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Exactly one month ago I had the opportunity to meet with the Leader to Leader Institute in New York. This organization was founded Peter Drucker (perhaps the world's foremost pioneer of management theory) and Frances Hesselbein (former CEO of Girl Scouts USA and current President of the Institute). Upon beginning the meeting, I was handed a book called The Five Most Important Questions.
I skimmed through this book earlier, however this morning read the entire book: front to back.

SoJo's focus right now is ensuring our product is ready for Nov.26, however the launch of our open Beta is also connected to the public launch of SoJo as an organization. And thus, I found this book a timely read to help articulate answers to some of the big organizational questions that I've been thinking about for a while.

The book lays out 5 relatively straightforward questions; however it clearly states the importance of flexibility and re-evaluation of all these questions throughout the development of an organization. As it stands, here are my thoughts on some of these big questions.

What is our mission?
To be the starting point and/or critical support in the journeys of youth as they build projects to address unmet social needs and environmental challenges (social ventures).

Who is our customer?
A customer (defined as one who values your service, wants what you offer and feels it's important to them), in SoJo's case are youth who need support in channelling their good intentions, passion and ideas into action.
In Phase 1, our customers are the users of the tool we are creating.

What do our customers (users) value?
SoJo is being co-created by its users. With nearly 300 closed Beta testers and our plan to open a half-complete Beta to all of our users, we are inviting our customers to tell us directly what they value and what they want.

From preliminary research, SoJo can say with confidence that our users will value a website that aggregates relevant information and resources in one place. Our Phase 2 product will be determined directly by the users themselves.

What are our Results?
The book makes a distinction between short-term accomplishments and long-term change, as well as the importance of measuring objectives. We are currently creating mechanisms to measure our goals, which are:

1) To increase the number of youth-initiated social ventures
2) To increase the probability of success of youth-initiated social ventures.

Our long-term change is intrinsically linked with our vision, which is to create a world and associated supports that enable individuals to embody socially entrepreneurial characteristics in everyday activities. This is very abstract, similar to our world-shaking vision and will get further articulated with time as, the more shorter-term accomplishments materialize

What is your Plan?
"Steadfast in Direction, Flexible in Execution" was used to describe how to approach the plan. With a clear mission and concrete goals, SoJo has a fairly good idea of what direction its headed. It is possible that our users tell us to change direction, or abandon the project all together, however until they tell us otherwise, we will be focused on building an online learning tool that will accomplish our mission. The How is constantly changing, however our Why will remain constant.

I will write an update to these questions in a few months, informed by the feedback provided by our users.

 


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