Austin's unique "BE"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Proof is in the Pudding

Over the past two years we have been slowly watching the model unfold – testing its validity against a wide variety of audiences and circumstances and allowing it to evolve as appropriate. But a shift has occurred that is noteworthy in the lifecycle of the project – a shift away from theory and into practice. At some point the timer on the cosmic oven buzzed, indicating the model was done. Because suddenly we’re receiving requests for active intervention and also watching the model in action. Three immediate examples come to mind - one non-profit, one corporate, and one municipal.

The Austin Creative Alliance recently asked us to help operationalize their new charter by explicitly mapping and stewarding several targeted creative “scenes.” We’ll be helping to identify, train and guide multiple scene stewards who will undertake the ATXequation process of map/convene/evangelize/constitutionalize – in an attempt to help the various creative communities get the lay of their own land, as well as identify the gaps, leverage points and opportunities for greater collaboration. It’s an ambitious project that will both assist the Alliance and provide concrete case studies for the ATXequation over time. Large scale, city-wide application across multiple scenes – with dedicated resources and measurability. Sweet.

After a recent presentation about the scene mapping process as a non-traditional method of community leadership, we were approached by a local high tech executive in attendance. She believes the model to be of potential value within her own enterprise. Her take is that the ATXequation concept of Experience + Community = Scene has applicability in an organizational development context. What if a business unit could use the model to examine it’s practices and evaluate the unique experiences that it does or does not create for it’s clients or customers? And what if the various departments could, much like given “communities,” map out the key individuals, events and organizations that help to sustain them – and then, you get it – aggregate those things in a way that gets people out of their silo mentality so they can see and take action on the themes across the set? That the model has business application as well as at large is especially appealing to us. Why didn't we think of that??

And at a city administration level, Austin’s new and first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer Lucia Athens was recently welcomed into her role at a City Hall reception hosted in part by Sustainability Scene-mapper Brandi Clark. In a brilliant stroke of convene/evangelize, Brandi used her Sustainability scene map as a center point for conversation at the reception – inviting attendees to not only view but contribute to the map itself right there on site. It was a perfect application of the mapping process and exercise – utilizing the map as icebreaker, orientation device and tool for advancing the collaborative good of the scene as a whole.

These three highly varied examples of applicability are exciting to us, and combined with the wild success of the Entrepreneurship scene that Bijoy is so steadily stewarding, offer significant opportunity for immediate challenge, research and most importantly at this stage – tangible results. The model’s baked. Time to serve it up and see if those who partake come back for more. Keep your fingers crossed. And we’ll keep you posted.

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