Weeknotes #223

This week I did:

Stopped and went back

We’ve been prototyping the new product and had been coming up against lots of questions where our discussions revealed very different understanding, so we stop for a day and went back to re-work the wireframes to ensure we all had a shared understanding. Sometimes, stopping and taking a backwards step helps you move forward more quickly.

I had lots of fun using logic statements to describe how content will be displayed based on the ranked order of variables and the combinations of values. It’ll be interesting to see long the final statement is.

I’ve been experimenting with reporting using Microsoft Planner, exporting the current state to a spreadsheet and having formulas to generate a status update report. If I ever get time I’d like to create Google Sheets version of the report for others to use.


This week’s lecture was about statistics. It feels like the most difficult subject we’ve studied in the entire Masters programme. Perhaps because there are lots and lots of new concepts to learn whereas all the other lectures were about one big concept, and perhaps because there is a right answer when it comes to using statistics, which again is different from all the other stuff we’ve learned about.

Build Better Systems Chatbot

I started mapping out the flow for the Build Better Systems chatbot. The chatbot (if I ever finish it) will allow someone to select aspects of a internet business model such as distribution channel and revenue model and then it asks them to decide what to do in situations one of their Twitter followers launching a copy of their business idea, and how many paying customers do they want to reach before they consider their business idea to be validated. Based on the answers they select their business will either succeed or fail. The point is to prompt makers to think about how they construct their business model in the digital age and making it robust to respond to challenges. There are lots of variations in the flows so it’s going to be the most complex chatbot I’ve ever built.

300 Digital Tools

My Digital Tools list has reached 300 and I’ve set myself the target of 500 by the end of the year.

I read:

Innovation in the charity sector

I’ve been collecting research papers as part of the literature review for my dissertation on innovation in the charity sector, including one from 2016 on using Facebook as a fundraising tool (it’s effective depends on how you measure: direct impact on income is low, impact on connecting with supporters (presumably some make donations) is high) and another that looked at the metrics charities use to measure their marketing activities. Aside from these being interesting in their own right, I haven’t yet found anything that relates to my field of study.

Innovation as an emergent product of a value network.

I listen to a talk by Roland Harwood about entrepreneurial activism with lots of interesting ideas about how to use entrepreneurialism in places like South Africa, which has huge wealth inequality, to establish small businesses in deprived areas which kick-start economic growth and make corporate organisations invest in those areas in order to grow the market. He talked us needing a pragmatic vision of the future and mentioned quotes such as “Innovation is a byproduct of networks” from Verne Allee.

Thought about:

The difference between meetings and workshops

Meetings might be led, but often not. Workshops are facilitated.

Meetings are meandering. Workshops are structured.

Meetings are about ‘something’. Workshops are for ‘something’.

Meetings create more meetings. Workshops generate outputs.

Give and tech

If we say that civil society is characterised by individuals choosing to use personal resources for collective gain, from donating time and money to a charity, but often with no gain for themselves (arguable, as there are very different types of value but anyway…). And if tech ethics discussions are around what we and others give up in return for what we and others gain, such as data in a network effects system where the more data we all contribute the more benefits that data can lead to for everyone. Both involve us understanding ourselves as part of a complex system of other people and technology with non-linear effects.

Some some people tweeted:

Heads together

Wayne tweeted: “Thinking of creating a cross sector working group looking at transformation from every angle. Digital. Strategy. Fundraising. NPD. Wellbeing. Etc. Each month we pick a problem, put our heads together and try to solve it. For free. Anyone interested?” This made my think about Nesta’s Collective Intelligence Design Playbook and how some of the techniques in it could be used to record the outputs of all those heads coming together to solve problems in ways that can be used and built upon by more charities, perhaps a bit like Catalyst’s Service Recipes.


Philliteracy tweeted, The Charity Commission’s recent efforts to win friends and influence people <ahem> got me thinking about why we have a stand-alone charity regulator here in the UK.” and went into a really interesting thread about the history of the idea and application of an organisation responsible for charity regulation. How the state introduces and manages controls within the civic space (and market for that matter, given all the talk about regulating the tech industry) is important when thinking about what problem regulation is designed to solve, and who it solves for.

The future hasn’t arrived yet

David Mattin tweeted a thread about “the Four Futures framework, and it’s an amazingly powerful tool for thinking about what comes next“. The thread goes on to explain how, based on the work of professor James Dator, all predictions for the future fall into one of four categories; Growth: the present order continues to develop along its current trajectory, Collapse: our current trajectory comes to a sudden halt; the present order falls apart, Discipline: new restraints are imposed on the present order to prevent collapse, or Transformation: entirely new systems are found; we transcend the present order. The stories will tell ourselves about the future of anything always falls into these narratives.