Week 4 – Business As Unusual
General Eisenhower, definitely NOT yellow.

Week 4 – Business As Unusual

Those who can do, those who can’t, Chris Do?

I am not sure what bothers me so much about this. Maybe the fact that Garfield is clearly not yellow, I don’t care what inflexion and tone you use, or maybe it is just his Sage-on-the-stage shtick; it feels a bit learn-how-to-make-a-million-in-real-estate at the Airport Sheraton this weekend. I don’t like the one size fits all, listen to what worked for me and do what I say. Perhaps he is joining the list that includes Manchipp for the same reason; not because he is wrong, not because I don’t like him and not because he isn’t good at what he does, but because – it is just not for me, and it is last generation’s strategy, or because it seems to make no reference to ethics or morals…just money, it just seems so small – it lacks any kind of true ambition, it is soulless.

Meanwhile, I’m struggling to find the correct audience for my business plan or report, partly because I don’t want a business per se. This does not stem from a naïve belief in some sort of utopian ideal, I’m not looking to create a Helicon Home Colony – at least I hope it isn’t naîve. I too desire and need services and objects that others create and provide, I am not against money.

But I think that I fundamentally believe that endeavours to not benefit from competition.

I use fundamentally in its meaning as a base, a starting point. I still need to define what I exactly mean by competition. And I have no real proof of this; however, if competition serves as a motivator in curing cancer, or solving homelessness, would collaboration not make that easier? Would it not be more enjoyable if I could watch the entertainment I want on one platform, rather than having to subscribe to an increasingly fragmenting number of streaming services. Of course it would, until invariably this monopoly leads to price increases or other decisions detrimental to the user. competition, therefore, serves as a balancing power to human greed. It is not money that is the root of all evil, it is the love of money (and fame and power) that is. Competition works well in balancing power, but does it really help during creation.

The plan is for my idea to make money so that it sustains itself, but it is not meant as a traditional business that generates wealth for investors or shareholders. Stakeholders are who are important, and stakeholders include a much larger number of individuals than those who would be directly involved in it. these stakeholders need to be identified and included as collaborators both of the obvious and silent kind.

I have decided though to follow the traditional plan for now – a low-fi model for a future, perhaps more appropriate report. As Eisenhower said, ‘Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.‘ Following the common structure of a business plan does mean answering questions that (one hopes) lead to insights and better decisions.

The planning is further complicated by my desire to not state what activities this entity will be engaged in – other than the fact that they will be design-related and I expect there to be physical outputs of some sort.

I looked for and at similar entities, the former Xerox PARC (now just PARC) and the MIT Media Lab are not institutions I would dare to compare my endeavour to, nor think tanks, such as Human Rights Watch or The Rand Corporation, but they are examples of successful organisations that spend a lot of time and money doing research in the respective fields, important to them – a specific agenda but no specific output.

I looked at smaller groups that operate further from the mainstream such as Oulipo, which I can’t tell still exists or not, and the – almost obvious – Ougrapo. 7×7.la is doing something really interesting in terms of collaboration, I really enjoy the concept and yet am disappointed by the results that I have seen so far. Perhaps – without understanding the full inner workings – because it feels more like cooperation at best, or Free Jazz; there is no shared goal, but a dialogue between to creators.

My vision includes elements of collaboration and seeks to accommodate joint/group projects, but my interest lies in cross-pollination and learning via osmosis.

Warhol’s The Factory and even elements of Factory Records are also interesting and inspirations for this idea. The former’s freedom from discipline and medium and the latter’s interesting cataloguing methods.

The Space

Having a physical space increases overhead significantly, which is why I considered it carefully and ultimately decided that a space was a greater value than its cost. Online petitions may sometimes work, but physical demonstrations, if nothing else, bring an issue to the forefront.

Having a physical space is also a bold statement of intent and a strong belief in its value and any potential partners/members would have to share the commitment via their cheque books (online payments are fine too.) The flip side of this is a pay-to-play situation in which ideal candidates might be not economically capable of participating and less-than-ideal candidates pay to have a hobby. More on that conundrum later.

This space will have to flexible for uses in exhibiting, events, lectures, workshops, production…
I will use a specific space for the report, knowing full well that it would not be this actual space in the future. It will be a space that has the desired attributes of a future space.

The Name

While it is true (and by true, I probably heard it on a fictional TV show) that hostage-takers are less likely to kill you the more that they know about you, and naming a child can help their survival it can also be a distraction. A name matters and it could even be of benefit at this stage, but naming can also lead to wasted time and unnecessary discussion/opinion sharing. Shetsand Jarks was one of my early favourites, which just shows how naming things can often descend into smug, ‘clever’ allusions. So for now, it will appear as [Insert Name Here] to be replaced with a more appropriate name closer to launch.


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