Updated: May 5
Entrepreneurship and multimedia activism. A paradoxical paradigm. 2 forms of extremes pulling at each other in arresting contrast, in intelligent disruption, in activistic power, and in unsurpassed anti-colonial agency.
2 extremes in many regards. In how they summon 2 different systemic ideologies; 1) entrepreneurship with its undercurrents, its premise, and layerings promised to liberal capitalistic interests and imperatives and 2) multimedia activism with its deployment of art and transdisciplinariness as a core modality of activism. In other words, 1 is an act of disruption leveled against state-derived & state-sanctioned hierarchies of domination that mobilizes itself around multi-format art/media, and the other is a tactical intelligence made process summoned to exploit pre-mobilized assets, talents, & resources ultimately "translat[able in]to a product-/service-specific innovational offering that is commercially viable" (The Economics of Science and Technology". The Journal of Technology Transfer. 2002).
So what anti-colonially entrenched exploitable interrelation can be made between entrepreneurship and multimedia activism? How can that paradoxical paradigm be made activistically enriching and necessary a proposition? And lastly, how does the coalescing of these two extremes can be systemized into one act of anti-colonial innovation, strategic agility, and global servant leadership?
That's what we're here to find out. Read on beautiful.
On the nature of "paradox" as both activistic & entrepreneurial resistance, intelligence, & innovation
First, let's solidify an understanding of the core defining values that separately pulsate right at the core of entrepreneurship and multimedia activism as 2 autonomous and unrelative fields.
For our purposes, let's frizzle down entrepreneurship succinctly yet via a critically macroscopic lense:
Entrepreneurship is an ever-optimizing profits-driven sustained effort to commercialize goods/services
It is about risks mitigation through the robust integration of lean & agility principles that cater to a "less is more economy". In other words, it serves to answer the following question: How can the exploitation of a strategically finite and delineated pool of assets, talents, & investment capital can lead to maximum organizational and operational lean efficiency in ways congruent with maximum ROI (return on investment)?
Its results can be broken down into a concrete sub-set of tangibles and deliverables whose treatment expresses the truest measure of that system's impact and efficiency
Entrepreneurship is enhanced when an organization establishes a sustained form of strategically & relative dominance in their micro-market. As Seth Godin teaches us, by playing to "the smallest viable market" you render competition void and organically position yourself to serve those for whom the impact of your service/goods and entrepreneurial mission achieve maximum resonance.
Now, let's look just as micro-systemically at multimedia activism. Here is what it comes to impart us with:
Activism is a state of purposeful insurrection. That means activism stems from the justified counter-power and exploited opportunity for strategic disruption and destabilization of any institution whose sustainability, existence, and preservation only service dangerous regimes of self-protective dominance and supremacy system-wide.
Activism starts with the awareness that our institutions are not neutral; They are systemic in their lack of neutrality. And that system-wide strategic bias protects an economy where dominance is scaled and resistance is repressed, compromised, and de-mobilized, however in/effectually and sustainably, but always institutionally.
Activism is an action-driven stance of resistance against a self-protective multilayered system that uses strategic biases to empower White-specific supremacy.
Activism is build across different capacities and orientation in range, scale, reach, structure, advocacy, non-/hierarchy, and resistance.
Now, about that paradox that ties activism and entrepreneurship together enlighteningly and definingly. First, what is a paradox? As reprised by global thought leaders such as Brené Brown, Rob Bell, and Liz Gilbert, the "paradox" is the singular building block of the truly intelligent mind. Intelligence is the ever-refined capacity to house in one's consciousness a paradox, which is one thing and its starkest opposite, and yet be enhanced by that disrupting and impossible duality rather than be defeated by the weight of wrestling with a fractured spectrum of self-contradiction. Such thinkers are the ultimate bipartisans. They are neutrality made dual, equalizing, and bipartisan.
