Reminding Yourself Where You Are Going

I generally keep voice memos or written journals around as outlets for my thoughts when I am not regularly able to connect with people to share what is on my mind.  I try to purge them into a digital format fairly quickly to prevent clutter.  I don’t recall why I recorded this segment, but I ran across it today and it made me smile.

Recorded October 4th, 2010 4:40pm

“I see Gangplank being the epicenter of economic change in the East Valley and the uniting force of the creative class that lives there.  Gangplank will be a vehicle to get people involved where they live again.  It will also bring creativity back to kids it is involved with.  It will ooze awesome.”

The Effects of Shifting/Resetting on Society

If you are listening. A lot of people are talking about a “new norm”, a “reset” or a “shift”.  Largely this discussion is around economics and growing concerns of debt.  In reality it is about a lot more than that.

Every so often a significant transformation happens.  Five recent transformations:

  1. The Industrial Revolution
  2. Age of Steam and Railways
  3. Age of Steel, Electricity and Heavy Engineering
  4. Age of Oil, Automobiles and Mass Production
  5. Age of Information and Telecommunications

During each one of these shifts/transformations/resets more than the economy was changed.  Social norms are impacted as well.

  • Homes
  • Work Places
  • Educational Systems
  • The Way We Govern
  • How We Spend Our Liesure Time

I am excited to be living in a period of transition and doing work with Integrum and Gangplank tackling how these issues play out.  I love talking abouf this stuff.  Let’s chat over a beer sometime.

Coworking Space vs Collaborative Workspace

When talking about Gangplank I always struggle to consider it to have anything to do with coworking.  After doing some reading on collaborative learning vs. cooperative learning, I believe I can better articulate the difference between collaborative workspaces and coworking spaces.

Coworking spaces are places that allow people from various backgrounds to work in the same physical space.  They are grouped by proximity, but often not by anything more than that.  It is very likely that there may be little meaningful interaction between the workers of the space, short of water cooler talk.

In contrast collaborative spaces are very intentional about their structure.  They are designed for the participants to co-labor.   All the participants in the space are engaged in work towards a stated objective.  Everyone must contribute towards that objective.

When I look at Gangplank, we have set of initiatives that we are working towards, a defined objective.  In exchange for physical space participants agree to labor together towards meeting those initiatives.

It is this simple designation that leads me to not use the term coworking space, but instead use collaborative workspace. Any questions?

Desert Code Camp 2011.1

Saturday April 2nd @ Chandler-Gilbert Community College Pecos Campus

Desert Code Camp has opened it’s call for suggestions.  This is a great FREE event that brings together technologists of all kinds together at a single location to learn (while feeding them breakfast and lunch) new technologies, improve on existing technology or share your favorite technology.  There has been a good dynamic languages track in addition to a strong Microsoft track.  There has been a track for kids (Gangplank Jr) and even sessions on sales or running a business.

Project Management In Small Shops

This Code Camp will feature an agile track being put together by the Phoenix SCRUM User Group as well.  I am excited to see this come together and the diversity of the Desert Code Camp expand every time they announce a new one.  This is a conference that has been inspecting and adapting over the years (adding a speaker dinner and after party even) and has become a real asset to the community.  I hope that you will support it and that we will see you there!

Things you can do to help:

Entrepreneurs Put Capital to Work for Economic Growth

It doesn’t matter what country, society or region an entrepreneur operates within.  They will put capital to work to help stimulate the economy.  As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week the anchors at Gangplank decided to embark on a social experiment.  We realized that we are lucky to live a part of the world where access to capital is fairly easy found, to pursue our ideas.  We understand that is not the case across the globe.

We decided to use KIVA to create the Global Entrepreneurship Week Challenge.  Our first target was Jones Matagaro Nyamasege from Kenya.  He was looking for $1,000.  Our mission was to get him fully funded and get the Gangplank KIVA team to get $2000 into the system.  Amazingly within the first 24 hours we already had Jones fully funded.  We started with a second selection, Noel Pandero from the Philippines.  He was funded within a day.  We are now looking to fund Ruben Fernando from Bolivia.  Help us out and join the challenge!

