Again and again I am asked why i-Sparks is focusing on ideas and projects for social good vs. projects for profits. After all, the underlying approach and methodologies are also applicable in the business world. This is true. They are applicable and work nicely. Indeed, I have developed the approach and methodologies through my own business consulting activities. However, this is not the point. I have worked in professional project management for more than fifteen years now. I have seen projects fail and projects succeed. I have seen dull, boring projects and WOW projects that excite the people working on the project and the client and customers. Personally, I am interested in successful projects with a WOW factor.
Yes, you can have clear project objectives but that is not sufficient to get a project to a good start. You need to know the driver behind a project. You need to understand the overall picture where your tiny project fits in.
Example: I worked on a project which objective was to develop and execute a global marketing of a newly introduced product. The scope was clear, the stakeholders defined and known. What was missing was a common understanding of the mission of the product. What was the one value of the product every stakeholder, project member and customer could agree on. When you asked five stakeholders why this product and campaign was important you received five different answers. It was an interesting and challenging project, no doubt. We delivered on time and budget. From this perspective it was a success and the client was happy. But there was a lack of team spirit, no team synergy, no WOW. Why? The company lacked a clear motivation and vision. The most common answer about the driver and goals were financial in nature. Fact is, money alone does not move people. You have to understand their deep motivations and visions.
i-Sparks doesn’t want to attract individuals and organizations who join for the quick buck. i-Sparks is for individuals and organizations who care about social change and social good. It is for individuals and organizations who believe in their ideas and visions and who are not distracted by things such as money. Don’t get me wrong, money is important. This is why i-Sparks will offer crowdfunding functionalities in the near future. However, a well-funded project without a clear motivation and vision is not worth working for. At least as it comes to social change and social good. This is where i-Sparks comes in. And this why i-Sparks focuses on ideas and projects for social change and social good rather than “traditional”, commercial projects.
— Thomas Juli
The main topic was and is how to facilitate the growth process of a project. In other words, how can we make the use of our available tools more intuitive and integrate them better with the user flow.
Any feedback, suggestions or ideas are highly welcome. We will be experimenting with a number of things and will keep you updated.
While doing research for i-Sparks’ pilot project “Our school in India“ I have come across a website that is more than worth mentioning and which is in sync with the mission i-Sparks, i.e., growing ideas for social good into projects for success, and where we can learn from taking the pilot project “Our school in India” to the next level:
The Bali Children’s Project (BCP) is dedicated to improving life through education. For almost twenty years the BCP has been quietly reaching out to young people and their families in rural Bali, not least in mountain communities beyond the economic benefits of tourism.
BCP was founded on the belief that as children are empowered to realize their potential, they will enrich their villages and contribute to the world we all share. By providing opportunities for education, BCP is giving children the chance for a better tomorrow, while lightening the burdens of today.
BCP is acutely conscious of Bali’s unique cultural heritage, and the need to safeguard it from questionable outside influences that accompany mass tourism. BCP programs are designed to integrate the demands of economic progress with the island’s traditional values.
i-Sparks encourages you to visit the website of BCP to learn more about its wonderful mission and work. Then take those lessons learned and apply to them to i-Sparks’ pilot project “Our school in India“.
— Thomas Juli
As the year 2012 comes to an end quite a few of us review this past year, our accomplishments, successes, events, people we met, friends we made, places we visited, deals we made, challenges we mastered. This is good and important. We can and have to take responsibility for our actions. But it doesn’t stop there: As we reflect what we have done last year, let’s also remember our inactions – and take responsibility for them.
Now, let’s face 2013. You may already have concrete plans, but do you also have a vision which will guide you, serve as an orientation for you and others?
We, at i-Sparks, do: We want to help you who are interested in social good grow your ideas into projects for success.
Happy New Year!
Dear i-Sparks Community!
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
2013 will be a great year. Not just for i-Sparks but for all individuals and organizations who contribute to and benefit from the i-Sparks community.
Who says that there are not enough people who care about social change?! Well, they are misled. Fact is that the great majority of society is interested in social change and contribute to it in a positive way.
Have a look at the infographic below (source: http://mashable.com/2011/09/30/social-change-infographic):
Today i-Sparks joined MyCommitment.org, a project of the Clinton Global Initiative, committing to build an active community to help individuals and organizations interested in social change grow their ideas into projects for success. In addition to the official i-Sparks website, updates of i-Sparks activities will also be posted on http://www.mycommitment.org (exact URL to follow).
