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Introducing COMMON

Watch as Alex Bogusky, Rob Schuham and John Bielenberg present COMMON, and follow along with the deck below (Download PDF).

 

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We’re confident that benefiting people, communities, society, the environment and future generations is the new advantage in business. We’re launching the COMMON brand in support of this transition from competitive advantage to collaborative advantage.

COMMON is one part community; one part business prototyper; and one part collaborative brand. A living network of creative people rapidly prototyping dozens or hundreds of progressive businesses designed to solve social problems. Connected to a brand that’s community designed, community owned, and community directed.

For updates on COMMON, follow @commonworks on Twitter. If you'd like to get involved, sign up for our FearLess Force and let us know how you could help.

 

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References (37)

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Reader Comments (52)

I agree with comments by Marc and Amy. I think COMMON has great potential as a new model for business, but many social ills cannot be solved by business or product alone.

I am curious to understand more about how COMMON is not just relocating the means and mode of production to another capitalist entity. What is the mechanism in place that prevents COMMON from becoming BIG BROTHER? What level of autonomy do COMMON businesses maintain? What is the danger of COMMON creating a total market monopoly? All economies are a bit command economy and a bit free market economy. There is a reason that the words community, common, communist, and commercial all have the same root. I need to understand more.

I am a firm believer in branding as a vehicle for social change, but brands can easily become exclusive in their attempts to identify and target their audiences. What we need is a more inclusive means for creating social change that considers the real needs of the various subcommunities that make up the larger whole. We need to create brands that look at the differences as well as the commonalities, all toward a common goal.

Thanks for getting this discussion off the ground with COMMON.

Ingrid Walsh
Executive Director
The Common Body
Center for Local and Global Health
Boulder, CO

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteringrid walsh

Ingrid,

Yes, the challenges are great, but we're up to it. We are experiences planetary waves of change full on now. As the waves of change (energy) come faster and faster, this year offers a rare opportunity to revolutionize our reality, and it's going to require vigilant focus and great love to do it.
This is a beautiful platform of Common ground to create, experience and to love!


Blessings

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIN-B-TWEEN

Alex, Rob and John:

I think it is great you guys have launched Common: Collaborative Community / Brand for Social Entreprenuers. You guys could have obviously stayed in your “track” - making good (or great) money. But you’ve all stepped out to go a new direction, one where you (and us) will have to create the path. It’s a true pioneering effort. Good work!

It’s exciting you guys are so committed to leveraging technology and all that we humans have to make things way better out there! I hope to be a part of this venture with you.

A lot is unclear from your presentation – as it would be expected. As an outsider to what you guys have developed, I can only offer my feedback as how I see things. I do have experience in (what I consider to be) social ventures and have raised millions of dollars for them. (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/6.12/minicars.html). I’ve thought about this stuff – for a long time.

Common does seem to be a very new and different animal. It is like you guys have decided to get a piece of land and build a big stage for the best bands in the world and call it Woodstock. Your business is creating the venue and enabling the many bands to play music in front of a large audience. You are enabling people to hear great music and be a part of a festival. But there are tickets to be bought for admittance and a business to be run. It’s hard to judge the value of your design for Common when so little is known about how it functions financially.

Yes, I noticed the “copyright” and “proprietary” tags on your deck. That is nothing to be ashamed about, obviously. Common is a great idea. But it seems to be something new, not a true open network, but some new type of hybrid, or “blended” design. I guess Common could be more like a Clubhouse. Or some type of “accessible” network, but one that is semi-facilitated. It seems to me Common will have to do something that is no fun – truly develop a new model for how this all is going to work in order to make it the global force it could become.

If truly get this off the ground, it may be essential that Common figures out how to compensate contributors in a very equitable way. I’d guess that will take a lot of innovative thinking, trials, and may require I sizable investment into technology to pull this off. Since this is not a non-profit, and the FearlessMedia engine is in front, making all the Common companies and projects famous, how much money the “stage” company is making will factor into how much contributors will want to engage.

Certainly no contributor will expect to be the next Google founder, and everyone’s uptake will be far more modest in scope with this model than starting one’s own company. But my guess, this will be a central aspect to the success of Common. I’m sure you are thinking about it.

The Common model has also made me think a bit about Idealab. Have other business incubators been studied? (Idealab founder Bill Gross is a good guy and might be open to joining in with Common).

