Filed under: Creative Commons, open business models | Tags: BCcampus retrospective, Kickstarter, open business models, State of the Commons 2015
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.
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!
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
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.
Filed under: Creative Commons, Digital Economy | Tags: creative commons, open business model call for participation, open business model canvas, open business model designs, open business model licenses, open business model tools, open business models, TeamOpen
In our capitalistic world competition for limited resources and profits are the driving forces of business. Social value, environmental value, and other non-monetary forms of ROI are rarely factored in to the bottom line.
But some businesses are incorporating social goals into their operations and adopting triple bottom line frameworks. Some are becoming B Corporations. TedX talks like this one from Jay Coen Gilbert are influencing the thinking of entrepreneurs. And still others businesses are eager to create a business that is not only socially responsible but also modern in its use of digital, and open licensing strategies where the aim is to maximize access, use, and distribution. For many entrepreneurs use of Creative Commons is a key enabler of both social goals and financial success. Startups and existing businesses are exploring new alternative business models using Creative Commons licenses as either an enabler or core component of their business – see the many examples at TeamOpen.
For every one of those examples there are many others who want to move in that direction but don’t know how. It’s not easy to figure out how to run a business that is both financially sound and socially responsible. It’s not easy to transition business models from strategies that are focused on locking customers in and producing products and services that are not easily copied, to one where you give customers choice and encourage them to copy, modify, and freely distribute your products and services. It’s a big change.
One of the most frequent questions I get in my Creative Commons work is “How do I earn a living, pay the bills, and keep the lights on if I openly license my work and give it away for free?” Underlying this question are deep seated needs to a) be financially compensated for the work we do, b) manage costs and revenue responsibly, and c) not have others unfairly earn income off your work. These needs are matters of survival and social norms we operate under in a society based on capitalism.
This question and others like it come not just from people in the private sector but the public sector too. Here are a few variants of the question.
One public sector variant pertains to sustaining open initiatives that receive special grants or startup funding. When the one-time special funding runs out how does the open initiative sustain itself? What are the models for sustainability?
In the private sector, startups are designing businesses around openly sharing as much of their product and service as possible for free, while at the same time generating enough revenue to operate a business. What are the business models for that?
This year, through gracious funding from the Hewlett Foundation, my Creative Commons colleague Sarah Pearson and I, are leading an open business models initiative that aims itself squarely at answering questions like these. We aim to make visible how open business models work and provide tools and strategies for designing and developing your own.
We want to do this work in a community-based way with all of you. We published a Creative Commons Open Business Models Call For Participation blog post today.
We’re inviting participation in these open business model activities:
- Join us in designing, developing, and iterating a set of interactive Creative Commons open business model tools that anyone can use to design an open business model.
- Use these open business model tools yourself to generate your own open business model(s).
- Share the results of your participation including the open business models you generate.
- Provide feedback and recommendations for improving the Creative Commons open business model tools and process.
- Partner directly with Creative Commons on developing an open business model for your specific initiative.
- Participate in a Creative Commons workshop on generating open business models.
- Contribute to a Creative Commons open business models report.
See our Creative Commons Open Business Models Participation Activities document for further details on each of these activities, including specifics for participation, and links to the tools.
As you’ll see in the Open Business Models Participation Activities document we’ve also created a Creative Commons Open Business Models Google+ community as a forum for sharing, participation, and interaction.
We’re just getting started but I’m totally excited about doing this work.
I think its potentially a really big thing and hope you’ll all consider participating in this work to grow the commons through open business models.