Recognizing the power of private citizens to make a positive impact on the lives of others, President Clinton launched MyCommitment.org, an online portal that gives citizens around the world the opportunity to make a Commitment to Action.
David Bornstein is the author of How to Change the World: Social Entrepeneurs and the Power of New Ideas (Oxford University Press, rev. ed. 2007). In an interview for Guy Kawasaki’s book Reality Check (Penguin Group, 2008) Bornstein explains what it takes to move people to take action for social change and others to just cogitate.
“Why do people who are procrastinating for months suddenly kick in gear and get their taxes done on April 14? At a certain point, the pain of not acting – getting hit with a penalty – overtakes the pain of actually doing your taxes. The same may apply to other aspects of life. There is emotional pain associated with inaction, especially if we care about something. So to the degree that we help people gain more and more exposures to problems in ways that make it more difficult to emotionally accept those problems, we will see more action.
On the other hand, there is the upside of action – the anticipated pleasure and satisfaction. … The bottom line is that we focus on the “doing good” aspects, on the sacrifice and ethical components, but we often forget to mention how wonderful it feels to take meaningful action in line with your core beliefs. Finally, people often delay because they just don’t know where to go, what to do, or how to take the first step. So there is a big need for tools that help people find their place in the field of social entrepeneurship and social innovation.”
How does i-Sparks contribute to social innovation?
Through the i-Sparks community you can share your ideas and problems you observe in your environment. i-Sparks helps identify the root cause of a problem, help develop a vision for a resolution and derive concrete next steps in the form of a project. You don’t need to be an expert to setup a project for social change because the i-Sparks community helps you achieve it together. You can tap in the vast experience and expertise of community members and grow ideas into real projects for change, projects that add value, projects that matter, projects that make a difference, projects that leave a legacy. This is the driver and vision of i-Sparks.
i-Sparks aims to grow ideas into projects that excite and inspire people and organizations alike, projects that spark innovation for social change. We are not talking about ‘any’ projects but ‘WOW Projects’: projects that add value, projects that matter, projects that make a difference, projects that leave a legacy … .
Thomas Juli, founder and president of i-Sparks, states: “I was fortunate that most of the projects I worked on or managed, inside and outside of business, met these requirements. It was not the nature of the projects. It was the attitude of the whole team and its desire to create something special.
All of my wow projects started with a clear vision; clear enough to become emotional about it. We could see, smell, and feel the expected end results. This was a strong driver in our day-to-day activities. Other attributes of these projects were that collaboration was working: roles and responsibilities were defined, team members’ expectations articulated and accounted for, and all were reviewed regularly, adapting them where necessary. We nourished teamwork and the freedom to act for a common goal. Creating and nurturing an innovative learning environment, an atmosphere where feedback was sincere, honest, and constructive, was another success factor. It was about helping and learning from each other. Last but not least, the wow projects were about delivering results, not just the final deliverable. Instead, we set weekly goals to work on and deliver. This meant we always had a good sense of accomplishment. Project success became success for all of us.”
If you too are interested in launching your own WOW project, start today: share your ideas for social change and invite the i-Sparks community to help you grow a project that makes a difference.
Literature recommendation: Peters, T. J. (2007). The Wow Project. FastCompany. Retrieved from http://www.fastcom- pany.com/magazine/24/wowproj.html
We, i.e., individuals and organizations around the world, face unprecedented social, economic, ecological, and political challenges. Worse, we can expect these challenges to multiply in the next decades we must confront them. What’s needed are new and fresh ideas to tackle and solve today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.
There are thousands and thousands of new ideas how to confront these challenges. And yet, most of these ideas remain just that: ideas, figments of our imagination, remote from reality. This raises the questions: if we have so many ideas, why don’t we do more with them? What is necessary to follow up on them and put them to work? What’s holding us back?
AND how can we translate global concepts into local projects?
This is where i-Sparks comes in. In the i-Sparks community you can develop and review global concepts. But it doesn’t stop there. You can invite the i-Sparks community to help you translate global concepts into local projects that make an impact to your neigbhorhood and immediate life.
How can you start? Post your ideas, problems and/or projects for social change in either the IDEAS forum, on the IDEAS wall, fill out the contact form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. i-Sparks will consolidate all input in one major IDEAS mindmap (see sample mindmap below). This way you can see in one sight what’s happening in the i-Sparks community.