They see how both ends of that fractured worldview, of that severed intelligence, simultaneously hold truth, relatively and in part, in their own hands. But rather than making them compete for supremacy (by making everything relative to one standard where one thought can be indeed better or worse than), each is accepted as equal participants in a non-hierarchy. They each hold answers and questions, relative truths, and a part of disruption, but it is their coming together as one through the paradox that makes them both mutually necessary and enlightening.
Think about that, people whose intelligence is never chafed by a different and contrasting thought, are never enhanced, they are entrenched in their non-critical thinking (masquerading as intelligence). They are conversant in their own beliefs only and exclusively. They wouldn't know the first thing about how to be right, truthful, let alone critical, in a conversation where their ethos, their thought is not the unchallengeable superseding authority. Such people are reductively defined by a uni-dimensional thought and they never allow themselves to be fully and immersively positively disrupted into higher consciousness by any alternative discourse. They fear what challenges their hierarchies because they don't know how to behave in a system that is not defined by them.
Such people know more about less. And all they know is what feeds what they want to justify and protect. They recycle their own thoughts without ever expanding them through the contrast of another. And even their level of "knowing" is tentative, germinal, and deficit-driven because it resists true expansion and celebrates only its own self-involvement.
So about that paradox now. Yes, there is one that tries to segregate activism away from entrepreneurship and vice-versa. It is a narrative of mutually negative resistance between 2 ecosystems (activism/entrepreneurship) that are thought/taught to be incompatible.
Yet, when we go at it smartly, strategically, and critically as positive disrupters, there is a lot to be harnessed by 1) building lean & agility principles around activism for it to be low-cost, self-sustainable, enduring, de-hierarchized, and innovationally anti-colonial and 2) centering true activistic for-purpose defining ideologies in entrepreneurship to destabilize liberal capitalism and its imperatives.
If we look at activism as the "what" and entrepreneurship as the "how", we instate a new socialpreneurial order, a new paradigm rooted in an intelligent paradox that creates a greater capacity for activistic impact, innovational intelligence, and leadership.
In this fourth space, in this activation of the paradigm-paradox, the point of leading, is leading to serve, and serving to innovate.
Innovation here means bridging 2 irreconciled extremes through this enlightening paradox.
Agility means, trimming down processes, to make each action an inspired and targeted one that enhances activism through entrepreneurship and vice-versa.
Resistance means acknowledging the paradox and how we are thought/taught to resent it, feel threatened by it, and be scared of its very existence. It's all about resisting the thought that this paradox shouldn't be exploited and instead choosing activistic socialpreneurship as a form of radical resistance by doing the most positively unimaginable left-field thing in our fields: That is to think like an activist and act like an entrepreneur.
And the more you do that, the more your resistance is activism, your activism entrepreneurial, and your socialpreneurship anti-colonially agile. Unstoppably, inevitably, and innovationally so.
Entrepreneurship and activism as an anti-colonially exploitable duality; A new fourth space
Because it is such a niched-down space of innovational anti-coloniality, there isn't a clustered competing field of established activistic entrepreneurship. Which means that by being ahead of the curve you get to spearhead generation-making strides through a new model of operations, a new paradigm, in other words: A fourth space.
But before we go into fleshing out this interspace and the for-purpose activistic vision it carries, let's get self-observational and pull commonalities from our paradox:
What can both systems (activism/entrepreneurship) learn from one another?
And in what ways can they be utilized synergetically for their own mutual benefit?
To do that, let's see where they converge in their divergence. What structural defects and inadequacies do they carry?
