopping and developing organisational self-awareness for memberships.

I also have some more specific ideas about software development that I would like to undertake in relation to these modelling processes and workshop tools and techniques (bringing them together somewhat) which I will flesh out as a micro-project proposal some time soon.

I'd also be very interested in any research into organisational, business and legal structures for membership organisations that can be matched with and then used to stimulate certain models of value and cooperation within membership organisations. Perhaps this is part of the 'abstract models' proposal... or a separate area of research.

 I'm happy to hold off on linking until we've got things more settled... looking forward to it!



re: getting the project started

Saul - thanks - terrific ideas! Do please develop any/all of those as proposals for work packages, and if you are happy to do so invite some collaborators. Both Sophia at RSA and Megan at NCVO are keenly interested in the research side.

On linking - do show to anyone you know who might be interested. I just wanted to hold back on blogging for a day or two.



Thought it might be helpful for me to write down what I want to learn from this project (which I'm sure will develop and change over time).

Currently I'm thinking along 2 lines about the impact of social networking on membership organisations...

1. Possible negative impacts - persuading people to join and pay subscription fees when so much is available for free on the net, therefore getting a list of motivations on which to base future invites and interactions would be useful

2. Possible postive impacts - greater spread of knowledge about the RSA and a tool for recruitment, pool of potential Fellows, therefore information on who would be 'promoted' to Fellowship and invited to join, how and when would be useful