Business Seed - Workshop

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It all begins with the Business Seed.

  • The Seed is the source of everything that the business will become.
  • The Seed is alive. A shift in language:

Our language traditionally uses mechanical metaphors, a throw back to the industrial revolution (running like a well oiled machine, firing on all pistons, get it in gear, etc). The Human Side of Enterprise ( (McGregor - look up. Up until 1960, nothing was written about the human side of business, only about the machine side - all about machines, not people. If business is alive, how we think about it and talk about it has to be different. Our language has to come out of biology and the natural world and this language is now evolving. People who work in a business need to be treated as whole. If you have a naturally formed business, work will flow naturally from it.

  • Starts with an Idea:

Important because:

  • A healthy business is a source of renewable energy - every time you go to it, it will give you energy. Just belonging to a natural business feeds the people, community, environment.
  • Photosysthesis: business can take energy in and transform it into something (guitar pedals) Money is just stored energy that can get released when it is spent. If we get the seed right, we have a source of renewable energy. People get burned out because they expend energy but don't taking any energy in.
  • Seed creates a focus: your North. Otherwise all the energy gets dissipated
  • generative - means that everything grows from it, from the seed: the unfolding. The unfolding is a transition that you go through that evolves into something new.

components: (See plant diagram)

Relationship: love and competency. For relationship between IT and the person to be healthy, there has to be both love (for IT) and competency. You may love what you do, but if you can't bring a level competency to it, then you don't have a business. Also must have good habits - if you don't have the habits/discipline to do your work efficiently, you don't have a business

Deep Root: All of this sits on a deep root. Adrienne's deep root is animal ethics, for example. Her business might be many different things, but there has to be animal ethics or you don't have anything. Siteks: their deep root was their relationship with grandmother. In general, people who have a purpose in life seem to have a deep root that is identifiable. What comes out of that root is a product, service, etc.

IT: essentially the DNA of the business

Seeds grow in ecosystems: See diagram.

Take SEED and put it into its natural environment, and then you can see how it might grow, and what might affect the seed. Ecosystems are alive and changing. If you took FOODLAB out of the picture, the ecosystem in which is functions would still exist without it. Traditional business - ecosystem is completely ignored except in the form of competitors to their business. When you look at your environment, you begin to decide who you want to develop deeper relationships with and remember that this relationship goes both ways - think about how can you and they feed and support each other? Business leaders are just now beginning to talk about business ecosystems (

Research by community members begins to identify trends in the ecosystem - so person can begin to think about how they might work with those trends. Go with the energy flow - not trying to fight agains the ecosystem and trends, but learn to identify them and work with them.

Economic Yield - financials, making revenue

Community yield - increasing numbers of healthy, productive relationships

Envionmental yield: reduction of waste, toxicity, energy and water use, etc.

Also, look at the yields for other entities within your ecosystem: If another business says "we are better because of our work with you",they will work on your behalf because they want you there. Mutual benefit. Ex: It will be better for vets that Adrienne is there and they will want her there. Her work benefits vets, animals and Adrienne.

You should not be in a relationship with someone else in the ecosystem if you can't be a good partner. That's OK, don't have to be in relationship with everyone in your ecosystem.

We are trying to get a triple bottom line yield, not just for ourselves, but for those we work with.

Case Study: Detread - Audra Carson

IT: getting tires out of neighborhoods - clean up, detoxification, reduce mosquito infestations, etc.

Deep Root: Empowerment (Took about 4 months to find it for Audra) she is trying to empower neighborhoods so they can grow enough capacity to get the tires out. If they can do that, what else will they be able to do?

DNA (see DNA 2 diagram): Solution: new products made from old tires. She may work with Ford Motor Co. In addition, Ford is in a position to help Audra with clean up with employee volunteers.

Expertise: Brightmoor neighborhood had a big tire problem; the state had questions about tires - they all called Audra. She has developed a huge competency in tires and is a self taught expert now.

Here's what we learned:

Learning Process - you learn as much about yourself as you do about your business

Very Personal Outcomes - unique outcomes

Develops Naturally - this process takes as long as its gonna take - no strict time schedule. Bob says: Most business models would be found in the fiction section of the library. When people develop of business model, they have a time restriction and usually end up making things up.

Steward commitment - stewardship takes a lot of energy

Community input = power. Power is in the community. Sorta hard to define, each community is different.

When you create the SEED, you're really just at the beginning.

Discussion Portion:

Business accelerators: if you want to create a business and flip it quickly, that's the model that works. But if you want to grow a business to last and is for you, don't use that model. The word "serial" - in front of anything is pretty suspicious. People think that a serial entrepreneur is a good thing - not necessarily true. Decisions made just to puff up a business and make it look good to sell don't help the workers or community.

Developing naturally: Group of people with their own perspective brings together really great stuff that works well.

Ideas evolve over this process - original idea almost changes completely after going through this process. Adrienne: initial thought: form a small retail business; present thought: consulting/service business. She has also formed relationships with people she hadn't thought of in the beginning - MHS, Purdue University for their research.

How does an existing business (going thru this process) change gears: Bob: they have to be under a certain amount of stress in order to thru a change. How do you change from one culture to another? The stress allows you to acknowledge the need to change, and to transition to a different paradigm. This gives you a chance to identify what you really want to do and what you don't want to do. You have to be able to love your work. In addition to stress, you have to have leadership - won't work without it.

Finding the deep root: keep looking until you find stuff that not gonna move - unchangeable. Audra: empowerment Pill Pouch: Stella's story Adrienne: animal ethics Matt Dibble: Being able to work ON things instead of IN the busyness of everyday tasks. (Paul Hawkins Growing a Business - look this up - free online?)

Bob: re, deep roots: Breeze Cab: it was a great and exciting and worthwhile business model, but the guy who was doing this business didn't really have the deep root necessary to carry this through.

This model is not for the impatient person. You must be thoughtful, deliberate and patient. You should not move faster than your comfort zone. This process takes as long as necessary, and this can be a long time. There is a personality type that works well in this environment and it has to be a good match for you. Very much wrapped up in the energy of the person.

You need different people to balance a business - accelerator and slow moving

Money is not the focal point of this business development model. Model is important in order to be able to move forward, but focusing on the money too much might distract you from other opportunities that could be more helpful, healthy and lucrative.

Might have a deep root that you aren't quite aware of or can't quite articulate, but you know it's still there (Doug)

Being purposeful in your work can be hard to do. You need to figure out how you will spend your time, what you will and will not do to move your business along. Maybe you shouldn't answer every email, for example.

Deep Roots: If you haven't yet found it, its something that is part of your psyche and your experience that provides a kind of compass that directs your work. It just kinda "comes out"