ABOUT NEW BUSINESS HATCHERY
Hi I’m Mike and I am a trustee of New Business Hatchery, a charity formed to create jobs. We take people with ideas and drive and turn them into entrepreneurs running high growth businesses. Why “high growth” and not just “successful” – because high growth businesses are responsible for half the new jobs in the UK and have a half life of 35 years so are capable of creating long term economic stability and job security. Our FlightPlan programme takes you from “thought-up” to “start-up” testing, proving and validating your business or product idea in the real world using our unique innovation engine. With our support anyone can launch a successful business. To do this we put you and your ideas through an intensive 8 week testing and proving program, working with us one day a week and requiring many tasks to be completed between the training days. So we teach you – you validate against the real world – we refine – you revalidate – until you have a winning compelling proposition that will turn customers into raving fans who can’t stop talking about your business and buying your products.
We begin by forming an innovation team. Using psychometric profiling methods we match your strengths and weaknesses with a team who will support you whilst you build your business with us. Being in an innovation team like this is like being a super hero, whose super power is the ability to solve all your problems. How? We don’t just put random people together – we match your skills and personality to your team. Most people who form their own groups or teams select people like themselves – people who will not challenge their way of thinking and in doing so selecting people who don’t bring a different approach to problem solving. Given that there are (basically) 4 distinct problem solving thinking styles, you automatically are missing 3/4 of a solution to any problem. Your innovation team, custom built around you, does not have this restriction. Your innovation team will also represent the thinking styles of 100% of the population – your customers.
USING OPEN BADGES
So open badges…I bet you were wondering when I was going to get round to them! I am very keen to implement an open badge solution into our teaching methods. We do a LOT of teaching and awarding badges for key achievements will be a valuable tool.
We will not only use badges as awards, but we will also use them to track progress and ensure key milestones are achieved. Our ‘just in time’ teaching style requires an audience that is at a consistent level in the FlightPlan program in order for the next phase of the teaching to be most effective. Basically, if you haven’t done your homework, you could hold up the whole class. This is where open badges comes into it’s own to document the person’s journey from “thought-up” to “start-up” through all the stage gates of the FlightPlan program. Let me give an example – during our group session the innovation team (4-6 people) are given a task, say to validate a hypothesis against a particular market segment, using one of our survey & analysis tools. The task requires 50 recorded responses. You will get a bronze badge for starting the task and getting your first response, silver for hitting the 50 mark and gold for 100+. Your innovation team and us, the instructors, can view your progress. If we see the deadline approaching and someone is still at the bronze stage we can leverage the team to help in time for the deadline. Previously we relied on “how’s it going” phone calls and this quite often resulted in students turning up to class without completing the required tasks at the required level.
By accumulating multiple badges at multiple ranks (say bronze silver gold) we will quickly build up a picture of someones progress through our FlightPlan program and we will be able to use this to analyse our effectiveness at launching high growth businesses – currently no one in the UK does this, they just train you and set you adrift (which is why the failure rate of businesses is so high). We aim to prove our FlightPlan program is THE most effective way to launch a business and we believe that one day our FlightPlan program will be how all businesses are launched. But we should begin with the end in mind and open badges is a tool we will use to:
- Reward achievement
- Track progress
- Create peer based competition
- Document progress and level of achievement
- Provide a visual way to audit our success
- Provide a justified granularity to failures
The last point here is also a key one and unique to us. No one in this country tracks the effectiveness of the government funded business startup schemes (or privately funded for that mater). No one seems to be interested in documenting the return on investment from such schemes, I suspect because 1, they don’t have to, 2, they don’t get paid to, 3, they don’t want to because their failure rates are so high and 4, they dont want to jepordise the vast sums of money they are getting paid for underachieving.
All the schemes that are currently in place to help new businesses are resulting in an horrific 80% failure rate in the first year. An appalling 3.5 year half life for “successful” businesses that have limped on past their first year, but never quite made it. The most poplar American startup movement boasts an incredible 99% failure rate (their figures, not mine!!) , but does not try and learn WHY so many of heir “helped” businesses fail. We receive NO government funding, but we perceive it as a mission critical task to track our effectiveness… and as a person trusting us with launching their new business, shouldn’t it be the first thing you ask – “How good are you at your job?”. Open badges will be instrumental in providing an answer with enough granularity that can be validated and audited.
