Over the past several months I’ve had the opportunity to work with an awesome group of people, many of whom I’ve never actually met in person, on a project that truly exemplifies the art of 21st century collaboration. The idea for Blended Profit was born when a friend and colleague, Brian Weinberg, recognized the growing energy and enthusiasm of a large population of people who are eager to find ways to support environmental sustainability and social progress through their individual, everyday actions. The problem? At the time there existed no comprehensive resource to provide these folks an easy way to understand how to support a brighter future on an everyday basis. Enter Blended Profit: “an online platform that aggregates relevant actionable resources for a community of people committed to a lifestyle that supports good business. By shifting how we interact with business through our societal roles, we can grow the good economy together.”
Not only is the project itself an exciting one, but so is the process by which it took shape. Brian and the team decided to look at each individual role that one might play on a daily basis – consumer, student, advocate, professional, entrepreneur, etc – and provide educational resources for how to support the “good economy” in each of these roles. Brian quickly put together a team of experts who could help build out resource center, as well as a marketing team and design team. This team included folks from DC, San Francisco, Dallas, and elsewhere. This is where the fun started. How would a group of busy professionals, many of whom had no connection to the project besides a general interest and their trust in Brian, and all of whom were already overworked and over-committed, come together to deliver a living product like the resource center?
Actually, given the free tools that are out there today, it was pretty simple (well…don’t tell Brian that). We held virtual “office hours” on Sundays via Google Plus Hangouts, where we would all provide updates on how our individual pieces were coming along. We’d brainstorm during these sessions and provide each other with ideas and feedback. We got to know each other. Brian managed our deliverables using a platform called Trello, which is a free online project management platform. On Trello, we could all see the latest versions of each other’s work in real time, and keep ourselves accountable against deadlines. Once the resource center was launched, Brian provided us a login to manage our own pages so that we could be responsive to our own user communities on the site. Also, he handed over the keys to the Twitter handle and Facebook page to the whole team, so we could support ongoing social media distribution. As a team, we found our groove and aimed for an ideal blend between moving quickly and being able to get our work done individually, and getting just enough group time to focus our ideas and bring cohesion to the overall project.
I know many of you are saying, yeah yeah, this is old news! Yes, these tools have been around, but if you haven’t already, I’d really encourage you to dream up a project and get a group of pals to experiment in working this way. It’s been an educational experience in itself for me, and it forces me to consider how inefficiently we tend to work in many other environments. This is not to say that I don’t value face-to-face interaction (in fact our team got together for dinner just the other day), but there is so much that can be done in this new context of open collaboration. It’s a liberating feeling to produce something real and tangible without being bound by the cage of an office, a nine to five, and hours of inefficient meetings every week.
Shameless Plug: If you’re interested in learning more about Blended Profit, tune in to our livestreamed TV Show every Tuesday night at 8pm EST or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re open for ideas!
And if you want to get up close and personal with Blended Profit, check out our UnSectored Talk on September 26th: “Choose With Your Wallet: Making Conscious Consumption a Priority.” We hope to see you there!