Things I Need To Do Better

I believe passionately in the underlying principles and the overarching vision of Changemaker Bootcamp. I know that there’s a huge gap in the need for practice, and I believe that services like this can help fill that gap.

Moreover, my goal for this project and all of my work is impact. I believe strongly in doing work a certain way to maximize impact — the ways embodied by these workouts. I myself need to be modeling those practices.

I’ve been using Lean Startup as the overarching framework for creating Changemaker Bootcamp (rapid iterations focused on validated learning). My twist is that I’m working transparently. I’m sharing the lessons I’m learning — both good and bad — here and as close to real-time as possible. If you watch the exit interviews of past participants, they’re pretty candid about what could be better. I want people to see this, because I want others to learn from my experiences. My goal isn’t merely to build a thriving service. If it were, there would be much easier ways for me to do that. My goal is to improve the ecosystem as a whole.

This past week, I “officially” launched Changemaker Bootcamp. (Apply now! Deadline is August 13.) We’ve moved out of alpha and into perpetual public beta. That means I have an overall service that meets my baseline expectations in quality. But it doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. It’s far from that. There are many things that need to be improved, and I fully expect to be continuing to do that over the next several months.

I’ve had many wonderful friends go out of their way to spread the news and to recommend that people participate in bootcamp. I feel very blessed, and I’m going to work my butt off to surpass their belief in me.

I’ve also had a few wonderful friends share some hard, critical feedback. I love hard, critical feedback. It’s going to take me some time to implement their suggestions, so I thought I’d share what they said now, share my quick thoughts, and open things up to ideas from all of you! Most of the feedback has been around communication.

I hate the name “Changemaker Bootcamp.”

Fair enough. When I originally conceived of this, I called it “Collaboration Bootcamp.” I changed it to “changemaker,” because I wanted to make the goals around making positive change more explicit, and because I believe that collaboration skills are core to doing this. (Plus, the domain name was available!)

However, there are lots of downsides to this name. First, changemakers need more than collaboration skills (although I think this is a high-leverage skill that most people are not investing in). I can address this through partnership or pointers. For example, New Media Ventures has been experimenting with a business skills bootcamp for social entrepreneurs. The Story of Stuff Project is experimenting with a citizen muscles bootcamp. Seb Paquet has been independently developing a peer-support model for social entrepreneurs that embodies a lot of the principles underlying this bootcamp. We need all of these things, and I’m happy to point to the people who are doing them.

Second, for whatever reason, when people think “changemakers,” they think “nonprofit.” I think that is a limited, unfortunate framing, but if it’s too strong for me to overcome, then I may need to change it. I know lots of people who are working in organizations without explicit social missions who should be doing these kinds of workouts, and I want those people in my bootcamp. That diversity makes for a richer experience for my bootcampers, but it also contributes to the bettering of the world.

I’m pondering a name change to “Collective Leadership Bootcamp.” What do you think?

What’s your curriculum?

Ugh. I hate the word, “curriculum.” Changemaker Bootcamp isn’t teaching in any traditional sense. It’s learning-by-doing, with lots of feedback from peers and from me. Watch Amy Luckey’s exit interview to get a better sense of what the experience is like.

That said, I need to be much more clear about what Changemaker Bootcamp is about, but more importantly, why you should participate. I need to be clear about what you’ll get out of it. I’m working on this. It will take time.

That said, I’m holding myself to a much higher standard here than any other training I know of. I’ve published all of my workouts, with notes on what went well and what didn’t. I’m using this blog to talk about the meta-process, as I’m doing right now with this post. And I’m using the most liberal Creative Commons license out there for all of my materials, meaning that people will be able to build on what I’m learning and sharing. Who else is doing this? Seriously, I’d love to know, so I can point to them, applaud them, and learn from them.

It seems kind of expensive.

Good. It should.

I don’t pretend to know that much about pricing, and of course, pricing is intertwined with brand and marketing — two other things I know little about. It’s possible that my pricing is problematic, in which case I need to find ways of correcting that.

Here’s how I went about figuring out my pricing.

First, I started with my twin goals around sustainability and scalability. If this is not financially sustainable, then I can’t keep doing this work. However, if I can’t help the folks who need it, then I’m not achieving my impact goals.

I can address my target market by giving my workouts away and by finding other ways to support an ecosystem of people who can’t participate in my bootcamps. If it’s too expensive, organize your own workout group. I’ll help you. You can offer a competing bootcamp and price it below me. I’ll help you with that too. Seriously. I have tremendous confidence in my abilities, and I’m constantly getting better. If there’s a market for this kind of service, then I belong on the premium side of the market. Competition is validation.

Second, I look at what people are spending right now on personal and professional development. In my changemaker survey, I found that many people spend between $1-5K a year. I wanted to price the bootcamp so that people could potentially enroll in multiple bootcamps throughout the year.

Third, I looked at “competing” services. My bootcamp is on the high-end of that spectrum, but it’s not the highest, and I believe it provides much more value.

Furthermore, while I looked at trainings and leadership development programs, they’re not my primary competitive frame of reference. Organizational consulting is. So many organizations hire consultants (like me in a previous life), when they should actually be doing something like a bootcamp internally. You can read more of my thoughts on this here.

I feel good about the price, and I’m not going to change it. If I’m unable to build a sustainable service, it will be because of my inability to communicate value and reach my target audience, not because of the price.

I’d love to hear what others think about all of this. Feel free to leave a comment below!

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About Eugene Eric Kim

Eugene helps groups learn how to come alive and collaborate more skillfully together. He spent ten years consulting with companies across different sectors, from Fortune 500 companies to grassroots movements. He’s now focusing his efforts on helping others develop the same skills that he uses to help groups.