Monday, February 19, 2018

manpower mandate motivation

As is oft the case I have a theory. 

Over the past 15 or 20 years I have met with literally dozens of people who have great business ideas, and very often those ideas are born from a passion for a hobby or interest that they want to monetise.

Whilst there are many good reasons to grow a hobby into a more sustainable income I've also seen the same pitfalls present themselves over and over again, and this is almost always due to a lack of understanding about purpose.

Before anyone starts a business I recommend that they really come to grips with the 'why' - because that matters even more than the 'what'.  Why do you want to be self employed? Why do you want to sell this particular product or service? Why do you think there is room for this in the marketplace?

The answers are likely to be...because I love this thing...because I'm good at this thing...because I want the freedom of working for myself, and it won't feel like a job... Because I feel like I've got something great to offer.  All of which are GREAT reasons to add to the PLUS side of the list.  

In the for-purpose world (used be called charities, non-profits or community organisations) those values exist too, but the primary goal is to engage people, develop a community, create passion and purpose for the outcome - and whilst having enough money is important (non profit doesn't mean for-loss!) the driver is not income generation.  

And so, for people starting a business from a hobby, there is an immediate confusion for their customers.  This is particularly apparent in the arts and sports worlds.  Where large groups of people come together to enjoy something (a play, an orchestra, a fitness class) they will generally be happy to pay a fee. They'll probably be happy to help set up, pack down, do the dishes, and all the other things that go with running a club.  No organisation survives without ongoing, enthusiastic and high quality manpower. But when those same customers realise that the people running the organisation are doing it as a business, their enthusiasm for 'helping out' will quickly wane.  The business owner might initially be viewed as wearing a technicolour dream coat that every one wants to touch - and the more charismatic you are as a business owner, the more attractive your service, the more likely this is.  Eventually though, the hardworking 'volunteers' that your business (and it is your business) requires will move on to other things.  

They may have the usual volunteer fatigue that goes with the for-purpose sector, or they may simply need to rationalise their time, but the most common reasons for this are firstly that they don't feel valued (because they're doing everything for free - and that includes your perceived generosity in offering 'free' classes, 'free' food and so forth), and secondly that they see the head of the business profiting from their hard work.

People will only want to touch the coat so many times

So what is the solution? The first is, as mentioned earlier, to understand your motivation, and to show integrity in this decision. If you're setting up your business to monetise a hobby, do the numbers. Can you actually make this work by paying people fairly? Can you cover all your costs from your income, even in the early days?  Are you really a business, or is it a hobby? What are others doing?

Ask the big question - what is the mandate? - it a true purpose that could engage and motivate a community and is thus really a social enterprise (think of Eat My Lunch, Agoge and others).  If it is, do the research, and then set the organisation up that way - be honest with your 'customers'.  Invest in getting the structure right and the marketing, the business plan and the success will follow.

The main different between the two options is motivation. For purpose literally does exist for the purpose, for profit to make money. Both can exist beside each other as long as there is clear boundaries, strong structure and true understanding from all the stakeholders including the users of your service. 

But whatever you do, don't think that you can go on forever, relying on the goodwill of others to give you an income.  There's already more than enough for purpose organisations out there doing that, who will value their workers as true volunteers.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A song and dance about nothing

I love a party. I mean I REALLY love a party. Lots of food and drinks, people spilling out everywhere, music belting out in the background.  And I'm very happy for anyone else to have a party. Usually. Mostly.

But over the past couple of years I have become less and less tolerant of parties. In fact it's not even the parties. It's the music - or even more precisely, the pounding bass that comes from speakers at such parties. 

And, unfortunately for me, there are two places near my house that LOVE their bass.  The worse bit for me is the lack of control - I'm in my own house, minding my own business, and I have to put up with the walls vibrating and that horrible 'boom boom boom' that hits you in the solar plexus but doesn't really make sense without the tune, that is conveniently muffled by my locked doors and windows.

I hate that I am feeling pushed out of my own home.  I hate that I have no choice about when that noise begins and ends, and worse, that whether it is once a year or once a week, it is relentless.

Besides, working in the events industry, it staggers me that such noise is even allowed, when I consider the hoops that my own organisation has to jump through to stage an event. 

I'm told that I'm the only person that cares.  In fact in what is not my finest hour, I lost the plot completely last night (picture this: me in my nightie, standing at the front door screaming and swearing at the 'perp' who came down at 11 pm in response to my (very polite I thought) Facebook post requesting the music get turned down and ...mostly... spoke in a measured voice and told me I needed to 'calm down and relax more'. Yep that was really going to work). Maybe I am the ONLY person in a kilometre radius who actually does care.  But you know what, that does not make my response any less valid. And something tells me I'm not ( might be the people that tell me they aren't happy either.. but have either given up or are too scared to say anything).

It is a song and dance about nothing? Do I need to be more tolerant once a week, once a month, once a year?  