When it interacts with anti-coloniality it is done so disproportionately through an aesthetics of resistance: Using claims to justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and decoloniality as PR stunts, but not a transparent, seminal, and deep-seated model of operations/business orientation (from the hiring process, service/products, brand story, core leadership, research, innovation, governance, internal communications, to the clients and the design of their end-to-end experience)
When it favors a capitalistic philanthropy model where those who stand to be on the receiving end of that philanthropy are institutionally minoritized and made one-sidedly codependent rather than groomed for autonomy (the proverbial case of teaching one how to fish one day rather than giving them a fish every day)
As prevalently corrupted by a White-dominated top-down colonial leadership structure exclusive of, resistant to, and contrary to shared collaboration-based leadership
Rampant issues in organizations' strategic planning ability to secure and harmonize sustainable "core" funding and bigger grants and time-bound project-specific ones
Augment their organizational impact, reach, scale whilst asserting a non-hierarchical governance that evolves with their expansion and redesigning
Decolonize their own non-/hierarchical governance and unblinkingly acknowledge the coloniality of/in their anti-coloniality
Broaden and evolve their offerings without overextending themselves in their human.e, emotional, physical, material, and organizational capacity for commitment
Self-protect their energies through self-care and community care
Stay topically and innovational relevant by building off of vital emergency response activistic relief efforts yet framing outwards beyond that through a longer-term entrenched vision of micro-specific to systemic resistance (the proverbial case of teaching one how to fish one day rather than giving them a fish every day). Iterate activism beyond (one-off) relief efforts and groom the autonomy of the minoritized into and beyond relief
When we reframe activism and entrepreneurship as converging fields and interests we can see how they are being systemically corrupted by overlapping recurring thematic issues:
Homogeneous hierarchies entrenched in White-dominated top-down colonial leadership
The White fragility-born reluctance to acknowledge the coloniality of/in their anti-coloniality; Whether it be at all or in part. And the capacity to process and operationalize anti-coloniality holistically as a never-ending and ever-regenerated process. Anti-coloniality/Activism extends well beyond the one-off act - it is a systemically reinforced behavior
Efficiently tapping into international allyship networks to extend the reach of the innovationally anti-colonial activistic efforts well beyond the organization and into their "smallest viable" niched-down communities of practice. There's too much resistance to strategic, responsible, and radical allyship in both fields.
Falling into the trap of capitalistic philanthropy and pay lip service to anti-coloniality as activism
Okay Ches you want to say, so how do we merge them both into an intelligent paradigm-paradox of positive disruption and activistic socialpreneurship?
Glad you asked love. Here's how you can get started:
Rethink entrepreneurship as the tactical operational engine that runs and accelerates the accessibility of: servanthood, action-focused activism (or activism in action), innovation, and agility.
And likewise, rethink activism as the ideological end-to-end content base for socialpreneurship that centers and promotes: Third Culture and QTBIPOC leadership, alternative anti-capitalistic models, social justice through strategically designed social transformation (using agility principles).
10 ways entrepreneurship and activism can learn from each other
Operate through a collaborative flat(tened) co-leadership structure. Decenter power and the ultimate decision-making authority by sharing it within a hive of diverse co-leads. That brand of targeted diversity is to be pointedly expressed racially and gender-wise prevalently as well as in other capacities that factor neurodivergence, ableism, and multilinguality. To ensure seminal diversity is sustained multilayeredly, invest in external advisership and coaching counsel through consulting agencies working in activistic fields to learn how to positively and productively self-disrupt your organization into real anchoring anti-coloniality governance- and innovation-wise. Cultivating talents in co-leads that are paradigm-breaking racially and in their holistic diversity is how your operating decision-making is steeped into across-the-board anti-colonial innovation horizontally rather than vertically.
Rotate core co-leadership on specific projects. Have different teams spearhead different projects sequentially and/or synchronously. Cultivate co-active leadership horizontally by investing in a flat(tened) and collaborative governance model rather than investing in the verticalization of leadership in its authority and adjacent privileges. Reach out to an external group of (affiliate) independent consultants that will groom you into a tailorable model of organizational non-hierarchy whose workable methodology is there to empower you to bring depth, real-life micro action-oriented practicality, structural efficiency, and profoundly seminal diversity. Check out CoCo for more on that.
