Paul Stacey


Converging Forces

The open business models work I wrote about in my previous Edtech Frontier post generated high interest. Turns out there are lots of people and businesses trying to figure out how to use Creative Commons to openly share while at the same time operating and sustaining a business.

Early work responding to that interest revolved around using the open business model canvas and questions as a tool for depicting and designing open business models. This helps establish a common framework for what a business model is and how to think about it. It also creates a means of dissecting and analyzing an existing business.

open business model canvas

I found it really interesting to autonomously fill out an open business model canvas from what a business says about itself on its web site. I liked to then broaden out and find stories others have written about them as a means of finding interview material, filling in gaps, and getting an outside view. Through these activities you can use the open business model canvas to research and analyze existing businesses.

An initial focus on four business model building blocks – 1. customers, 2. value propositions, 3. social good, and 4. revenue streams, generate the best results. But it’s also really helpful to fill out and think through every building block element in the canvas. We did this for platforms and with startups, non-profits, and existing businesses.

Colleagues at Creative Commons and I did this for various online platforms that use Creative Commons licenses or have integrated them right into their platform as a service for end users. Doing this independently is a means of better understanding just what a business or platform does and how important Creative Commons licenses are (or could be) to them.

It’s always fascinating to compare canvases multiple people create independently for the same business. Having each person share with others what they come up with inevitably reveals facets of the business others didn’t see. Sharing canvases with each other stimulates conversation and dialogue around how an open business works and leads to a common understanding of the organization. It’s useful to create a single new canvas combining the findings and insights from all into one shared depiction.

We also did open business model workshops with groups of people. Some workshops were done for participants who were all from the same organization, others for consortia of partners working together on a shared initiative, and still others for mixed groups of people from different businesses. Workshops explored themes and concepts associated sharing, open innovation, open source software, and open business models. Real world examples were used to show how others are doing it. Hands-on activities put things into practice.

As we dug deeper into these activities there was a growing realization that this work is really important and part of something bigger than initially conceived.

This realization led my colleague Sarah Pearson and I, with the support of all our Creative Commons colleagues, to do a Kickstarter campaign in the summer seeking to raise additional funds and write a book profiling businesses who use Creative Commons licenses as an integral part of their business model. We were thrilled to meet and exceed out campaign goals. Thank you backers!

open business models kickstarter campaign

As part of our Kickstarter campaign we made a commitment to regularly write about what we were learning and key insights we were gaining. I’ve been doing that writing over on Medium here.

I really feel fortunate to be doing this open business models work – it’s fascinating. I’ve come to see it as being part of what I’m now calling the “abundance economy”. Doing this work I get the wonder and excitement that comes with new discoveries.

I was thankful to receive this fall an invitation from David Porter and Mary Burgess to provide some video material for their keynote address “Supporting Open Textbook Adoption in British Columbia” at the recent Open Education Conference in Vancouver. They asked me to provide a short video detailing my start in Open Educational Resources (OER) in BC, how I see the current situation, and what I think BCcampus should do next.

I’m super proud of the work BCcampus did and continues to do today.
Really enjoyed David and Mary’s retrospective.

Here’s the full length video I sent of my thoughts:

My interest in understanding and fostering the Commons continues. And I have been reading widely and deeply about it.

Today Creative Commons released the 2015 State of the Commons report:

  • 1 billion CC licensed works in the Commons in 2015
  • CC licensed works have nearly tripled in the last 5 years
  • More people are choosing to share with “Free Culture” licenses
  • The CC marked public domain has nearly doubled in size over the last 12 months
  • In 2015, CC licensed works were viewed online 136 billion times

State of the Commons > 1 biilion chart

Wow, those are some big numbers.
Seems there is a growing interest in the Commons, not just by me, but many other millions.
Thrilled to have been part of making that happen with an amazing team of CC’ers at HQ and around the world.

Open business models and the growth of the Commons.
Two converging forces.

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