Building Arizona’s Future: Jobs, Innovation and Competitiveness

This past April I attended the 96th Arizona Town Hall in Tucson Arizona.  The New Economy: A Guide For Arizona serves as background information on the event.  The result of the Town Hall was a set of recommendations (pdf).  Recently at Mesa Community College I was asked to speak about the experience and highlight my recommendations.  Below is my summary.

The Process

The process was good discussion, but it often felt that things were watered down quite a bit by the time they got recorded.  However, at the final session I saw the passion come back out and some good middle ground was found on a number of difficult issues.  If only our legislatures could come to agreement in this fashion.

Economic Development

Economic Development has changed.  It used to be about material resources and manufacturing infrastructure.  That is changing and now creative people are the most valuable resource.  Good companies move to where good people.  We must invest in human and social capital to be a player in the future.

Based on that I believe the following recommendations should have priority and we should concentrate on making them a reality.

Slide Rock

8. Preserve Quality of Life

We need to attract good people in the short term to fill the needs of growing companies emerging in the new economy.  Also, we need to retain the quality creators that are already here.  We can do this by preserving the quality of life.

a. Cultivate the arts, sports and other recreational amenities.

We need creatives to get involved with their local art scene.  Bring relevant programming to the great Performing Arts Centers many cities have.  Support existing programming and work to create new and diverse programs.  We need to convert empty buildings into Art galleries, centers for creation and music.

b. Preserve our natural and cultural resources.

We need to get the state legislature to restore funding to our State Park system and find ways to make sure it stays healthy.

c. Develop strong sense of place in our communities.

We need to encourage density and support third places that build a sense of place.

1. Education

We must start building our future now.  Our future lies in our youth.  We need to radically transform education to be a leader in how we restore creativity to schools.

a. Improve funding and rigorous statewide standards to meet workforce needs of business and industry.

It is time we get serious about funding schools and we restore learning to it’s roots and allow kids to explore and create.

7. Broadening the Tax Base

We need to have the proper way to pay for quality of life issues.  The best people want to live in a quality place.  We have to stop looking to be the Walmart of the world.  Low cost living, education and infrastructure attracts the people and employers that have bleak place in the future economy.

a. Implement a broad-based, diversified, and stable tax structure that does not rely disproportionately on sales tax.

We have to explore raising property taxes or finding other ways to balance providing necessary infrastructure.

11. Other Economic Development Actions

We need to grow businesses as much if not more than recruit them and then help them grow.  Jobs don’t create jobs.  Companies create jobs.  We need to focus on creating companies.

a. Fund business incubators, a competitive small grant program for start-ups and existing small businesses, and other small business assistance programs.

2. Strategic Planning

d. Address both recruitment of new businesses and retention of businesses and talent already present in Arizona.

4. Capital Formation

We need to have capital available for those companies as they grow.

d. Encourage AZ individuals, foundations, and industry to invest in an AZ “fund of funds” to provide venture captial for the early-stage development of new companies.

We need people to invest in seed funds to encourage creation of new businesses.

6. Infrastructure

We need a quality infrastructure to promote growth.

a. Create a networked business environment through advances in our transportation system and data connectivity.

12. Other Activities that Influence Economic Development

a. Pursue comprehensive, multimodal transportation planning and design programs.


Don’t wait on the state legislature, you can help do this RIGHT now.  Look to entrepreneurs to get the ball rolling.  Participate in your local government and start making a difference.  Simply voting can start to unlock necessary change.  Be active in our future!

You Can’t Do Collaboration Without Being a Collaborator

In various software development circles I hear the phrase “You can’t do Agile, you have to be Agile”.  This makes sense to me so never thought much about it.  However, when asked about Gangplank and describing it we choose say collaborative workspace over coworking, but it’s hard to get people to understand that difference.

It wasn’t until I read Johanna Rotham’s Six Behaviors to Consider for an Agile Teamthat it really hit home.  It made sense.  “You can’t do collaboration, you have to be a collaborator”.  In a nutshell, we didn’t create Gangplank because it’s what we do, we created Gangplank because it’s who we are.  This might sound like a trivial subtlety, but I think it’s really what makes Gangplank work.

Coworking is a commodity. It is a race to the bottom.