And just a stray thought. I hope Common can link with an innovative new product development portal to make the process of building Common companies as innovative as to how they are formed and marketed. (I watched the founders of frogdesign create an amazing product development portal – just a bit too early).

Finally, I hope Common becomes a force for innovative solutions for better living. I see the reference to Common Milk, Soda, Jeans, and Hardware. I see the opportunity for this brand to be about “well behaved companies” (that have integrity), like Paul Newman seems to have done in some way. But I hope Common stands for innovation through and through.

(My mind fast forwards to new products that are cool and could become Common. (I love Saul Grifith’s “Front-End Loader” http://www.onyacycles.com/#bikes - which it seems could use a meaningful sales / distribution channel).

Keep going.

Dan

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan

I hope this comes to Canada! Sign me up :)

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Wahbe

Gemeinschaftsgefuhl is the new capitalism. It is about community feeling, social interest and horizontal striving. When stakeholders dialogue and collaborate everybody is happy and the result is excellent.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKidha

Video update: This was a live webcast during our presentation at the FearLess Cottage. Since you previously had to skip ahead several minutes, we've now edited it down to just the presentation. Thanks.

January 31, 2011 | Registered CommenterFearLess

Best wishes on this venture. In watching this brand take off I am interested in seeing how the community will handle oversight as it is co-opted by entities that may not share the same values intrinsically and if there will be an ego issue even with social entrepreneurs that have an identity tied to branding their own product. It will be beautiful to see COMMON break through these issues.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkia

WOW!
This project reflects the position I take in my crowdsourced book writing project called "The New Trade: peer2peer storytelling!
Check www.linkedstories.com
Great stuff!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterraf

Just a quick thanks to everybody who has left words of support and advice here. We have a lot of work to do going forward and at least as many questions as answers. We're a small team working to make this real so please be patient with us as we stumble and sometimes fall forward. It wont always be pretty but I'm confident we will get there.

-Alex

January 31, 2011 | Registered CommenterFearLess

FIVE OTHER SUGGESTED KEY ATTRIBUTES for COMMON:

1. Barrierlessness. It's key that sharing, participating in Common have no barriers. It should be and FEEL open, friendly and easy. Infuse all that you do and post/make with accessibility as paramount.

2. Persoanlitylessness. The brand of any COMMON actor, action, activity and activation is in the person who uses it, not who creates it, and should be visibly tangible in the community that supports it, feeds and fertilizes it.

3. Shining. Transparency suggests letting light pass through–to be seen, illuminated and open. How light is passed and where it bounces and reflects is KEY to the OUTcubator concept. Keep yourself well polished. Be bright and concave in all actions, plans and ideas to allow the most light to reflect and shine. There is but one light. Don't keep it to yourself.

4. Conflict. Pick our fights carefully and use mass energy to wage COMMONwar. Outshine the enemy of stagnated concentrated greed. But who will be our Red Cross to serve, heal and be the pillar of kindness in all of this? Who will be able to pass from Wall St conference rooms to suburban community gardens with impunity, grace and acceptance? In any COMMON community, persons who have good access to traditional arenas as well as the new should be branded and identified with a Red Cross-like cleanliness and halo of angelic mobility, alacrity and grace.

5. Interbeing--I leave biggest and most important for last. Interbeing is the foundational base of this whole COMMON movement-knowing there is no separation between this and that, between me and all. Exercises in Interbeing are key to make sure we all are highly sensitized and open to the need for interconnectivity as a TRUTH that supports COMMON. WHY we do this is because of the TRUTH of Oneness. Imbue it in all projects, the invitation to become more sensitive, more kind, more loving, more human by playing with, exploring and experiencing Interbeing. When you can see a cloud in a piece of paper, when you can see the Hostess Twinkie in that same piece of paper, you're on the way to moving in this life as an awake, aware being working for joy of the COMMON good to the COMMON people, to the COMMON earth and experiencing the UNCOMMON ecstasy of life when all of Existence hums in our hearts and bodies in the music of All. THIS transcends, politics, economies, religion, morals, societal pattens and traditions, media, etc and brings us into a more fully alive state.
Like the drop of water that suddenly finds the ocean, it cannot be expressed, it simply is.