Integrate decentered guest voices. Decenter yourself and your team and hold that agency for another voice beyond your own. Go for a voice like that of CoCo's: de-institutionalized, non-hierarchized, radically open, agile, and deconstructed. Center such guest voices in the capacity of consultants, coaches, collaborators, partners, etc. so that they occupy a space of effectual agency by stepping in recurringly in different parts of the design, creation, implementation, marketing, and/or ideation stages of your projects. Their mandate is to address the gaps between your current processes and your anti-colonial potential, expansion, intelligence, and agility as an activistic socialpreneur. By working in their input at cadenced and spaced intervals (every month/every 2 months, etc.), you ensure 1) you are diligently and wilfully decentering and recentering yourself at a regularizable pace by acknowledging an external authority into the core of your leadership, and 2) you are sustainably coached into self-sufficiency as you are imparted time to recollect, self-observe, re-strategize, optimize, and reposition yourself in your capacity to operate anti-colonially activistically, at once self-supportingly and through the agency of your guest voice. This process of integrating floating leadership, external authority, adjacent and disruptive voices, peripheral leaders, and lean anti-colonial strategists empowers you to be decentered midstream, critically, profoundly, and strategically. This allows you to be challenged into becoming creatively expanded through concerted acts of decentering the authority of your own voice; It is a cycle of positive disruption as a mode of horizontal coaching made collaboration.
Iterate strategically by being multi-purpose, yet clarifying focused in your innovational anti-coloniality. What does that mean? It means repurposing the one iteration of strategic innovational anti-coloniality so that it be: 1) evergreen and perennialized into a sustainable anti-colonial content base core that you can practically cycle through and build from, which flows into 2) a systemic and optimization-ready way to democratize content and access to content by playing the gamut of a diversified bracket of platforms, all the while mitigating and countering labor-intensiveness. Practically that entails cross-pomoting snippets of a bigger core content piece thus allowing it to breathe through different channels and content streams. Here's a sneak peek into how I do it: I start my process with brainstorming (looking into what is systemically present and absent, how I can enhance the conversation my project/event/content carries without boxing myself in, and what my tribe has already signaled to me as being worthy of note, necessary, and underserved), then I build out my blog post, re-utilizing that core content piece I then go on to stabilize the design for my free multi-webinar series by rounding out a blog post into a live event (every Thursday --- check it out here!), I record it, then share the sessions as a video series that I house on my free world-class digital education & free content library platform on my website (here!). Based on what emerges from that event, I reconstruct my blog's editorial calendar and proceed to re-engage the whole nine yards informed as I am by the co-creative live contributions of my tribe. That is one specific example of how to iterate strategically in a multi-purpose fashion with focused clarity that activates heigthened capacities for anti-coloniality through horizontality and agility.
Think transdisciplinarily. Draw from pools of knowledges and expertise that are habitually not bracketed together; Go see and taste what innnovation looks like in a field made starkly un-relative to yours. Ask yourself all throughout: How can I bridge this paradox? How can I merge these 2 disciplinary extremes? What is beneficially and anti-colonially exploitable in that perception of a difference? In what way can I make this presumption of a difference relative, not absolute? Partial, not definitive or foundational? What can be gained from appreciating my discipline from the outside in?
Explicitly democratize your process through intentional transparency. Meaning, share all of the above in a condensed palatable micro-size and articulate it to convey 1) what you do and 2) why you are doing it. That amounts to being painstakingly transparent about the ways in which you both activate and customize the activistic socialpreneur paradigm. Doing so is of prime relevance because high value comes from intelligent concision that vulgarizes with clarifying and unsurpassed transparency what is at once a full thought system, a paradox, and a paradigm. When you qualify what is born out of the intentionality to disrupt so to awaken, to lead so to serve, and to serve so to innovate responsibly, anti-colonially, and anti-oppressively, you are a participant in the democratizing of a process, of a method, of a paradigm, whose level of transdisciplinary intelligence is at once simplistically and holistically shared, elevated, and expanded. This empowers other agents of creation such as yourself and myself to take this process to new paradigmatic heights and depths that make it universalizable in the truest capacity instatable by the activism of a responsibly shared democracy.
