Sunday, January 29, 2012

Building innovation nodes through Free Software Communities (II)

Please read the previous post about this topic to have a better idea of what I'm trying to explain here.

When thinking about how to create a local node in a certain area where all the knowledge from GFSC can be used to improve local economy and social rights I came to the conclusion that we need to define a model based on the following six general ideas:
  1. Principles: some basic principles shared by all participants must be defined.
  2. Participants: electing who is going to participate in the initiative and which role will have each one of them is another simple but relevant idea to determine.
  3. Localization/facilities: the initiative needs a specific place, adapted to the kind of activities needed to achieved the goals.
  4. Services and resources: participants will need to define services and look for the resources needed to launch and sustain the project.
  5. Organization: governance model and structure are also key point to define. They must be adapted to promote an innovation environment.
  6. Actions: activities that will be the core of the project.


1.- Principles

The actions that need to be taken must follow some principles shared by every GFSC, adding some important ones for local agents involved. These two groups of principles can be summarized in the following:
  • Freedom, which includes economic and administrative freedom.
  • Self management.
  • Openness
  • Integration.
  • Free licenses.

2.-Participants

In order to be successful, I think the project must count on three major participants:
  • Source: local Free Software Communities.
  • Catalyst: organization that will promote interaction among players involved.
  • Receptors: local organizations and individuals.

3.-Localization/facilities

Localization must be carefully chosen. I think that the perfect place must be located in a mid-size city, well communicated with bigger cities and an international airport. The facilities chosen must allow to celebrate talks, meetings and workshop, with a networking area. Accommodation and restaurants/cafeterias must be easily reachable.

To be successful, the place must have a comfortable atmosphere, quiet but informal, with areas that promote interaction and others intimacy. 

4.-Services and resources

In order to define a project to achieve our goals, some services will be needed. The basic ones are:

The project will need support in the following areas:
  • Administrative
  • Legal
  • Financial and accounting.
  • Marketing and communication.
  • Business development.
  • Facilities maintenance and management.

The resources needed to launch a project like this one, must come from:
  • Sponsorship.
  • Local public administrations and innovation agents.
  • Local companies.
  • Participants.
  • Activities organized by participants.

5.- Organization

Innovation and complex organization structures are incompatible. The structure to manage the project must be simple and compatible with the culture from the communities involved. I think the perfect organization and structure comes from a mix of three different kind of well known organizations:
  • Labs. There are many of them around the globe. In Spain we have two well known, one in Madrid and other one in Barcelona.
  • Self-managed cultural centers. They are multidisciplinary legal entities, self-organized, usually linked to a certain building or infrastructure where many different kind of activities are promoted and organized.
  • Business incubators.

The global idea is reducing administrative and legal work to the minimum, promoting meritocracy and electing the people that manage the project, creating forums where local agents directly interact with those organizers from the communities that participate in the initiative.

6.- Activities

The communities involved in the project will determine the type of activities to be organized. Obviously, in order to generate a local pole, an intense agenda a a key point. It should be full of community events, but also other kind of activities that promote interactions with local agents, like training sessions, workshops, etc.

Communities usually organize itinerant events. A project like his do not mean that local communities has to change this mechanism of "spreading the message". It is just a matter of creating several minor activities per year at this place.

In following posts I will explain a little how do I believe the above six point should be done/organized to be able to create a local pole of innovation through Free Software Communities.
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