What system are you proposing to intervene in and for what purpose? Can you draw that system?

What problems are you seeking to resolve and where do they sit on the leverage points hierarchy?

What’s your evidence that these problems exist?

Maybe (rather than solve problems) you are seeking to add your energies to already emerging and promising initiatives that you can detect (appreciative inquiry style)?

This section develops as you work through a design process (like GaSADIMET) so keep the entry here minimalist – you don’t want to tie yourself up in working at a poor solution that fails to deal with the problem.

Nonetheless you may well have some initial ‘wild design’ thinking that you want to document at this stage – wild here can mean both whacky and, so far unjustified …

Test concept proposals that appear here with your client (once you know that you are designing to solve a genuine problem). This conversation is very helpful as you get to know if your thinking steps outside any ‘boundaries’ your client has and it shows the client ‘what’s possible’.

This section assumes that you are pitching your project to someone (from whom you need some support). This could be yourself! All projects have a client and this section addresses the benefits you bring to the work.

What do you bring to the situation that is unusual and an advantage to the client? What are your appropriate comptencies and what attention can you give to the project/client?

One unusual advantage is that you are mentored/advised in your projects by Gaia U professionals and you have access to a wide range of design tools, un/learning concepts and the like. Thus your client benefits from the additional resource you bring through being ‘in program’.

Figuring this section out may greatly aid your ability to convert your client into a paying customer.

Just how easy is your project for another person/team to replicate? Does it require unusual skill-flexes and/or physical resources that make it hard to copy? How readily could your project augment another project to create a larger holon?

Note that, for a conventional enterprise, hard-to-copy is an advantgage – it keeps the competition at bay. For ecsocial projects designed to go viral and change the world this may be a strong disadvantage – if people can’t appropriate it, it may not be appropriate.

Something in the middle might be a project that can be franchised (look up social franchise) – that is, it is easier/faster for someone to buy in your development to date than it is to start from scratch and yet, when they are up and running, they have a more-or-less autonomous node in a network.

These are people and/or organizations you are seeking to affect. You want them to do something different as a result of your designed intervention (your project). To be realistic, for each boundary partner you could list changes you consider essential (must see), changes you’d be pleased to see (like to see) and changes that would delight you (love to see).

Think of ways that some boundary partners can also be paying customers (this will help fund the project), other users will not be.

Seperate out those who will being paying and make sure you can service them with sufficient attention to warrant their investment in your project.

Look for projects that already exist and that resolve some of the problems you are seeking to tackle. Maybe these do not exist in your area and you are seeking to import them, maybe they do exist but are not extensive enough to meet your needs, maybe you have a unique perspective that means other projects are a paradigm away from your conception.

In any case surveying the overall situation for models you can adapt, allies doing similar work who can mentor/support you to bring your projects to better fruition is a worthwhile actiivty.

Watch out for creating unnecessary new projects that soak up resources when existing projects with similar goals are struggling – there is a line to be thought about here – adding to an existing project could move you and that project into effective action faster than starting from scratch … show that you have considered this possibility.

You can set goals (what behavior changes?) and milestones (by when will they have made these changes?) for each of your boundary partners – write these down here (as key metrics) so you can evaluate the progress of your project later.

Note that you too can be one of your boundary partners (that is, your project is designed to help you do things differently too) so add in your goals/milestones for yourself.

It is worth while to think of a pithy sentence that describes your project, perhaps in terms of an existing meme that is already understood.

For example we often describe Gaia U as ‘home schooling for adults’. This enables people to understand our essence in a flash.

Look for a meme you can invoke for your project …

Here you consider ‘in’ and ”out’ channels of communication.

‘In’ channels are the ones you use to pull in the necessary information, knowledge and mentoring services that help you do a great job and build your skills. These are your ‘references’ and they show that you have reviewed the field in order to be up-to-date and well-informed.

‘Out’ channels are for disseminating your work (with a view to (a) assisting development in the field and (b) having more clients seek out your talents.

How will you let people know about your work?

Amongst your boundary partners there will be the people who are thrilled by your proposed project and will want to actively contribute from the outset. Others will not step up until later, when the project is past pioneer stage.

Work with the early adopters rather than struggle to get everyone on board. Use their feedback and ‘user stories’ to help refine future projects and then reach out to the later adopters.

Getting practice at estimating the costs of doing a project is deeply valuable. We need to be good at this if we expect to make a living through freelancing (an increasingly common means of livelihood in these transition times).

Think of costs in stages and not too far into the future – the best is to figure out your ongoing ‘burn rate’ (both fixed and variable costs) and see how that intersects with any expected revenue that will flow back to you.

When the burn rate (outflow) matches the revenue in-flow you have broken-even. That’s a great place to get to just as soon as you can.

Some classic (very approximate) cost structures (you are not constrained to these): –

Professional services = 1/3 billable time (including time you might buy in from sub-contractors), 1/3 overheads and unbillable expenses, 1/3 margin (to cover unbillable hours, reinvestment, taxes, vacations …)

Making things = 1/4 materials, 1/4 labor, 1/4 overheads. 1/4 margin.

Teaching things = 1/2 teaching hours and 1/4 preparations and 1/4 admin and margin.

Selling things = cost of thing to you plus between 30 to 300%

For enterprises the primary revenue stream comes from sales. They are fund earning.

Projects that rely on grants and gifts are fund raising.

The money available from foundations, governments and other fund giving agencies is in steep decline and many fund raising non-profits are having to reconfigure to become fund earning.

That’s a tough transition to make as the ways of thinking (fund earning thinking/skills versus fund raising thinking/skills) are surprisingly far apart. Habituated fund raisers especially find it hard to even think about ‘doing business’ and becoming earners.

Choose your model – fund earning is faster, more flexible and  less addictive. Some would say more authentic too as you get paid for providing value to someone else.

If your client can’t tell that your project is valuable to them and they are not willing to pay for it then you have valuable feedback to help you redesign the project so that it’s value proposition is obvious.

Go this fund earning route if you can.

Design Your Own Lean Project Template