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Experimentation/Project Platform

paul-green-jr's picture

Experimentation/Project Platform

By Paul Green, Jr. on February 18, 2013

My experience as a MiX contributor, as well as a practitioner who has perused the MiX for answers to some of my pressing, practical issues, is that there are a great number of great ideas on the MiX, but very few real, practical tools or solutions that I can leverage to solve issues that I have as a leader in a business committed to management innovation. This stands to reason, I think, given that the challenges that I face are often specific to our business, and the ideas that I read are generally specific to the circumstances of the writer's organization. Further, even if there are generalizable specific tactical stories, it's almost impossible to capture the requisite level of detail in a post on the MiX website. Incidentally, I've had a number of MiX-ers contact me to learn more about our organization, and what we've done--and the questions that they have about what I've written about Morning Star seem to validate this: they always understand the concepts, but need help translating those concepts to tactical plans for application in their organizations. I'd like the ability to create a "project" of sorts around a challenge that I face. I'd like to be able to invite selected MiX-ers to join me in solving the project--in a way that's specific to my organization. I believe that many of the challenges that innovating organizations face will only be solved through creative experimentation that brings perspectives from various disciplines to bear on the focus challenge. I'd like the MiX to be an online venue that allows me to bring the "project team" together to conquer my challenge--to frame up an experiment of sorts, to document (in a more comprehensive format) how we've approached solving the challenge, and to, ultimately, publish the document on the MiX as a "Case Study" of sorts. There are some posts here that have similar concepts included, but here are the keys, for me: 1. Projects are invite only. 2. These are extended-life (long-term) projects built around real, practical challenges; not short-term idea generation projects. This enables the MiX to develop a body of content (as case studies) that's deeper, and more comprehensive, than ideas or stories. I'd envision the case studies as very detailed how-to's that delve into the specific details--including the experiments that the poster tried, results, etc... Incidentally, I think to some degree, that this might simply be an extension of the post below (about allowing community members to suggest hackathons)--but I think what I'm looking for is deeper than a hackathon, and has a few distinct features. Incidentally, I think that this allows MiX-ers to begin to build reputational capital. If I'm invited to participate in a project, and that project results in a well-received case study, this validates me as a management innovator.

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michele-zanini_4's picture

Hi Paul, thanks for sharing such a thoughtful contribution. Would love to understand a bit more what kinds of "assets" you think the MIX should bring to bear to make these projects work. I'm thinking it's less about developing a fancy project management platform, and more about creating a place where people can:
1. Identify and invite likeminded practitioners who might help solve the problem (these could be relative strangers and/or colleagues)
2. Have access to a number to tools/templates (e.g., how to fully diagnose the management issue you're facing; how to "hack" and run experiments) that can help structure the problem-solving process and improve its output
3. Have a place to exchange perspectives and ideas (like the hackathon platform we're using right now, but perhaps even simpler so that it's truly "self-service")
4. Have the opportunity to "upload" to the MIX their story/hack once complete, so that I can get shared with the broader community.

Please let me know if I'm on the right track here, and feel free to add any other specific suggestions on this front. thanks again!


paul-green-jr's picture

Hi Michele,

I agree completely. For me, this has nothing to do with a project management platform--in fact, I would resist including project management utilities in anything you develop; it'll only distract from the real value that the MiX can bring. It is exactly as you describe in your list.

I do want to reinforce a few things you mention: the tools/templates--these don't need to be robust software tools, but rather basic frameworks (including, perhaps, a framework for defining/reporting on experiments). Also, the self-service platform is critical...

The one thing that I think is critical here: this is an extended engagement. I think if this sort of platform is to be successful, it can't be a "drive-by-and-comment" sort of platform. Being able to sign on to the project and to contribute consistently as the project develops is key. It's part of the reason I initially said "invite only"; doesn't necessarily need to be only by invite, but the space can't be cluttered by a bunch of random comments/contributions, or solutions providers using the space to promote their solutions (which may, in fact, be valuable solutions--but can easily, in a project like this, simply clutter things up).

sam-folk-williams's picture

Hi Paul - I really like this idea. Indeed I've seen a couple along these lines. One question - why make the projects invite only? Can you elaborate on that requirement?

paul-green-jr's picture

Invite-only might not be exactly the correct approach, but it needs to be a more "committed" relationship than the "leave a comment" approach that I've seen in many hackathons. I think participants need to be "on the project"--either they are invited, or they request to be on the project.

It's a long-term engagement, and it's something more than simply leaving a comment or two. Does that make any sense?

sam-folk-williams's picture

Yes - that definitely makes sense. In my experience with several hackathons, I think actually the smaller the group is, the more invested I feel in devoting a lot of time and thought to it. I think invite-only is risky because it feels too exclusive to me. But, maybe some kind of commitment or other effort to get into a project...

susan-resnick-west's picture

I love the idea! This would allow us to ground our collaborations and receive real time feedback on the effectiveness of our interventions.

frederic-jleconte's picture

I agree with the need and intention to dedicate a long term effort for challenges on invitation.
Each MIXer must sell such contribution to its organization as experience and talent development.So the company is comfortable hat it is not a ghost workforce transfer.

Long term does not mean long hours.
This is another Time/Results oriented skill combination that is going to get higher value in the coming years.

paul-green-jr's picture

Agree re. long-term not equalling long-hours. It's more about extended engagement than it is a significant time commitment.