Maybe I do, but that fact that I am now considering leaving the home I love because I have absolutely had enough of the neighbourhood, makes me sad beyond measure.  And that is nothing to sing and dance about. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A letter to my future great grandchild

Waikato Vital Signs Community Engagement.

We invite you to imagine a child born in 2076 - perhaps your great-great-grandchild, perhaps a descendant of someone close to you – but probably a child you will never meet.

If you were to write a letter to this child about your hopes and dreams for your community - what would you tell them?

Dear great grandchild,

I hope as you are reading this, you are sitting somewhere on the banks of the Waikato River, coffee (or what ever you young ones drink these days!) in hand, and enjoying the amazing view - and the fantastic cityscape, before you.  The river has always been considered the jewel in the crown of Hamilton City and I hope that the generations who have come after me have continued to care for it, and see it for it's beauty as well as the intrinsic importance of the very thing that resulted in Hamilton being created in the first place. I hope the city still showcases this, and that theres a vibrant cultural life on it's banks.

The Hamilton Gardens, already world famous now, are no doubt another icon in the city, loved by all and the centre of community for many.

As the world gets smaller and smaller due to the digital age we live in already, I imagine that the need to get into the outdoors is greater - and I'd like to think, more desirable than ever. I'm guessing you are probably doing work that hasn't even been invented yet, but that is more to do with computers than people, and for that, if no other reason, I am sure that wide open spaces are in hot demand!

I don't think for a minute though, that in the next 50 year there will be a demise in the social aspect of life - in fact my guess is that it will be more important than ever, for the same reasons as fresh air and exercise will be.  I hope that the people you share your life with are as committed to the well being of each other, and of wider society, as those that share mine. Our family - founders in Hamilton a hundred years and more ago,  has a long and rich history of giving back to the community - I wonder now which part of this will be your calling?  The disadvantaged? The arts? Sport? (that's an unlikely one given your family heritage but who knows!).  Always remember that just a little time given can make a difference to a lot of people.

The world as I know it now has not changed so much I think - perhaps there is more automation...self driving cars, computers and machines performing tasks currently done by people, the faster/stronger/better/bigger way of doing things is certainly part of our culture now.  But people need people regardless - there will always be room for human contact, helping each other, engaging in debate, enjoying music and culture, getting outside and appreciating nature - and I hope that in the future, just as now, these things will always be important to us.

Hamilton will be a multicultural (and I hope welcoming and tolerant) community in 50 years time. I wonder what your heritage will be by then? Will you be bi-lingual? Well travelled? In 60 years you will be an adult and likely have children of your own. What will your dreams and hopes be for them for 2116?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

CELF - Capstone Project: The first 100 days of leadership

Friday, March 25, 2016

Indifference, apathy and a healthy dose of so-whats

So the New Zealand flag will stay as it is.  I'm sorry to hear that - there was something rather nice about the idea of being part of history in the making (or the changing, as it may have been). I voted for change - but not because I wanted to see a different flag, or preferred one over the other.

Anzac Day is barely a holiday any more. And yet the media tells us 'more and more' people are turning up to Dawn Services to honour the fallen soldiers.

And now there's a big debacle about shopping on Good Friday. Should shops be open - we're not a Christian country any more after all....etc etc

Well actually, its been quite some time since my last confession, but here's my take:

The flag.  I voted for change because...well actually because I don't really care about the other one. I really don't.  This stuff about 'we fought under that flag' - I don't get that.  The freedom of NZ was not dependent on the picture on the flag. The flag symbolised NZ, true, but so does a silver fern, a kiwi, an All Black.  I don't care. I just don't care.  I wasn't one of those Kiwi travellers who stitched a flag on their backpack. I wore a silver fern for a while, a kiwi t-shirt from time to time, but the flag? Yeah nah.

Anzac Day...kind of the same.  Call me a cynic but I'd say there's a power of a lot of people who go to a Dawn Service because its an interesting thing to do, not because its a good thing to remember the soldiers who died fighting for NZ.  Or to remember those military who are still serving NZ.  Its entertainment.  A bit like, I'd dare to suggest, singing Christmas carols is for others.  ANZAC day a day off - yes I'm all for that because I don't think it's necessary for the shops to be open every day of the year.  But because it's ANZAC day? Nah, it's just another day to me.

And Easter. Ah Easter. Memories of Easter camp, special services at church, less so eggs and hot cross buns for me.  But most people - probably 90% - don't even see this as the context for Easter.  Should it be a public holiday? Refer previous comment about ANZAC.  But to honour the ''true meaning' of Easter - I don't care. I don't need a particular day to think about the Easter story. And I have a major discomfort that those same 90% who would most likely call the Easter story irrelevant at best, and a mad fairytale at worse, are still more than happy to take the stat day income and leave entitlements.  But actually I don't care.

The things that I am passionate about are not flags, holidays, religious observance, ritual.  

More is the pity that the energy that went into the flag debate - that of the close on 2 million people who voted - could not be put to better use.  What a different country we might live in then.  And issues like the pattern on a flag, the importance of a day in the year, whether the shops are open - those issues would not matter any more anyway.