Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Business Model for an Agile Community

Starting an Agile Community

Since two years I'm trying to have meetings of Agile people in the Rhine-Neckar region of Germany. We have met more or less monthly, have discussed our Agile ideas, have played games and have learned a lot from each other. So it was and still is a good experience to have these meetings.

But there is something that I would like to change: It is me who is inviting to the meetings, I'm trying to find a location every month. So, it's more or less "my duty" to make the meetings happen.

As an Agile person I made several attempts to change this: I invited other people to spread the word, to write some articles in our forum. I convinced some group members to do a presentation on our meeting. I even asked the team! And I have had some success: some of the meetings have been organized by other people and participants have written some blog posts about our meetings.

But there is still just a small team facilitating our meetings. In fact the things still depend very much on my efforts.

Some weeks ago I attended the yearly meeting of the German Scrum community "Deutsche Scrum" in Darmstadt. It was a two-day conference which included an Open Space. In this Open Space I hosted a session on the topic, how to establish a local community.

And these are the results, we have gathered during the Open Space session:

  • do regular meetings (e.g. always on the second Tuesday of a month) so that people remember the date
  • find a location, where you can regularly do it, so that people know where to go
  • invite "rock stars" to attract participants
  • always have a theme (a topic, a title) for the meeting so that people want to join
  • be inviting and open to new participants so that they feel comfortable from the start
  • ((and some more))

Business Model Generation

And there was one additional hint we got from he organizer of a local "Lean Startup" group. He asked:
Did you ever try to discuss the Business Model of your Agile Meeting?
When you set up a Business Model, you think about the following:

  • Who are your "customers"? 
  • What are your "sales channels"? 
  • Who are your "key partners"? 
  • What are the "value propositions" you give to your "customers"?
  • What is the "cost structure"?
  • What are your "revenue sources"?

On our last meeting (second Tu. in December) we discussed about our "Business Model". After a short introduction to the "Business Model Canvas" http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas we tried to set up the Business Model for our Agile Community. The tool we used, the Business Model Canvas, was helpful to widen the discussion. We tried to include all of the nine aspects of the canvas.

We did not manage to discuss all the aspects, but we think that we are heading into the right direction.

So we decided to go on with this approach at our next meeting. And I think you already know, when it will be:

On Tu. 8.January 2013 (the second Tu. in January) at Wirtshaus Uhland in Mannheim (the same location as last time).

Current State of the Discussion

This picture is a snapshot of the current state of our discussion at the end of our last meeting:
Key Partners:
  • University Institutes
  • other Agile groups: Karlsruhe, Rhein-Main
Key Activities:
  • Find "Rock Stars"
  • visit companies
  • prepare and announce a theme
Key Resources:
  • Agile "Stammtisch" once a month
Value Propositions
  • discuss real-world problems with likeminded people
  • exchange information on research findings
  • get to know new things
  • drink beer, without time pressure, in a pleasant conversation
  • wrapping-up Agile events, where - as always - was not enough time
  • Stammtisch with preparty: e.g visit a company with a small group, then report at the Stammtisch
Customer Relationships:
  • ((empty))
  • ((empty))
Customer Segments
  • People interested in Agile practices, who have time (or want to take time) in the evening
  • Practitioners from big companies
  • Practinioners from small companies
  • Researchers
  • Consultants
Cost Structure:
  • Freetime investment
Revenue Streams:
  • finding new contacts (for consultants)

((To be continued after the next meeting, stay tuned, or even better: join us in Mannheim))


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