I read  “A case against ‘free trial coworking‘” by Alex Hillman from IndyHall and it reminded why I can’t relate to the coworking movement.  I purposefully use the word collaborative workspace when talking about Gangplank because implying that there is a coworking component is a misleading comparison.

Coworking claims to be trans-formative and future thinking.  Changing how people work and think about work, but in reality it is a lie.  It highlights independence of the worker, but still structures itself on old economy models of thinking.

Don’t believe me?  Let’s examine a single phrase from this article to highlight the point.

‘’s unwise in an early stage business to give ANYTHING away that you wouldn’t otherwise charge for..’

That is conventional wisdom.  That if you give something away it costs what you gave. The more you have the less I have.  The more I share the more I lose.  This is a dying model.  Repackaging it as a revolution by telling the participants they have ‘independence’ is disingenuous.

The truth is charging for space turns the relationship into a transaction and destroys the ability for real community to flourish.  Coworking is a commodity.  It is a race to the bottom.

At Gangplank we choose to give our space away for free.  All the time, not just on a trial basis. When you give something away, you benefit more than the recipient does.  The act of being generous makes you rich beyond measure, and as the goods or services spread through the community, everyone benefits.  Giving space as a gift with no reciprocity allows us to experiment and create.  We seek to help people be dangerous and challenge the status quo. It’s not for everyone, but it’s how we see the world and we hope to help the right people change their view of the world and how they contribute back to it.  We want to give them the gift of finding the creator within themselves.

Metro Phoenix has been hit harder than most during this recession.  We feel that giving to the community freely let’s us all prosper more quickly.  It increases the quality of bond between our members and ultimately strengthens our community.  It leaves an obligation for our members to help the next person.  The gift creates a surplus as it spreads and ultimately gives us joy.

The argument we always hear is ‘Some one has to pay for it.  You can’t run a space for free’.  The truth is if you were remarkable you would find a way to give it away for free.

The reason Gangplank is hard to quantify is because its worth something more than we could ever charge in rent.

Failure Does Not Equal Humiliation

CEO of Local Motors John Rogers said “We make you feel wanted and we make you feel knowledgeable.” today while talking about how they treat their customers. James Archer brought up “On making people feel knowledgeable, I’ve often wondered about the “fail culture” at GP. Humiliation leads to not trying?”

My response is that a community is fundamentally broken if it equates failure to humiliation.  A truly collaborative and innovative community sees the act of trying the impossible and the journey of getting there as thing to be proud about.  The resulting success or failure is merely a by product of that journey.  Gangplank is not encouraging people to fail.  It is encouraging people to try things beyond their comfort level.  Be Dangerous.  We talk about failure because it is important that we have a culture where it is OK to fail.  That if you try and fail you will not be shunned, ridiculed or humiliated.  Instead you will be picked up, dusted off and sent back to try again.

We need to find the sweet spot between supportive and cheer leading.

The New Economy: A Guide For Arizona

Getting ready for the 96th Arizona Town Hall, I am reading their report Building Arizona’s Future: Jobs, Innovation & Competitiveness.  It references a 1999 paper from the Morrison Institute The New Economy: A Guide for Arizona.  It lists eight principles that underpin the new economy…

  1. Technology is a given
  2. Globalization is here to stay
  3. Knowledge builds wealth
  4. People are the most important raw material
  5. There is no such thing as a smooth ride
  6. Competition is relentless
  7. Alliances are the way to get things done
  8. Place still matters

Those  items in bold are the very thing that Gangplank espouses and I will be reminding the Town Hall the importance of them.  Most importantly, I will remind them that good and talented people are the key.

Five foundations found to be critical based off this study were

  1. Connecting (telecommunications infrastructure)
  2. E-Government (getting government on-line for faster/better service)
  3. E-Learning (distance learning and technology in classrooms)
  4. Creative Communities (amenity-rich communities with strong quality of place)
  5. Knowledge leaders, entrepreneurs and capital (higher education, R&D, tech transfer, incubation and VC)

Again those items highlighted are the essence of Gangplank.  We are proud that the City of Chandler is standing as a strong supporter in providing ALL of these things and why we think they will be the CORE of the Sun Corridor.

Please leave comments to tell me I’m wrong, stupid and idiotic.  I am looking for motivation.