WORK DONE SO FAR
Sorry this is turning into a manifesto, but the open badges functionality brings a lot to a teaching and training organisation like ours. So on to the execution…
I have created 3 badges to play with initially, reflecting some work I have been doing with my members recently:-
- NBH1001 – FlightPlan Graduate
Given to people who have been through our FlightPlan program.
- NBH01 – Social Media Rising Star
To earn this badge you must register your business on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Find New Business Hatchery on those platforms. Join us. Send us a message through each. When I have received all the messages you get the badge.
- NBH02 – Impress with WordPress
To earn this badge you must have set up a WordPress blog and posted an article about the your experience starting up – linking back to our site.
Creating the badge was pretty easy, I used Keynote to design my badge and then screen clipped [cmd shift 4] round the badge – the file produced is .png and just needs renaming before use. I’m no designer, but the key things I wanted to appear on the badge were:
- Our name – New Business Hatchery – to show that it is an accredited badge from us.
- A symbol of the level of achievement – in this case a gold star – but for other awards it could be bronze or silver. I would also consider platinum for super achievements, if I could figure our how to make it not look like silver! I am also considering derogatory badges – attendance for example – a person always arriving late for meetings gets a black badge?!? OK that might not make me too popular. Maybe the absence of a “!00%” attendance record badge is sufficient.
- Our logo
- The achievement name. I’m going to have LOTS of these so have chosen a naming convention (NBH<BADGE NUMBER> <BADGE DESCRIPTION>)
- A logo if the task related to something / someone else – so the social media badge has FB, Twitter and LinkedIn logos.
- I tried to make them have a consistent layout – our name at top, award in the middle, award name at the bottom.
- My badges are square – that is a limitation of my ability – if I could figure out how to shape my text I think round or shield shapes are more “badgey”.
Other ideas: Derogatory/humour badges?
- Worst website in group?
- Latest to arrive at a meeting.
- Worst attendance.
- Phone went off in presentation?
I would like to inject an element of humour into the system. The badges should be fun and informative.
I want the badges to link back to my website and enforce my role as an accredited issuer. Badges themselves mean nothing unless the issuer has some validity. Otherwise anyone could create their own, or award them to their mates (black market badges!).
The mozilla functionality to award badges works OK, but I am having difficulty issuing a badge via my website with the WPBadger plugin. An issue log has been raised with the developer – now 2 weeks old and no response, and another user has recorded they have the same issue, so I have not seen this solution working and do not know if it is successfully being used by anyone. I was hopping to be able to document the whole solution here (hence posting this so late), but will have to leave it for another day.
I am very interested to see other peoples solutions for issuing and distributing their badges.
Ideally I will document an end-to-end solution that I can pass on to my members to execute for their businesses (I already have interest from a very philanthropic lady who is trying to tackle illiteracy in adults).
Displaying against a user’s profile on our site and for the user’s own social media accounts and their own websites is crucial. And so far (5-Apr-13) I have not found a satisfying solution. What is the point of issuing badges if you can’t show them off easily? So I have a “backpack” full of barges, so what? Its no good unless everyone can see it…so I want it displayed on all my social networking sites and my website. But if these don’t have the link to my backpack, I may as well just have a picture of a badge sent to me and bypass the backpack part altogether. The main purpose of the backpack, is to validate the badges as coming from a reputable source and not just “recreated” (read illegally copied) by me from someone else’s website or social networking page. So the validity of the source is required and some degree of security to prevent whole-scale copying and bypassing of the system.
Maybe the system should be “closed” and badges are only displayed on our website with the ability to “share” via social media. The best example and execution I have seen of this is on the FitBit website at http://www.fitbit.com/uk where you get badges as awards for achieving levels of physical activity – walked up 100 flights of stairs, 1000 miles, 20 miles in a day etc. They are fantastic motivators on this site and I recommend everyone review this as an example of good practise – but this is using their own system of awards, not open badges.
- Learn more about the open badges system, it’s functionality, the add-ons, such as wordpress plugins and social networking links.
- Test and document an end-to-end solution.
- Define all the badges – no small task as first I will have to document all the stage gates of the FlightPlan program and implement some change control to prevent the badges system and the actual teaching getting out of sync.
- Implement this solution on my site newbusinesshatchery.com and use it with a real FlightPlan program.
It’s all very exciting and I can’t wait to start using this functionality and leverage it’s potential.