Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Week 8 Update

Business Plan Writing Update
Last weekend I submitted the first draft of our business plan, which made it really clear which areas my co-founder team has spent a lot of energy on and which we have not gotten to as deeply. In particular I felt like I was doing a lot of extrapolating to write the operations section, which wasn't terrible, but I was aware that these were things that we really need to discuss more. My priority on this for future meetings is job/role descriptions.

Also I am hoping to do some primary market research through surveys, but we still need to finish hashing out what we want to ask in our informational interviews. The good news is that we have so many contacts in our target markets, but there are also many that I do not want to hurt relationships by making wasteful/less than productive use of their time.

Co-founder Update
We had a really productive meeting yesterday that I felt good about. It sounds like we are in good alignment in terms of expectations now. And we reached the decision to go with a B-corp model. Next up I will be revisiting our financial model to work through what that will likely mean for our expected revenue from donations, which will no longer be able to take advantage of matching donations.

Sadly one of the original group who had help us start to sketch out this idea has decided that she needs to be placing her energy elsewhere right now. I really respect her self-awareness and how seriously she considered where she was in her life right now. This brings us down to 3 co-founders, and I am thinking about what sorts of skill sets we will need to acquire from outside this group.

Whats in a Name?
The naming process class material was particularly timely, as name was brought up again in our co-founder meeting. C would really like use the company name to honor the memory of someone, and I am still mulling the branding implications and potential opportunity costs. I don't have a really viable option to offer though. I know I tend to be a functional/descriptive namer. We definitely need a brainstorming session.

One of the pieces from the online lecture that really jumped out to me was the point about creative testing names with actual people from your customer groups/markets. I see how importantly and potentially different this would shape your naming results, but it is something I would not and did not think of doing on my own. I am excited about the idea though.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Users versus Customers

One of the things that is definitely a consideration for our organization will be considering the wants and needs of both customers and users.

Our initial brainstorm for customers included:

  • For-profit STEM company in the US
  • For-profit STEM company outside of the US
  • STEAM organizations (e.g. local, non-profits)
  • Event host organizations in US & UK
  • Event host organizations in non-Anglo locations
  • Educational organizations
  • Individuals invested in social justice
  • Individuals from marginalized groups

I think that for the initial market, it makes sense to focus on the US market and B2B customers. The companies would tend to have more cash flow to invest in workshops like this, but event hosts offer a great opportunity to demonstrate and refine the value of the workshops. I am still thinking about more specifically how to target customers though.

One of the things that has come up in conversation though is how different the motivations and interest from users as to what they would like to get out of the workshops. Thinking about non-customer users, the profiles that we were considering included:

  • Trainers
  • Employees at STEM company that offers one of our workshops
  • Individuals from marginalized groups
  • Individuals invested in social justice

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Products, Services & Experiences

Supporting Intersectional Groups and Individuals in STEAM

Impostor Syndrome Workshop
Impostor Syndrome has been described as the feeling that you aren’t really qualified for the work you are doing and will be discovered as a fraud.1 Many women, People of Color, QUILTBAG persons, and others from marginalized groups deal with this feeling, especially when they’ve been socialized to value other’s opinions of their work above their own. This workshop, incorporating exercises developed by the AI and the <org name>, is aimed at helping attendees overcome Impostor Syndrome. It includes practical methods of addressing one’s own Impostor Syndrome as well as suggestions for how to improve one’s community in order to not perpetuate the messages that heighten feelings of Impostor Syndrome.

This workshop is very flexible -- it can be run for 2 to 50 people in a 90 min to 3 hour time period. Workshops of over 10 attendees will be split into smaller discussion groups. Sessions are organized so that a wide variety of people can share experiences and gain additional perspective. It is available both in both general attendee and train-the-trainer versions. It is currently only offered in English.

Ally Skills Training Workshop
This workshop, expanding on work by the Ada Initiative, runs best as a 5 hour training and can be done with 6 to 60 people. The Ally Skills Workshop is a practical, discussion-oriented workshop focusing on simple ways people can use their power as an ally to make their physical or virtual space more welcoming and safer to marginalized persons. Facilitated discussion addresses what to do in real-world scenarios ranging from how to  welcome a person of color attending a conference for the first time to speaking up when a colleague makes a sexist joke at the office party. People leave the workshop with practical suggestions as well as points to ponder further, and report feeling ready to take action in the future.

The Ally Skills Training focuses on what people of privilege can do to support marginalized individuals. It works best when a variety of perspectives are represented in the workshop participants, including women, People of Color, genderqueer individuals, and those with diverse sexual orientations. However, it is important not to require marginalized attendees to educate those with more privilege about the impacts of privilege in society; therefore, that consideration is balanced with the need for privileged individuals to listen to those with less societal privilege.

This workshop is available both in both general attendee and train-the-trainer versions. It is currently only offered in English.

Consulting Services
We provide consulting to help with your business processes or prepare for hosting events. In addition to providing an outside perspective, we offer guidance on creating and evaluating more inclusive work environments and communities. Site visits are strongly recommended, but some of this work can be done remotely.

Diversity of backgrounds and perspectives is particularly important for innovation in STEAM fields, but historically they have been challenging environments for marginalized groups such as women and cultural, racial, gender or sexual identity groups. In organizational consulting, we will work with you to analyze your processes and assess current performance metrics with an eye toward improving intersectional awareness and participation.

For organizations hosting events, consulting is available to write  a Code of Conduct that is customized to clearly state organizational principles and commitment to maintaining a safe space for all attendees. A strong Code of Conduct publicly and accessibly declares an event’s dedication to creating a safer space, clearly states what behaviors are expected and which are not tolerated, and provides clear mechanisms to report problems and seek help if those expectations are not fulfilled.2 This work can also include assistance designing organizational process around Code of Conduct violations.

Consulting is also available on a variety of topics including:
Inclusive hiring processes, environment shaping and intervention, incident responses, professional development opportunities, establishing mentorship without perpetuating systemic unpaid labor, and conflict resolution. It is currently only offered in English.

Possible Future Offerings:
  • <name> Camp  - safer space event/retreat for individuals who identify along similar axes (for example, women, genderqueer individuals, People of Color) to gather, learn, create community, and share stories and strategies. These events may be organized in an “un-conference” fashion, but will also include the Impostor Syndrome Workshop above for all participants.
  • What is Consent? - training that can be tailored to a high school or college student audience as well as professionals. Addresses verbal interactions, written communications, and physical touch.
  • What is Harassment? - training that can be tailored to a high school or college student audience as well as professionals. Addresses written communications, social media platforms, and in-person interactions.
  • Creating a Code of Conduct Workshop - facilitated community workshop to discuss norms of the community and how to integrate them into Code of Conduct options for wording and implementation processes.
  • Implementing a Code of Conduct Workshop - workshop to discuss processes and procedures that are options for implementation once a Code of Conduct is in place.
  • How to Handle a Sexual Harassment Incident in Your Community - includes empathy exercises, creating a safer space after there has been an incident, and discussion of points at which an organization might decide to close rather than continue to exist if there is concern of perpetuating an environment in which harassment is tolerated.