Elevate your instinct and appetite for positive disruption through strategically spaced recalibration. However refined and self-evolving your process as an activistic socialpreneur, innovation is a state of challenging of the self, of unrest, of disruption. It is a forward-reaching motion of breaking paradigms, industrial expectations, disciplinary silos, and "ideological bunkers" as Bréne Brown calls it. Therefore, you can't be reliant on a past iteration of innovation to carry you through the next wave. And turning to external agents is how you shake up the complacency of your own standard. Schedule consults with entities such as CoCo once every 2-3 months as you see fit to have them rattle you, challenge your own stasis, sharpen your innovational acumen, decenter the knee-jerk norm of your ego, and activate your agency so that you may re-decolonize your own leadership, your own horizontality, and your own anti-coloniality through human.e-centering tools of radical resistance, expansion, and anti-oppression. Every 2-3 months is a great time frame to operate from because it is consistent enough (particularly at the beginning of your process) to allow you to in/validate the innovational teachings you'll have garnered and customized internally for yourself and/or in your own organization. Every follow-up re-encounter you are stretched and groomed for a higher caliber of decoloniality as innovation and that makes it so that you grow to internalize deeper stages of radical resistance. And each layer down into that high-level anti-colonial intelligence is one where you are equipped to perfect more sophisticated agility and horizontality principles.
Routinize cross-team working sessions and collaborations. Don't shut inwards and only gravitate towards the innovational intelligence internal to your team, such a reflex would prove most complacency-derived and placating. Organize serial cross-team working sessions. Those are remarkably efficient when you use them to organize brainstorming sessions and work out the systemic limitations of your team's project. Bouncing off of one another's team is precious because you get to learn from a team's differently wired way of countering system-aware limitations with simply efficient micro-innovational tools. What is activistic about this process, is in you aligning with organizations whose teams are committed and well-practiced decolonialists. To rake up your capacity for positive disruption, rotate your cross-teams alliances: work with the one team every 3-4 months then switch it. Learn from each group's different collaborative output, energies, and contributions. These working sessions can act as a feeler being thrown out to gauge your cross-team compatibility levels and see the potential in your teams' dynamics being upgraded to a full-dress project-specific collaboration. In this way, you get a dynamic roster of collaborators, consults, and partners, with enough of a consistent rapport that you can empoweringly and confidently build therefrom true purpose-driven and anti-colonially activistic projects and cross-team/cross-industry alliances.
Debrief, retreat, and recollect. Block-time recurring sessions that are deconstructed and informed by a bullet point agenda wherein your team can self-reflect out loud and contribute its perspective regarding: 1) your evolving vision, 2) your growth as activistic innovators, 3) your systemic limitations and ingrained biases, 4) and the anti-colonial potential you have yet to delve into. Keep those sessions light, participatory, deconstructed, informal, and archive those findings. Use them to inform the framing of your next steps and stay accountable to them. It is a beautiful opportunity to assess, redress, and connect at once as well as grant space to your co-leads to be acknowledged and mutually empowered. See those as debriefing sessions that you can schedule after big projects/collaborations: It is a transitioner between the peaks in your high-performance that allows you to scale down in intensity, recuperate, refocus, and re-strategize. That debriefing can be set to occur in a (digital) retreat with preselected co-facilitators.
Rinse and repeat! ;)
That's it love! Lots of food for thought and detailedly rendered and articulated ways to locate yourself in the activistic socialpreneur paradigm. I went into great wealth of details to help you visualize what purposeful decolonization of activism through entrepreneurship and vice-versa equates in practical actuality.
We're told from sunup to sundown with an abrasive kind of gusto how we "can't" do certain things. The beauty in having the audacity and intelligence to resist and defy an appreciation of limitation that makes limitation something tragically and adamantly irreversible, is that you give yourself the means to disrupt impossibility into workable and manifestable possibility. Every day. Activism as entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship as activism is but one singular, potent, and micro-actionable way of doing it.
From now on, wherever you are and whoever you are, remember to honor the anti-coloniality and activistic potential in all things, particularly in the perception of limitation and in the corruption of coloniality.
Think like an activist and act like an entrepreneur.
Deploy your privilege like an activist.
Make limitation a relative reality.
And make your reality a defining act of re-occurring activism and of anti-coloniality as industrial innovation.