Involve me--for I am already involved. Ask me, for I ask myself.
Share with me --for my hands and heart are open-my reason to be here.
Surprise me-- for I am open to the higher experience always.
Love yourself-for when we overflow with self love, that overflow is what we have to share.

Let us INCREASE our COMMON love.

Thank you all for this unCOMMON moment.

luaP

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterluaP

Profound goodness of humanity doesn't need to be created, only exposed....


Blessings

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIN-B-TWEEN

IN-B-TWEEN (LOVING your posts--art thou a lover of the Bardo Thodol by any chance?)

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterluaP

I simply have an expansiveness of devotion and compassion for life. We can alter the quality of life in unimagined ways when we let go of the illusion of mind, turning suffering to bliss. It's in this space that is in-b-tween time and timelessness that we are here to play,laugh and heal our world.


Blessings

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIN-B-TWEEN

Today, our culture has gamed itself into a box. The COMMON model is intriguing: part sixties counter-culture, part Six Sigma, we can use process management techniques to reinvent destructive behaviors with ones that actually benefit the community.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Hayashi

Inspiring...as is Umair Haque's blog http://www.bubblegeneration.com/ which covers similar themes

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBetsey Locke

Interesting. Let me see if I've got this right:

COMMON will be a brand.

A community of people will post their ideas for brand extensions (pie bakery, bike shop, old people transport, whatever) on the community site.

Then, the community will (what? vote?) decide which ideas are good enough to earn the winning idea's ideator a 2-week "OUTcubation" at THE LAB wherein all of the OUTcubabies will work together to make their disparate COMMON-brand extension-ideas into reality.

They will be motivated to do so by their collaborative natures and ownership stakes in one another's ideas.

COMMON will make money via equity stakes in every OUTcubated idea.

This sounds like Ycombinator with a transparent application process, meant for the rest of the world outside of silicon valley.

As someone planning on applying to the next Ycombinator class, applying to COMMON would be of interest to me if this afforded the same type of access to VC.

And the shared equity of everyone in the class gives me pause. How many other people would there be? 10-15? What percent are we talking about sharing with our classmates? With the COMMON Management?

And finally, would the business/startup idea itself have to be solutionary to some societal ill? Or could is be a new way to sell concert tickets or a giant cupcake bakery or something like 1000memories.com?

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTwoTon

Great TED-speech from Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index
Maybe it inspires you as much as it did me!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1o3FS0awtk&feature=player_embedded#

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersikko

Just wanted to share this beautiful poem about the importance of becoming 'fearless'


Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson

it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersikko

Outcubabies ftmfwin

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterartemisrex

You should REALLY read John Ruskin's _Unto The Last_. This conversation in the video begins with that book.

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlee

Wow. Inspiring stuff. Are you starting with Boulder and then moving from community to community? Or will you try to make the bucket you drop your stone in as large as possible?

February 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Amazing, ... but I have a feeling that you must probably will be the openers of a new path, the contemporary, attentive, sensitive thinkers of this new 'way to be/to do'.
I hope the velocity of the current scenario also enable you to not only be the thinkers, but also the doers.
As of this dynamics goes massive... in less than 10, 15 years???!! ... really don't know

(ps.: it reminded me of Marshall Mcluhan)

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFlavio Gurgel / Brasil

Common is essential like the Co-op structure, but perhaps more global? Check it out.

March 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Some relevant parallels in case you weren't aware:

- http://participant.net
- http://bcorporation.net
- http://entrepreneurcommons.com
- http://socialedge.org
- http://www.vilcap.com/

etc...

great to see you adding yourselves to the mix. would love to see you integrate the community.

and... an event of interest in the next couple of weeks http://skollworldforum.org

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Lewkowitz

Consumerism with a conscience. Clearly consumerism, largely driven by gotta have it advertising and marketing, has run amuck in good ole USA; As George Carlin put it Americans spend all their money filling their living rooms full of crap. One day they need a bigger house so they can buy more crap. We just witnessed consumer debt bring the country to it knees. I don't think this storm has passed yet. Consumerism is going to be driven by necessity as society matures and sees its limits or perhaps as the middle class gets extinguished. A few years ago when the price of oil spiked rebellious idealist youths started trashing SUV's. I wonder if we will see growing backlash against unnecessary products like these and the disposable cutting sheet. The current trend in consumerism is peaking with people getting trampled at the mall on Black Friday in my opinion. Perhaps I'm missing the point.

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

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