Friday, May 9, 2014

The Happiness Collaboratory: A dream

Two years ago on return from the High Level Meeting Happiness & Wellbeing: Defining a New Economic Paradigm held at the UN headquarters in NYC, I had a dream.  I called it the Happiness Collaboratory.

That meeting - over 850 of the worlds leaders making the happiness movement happen - changed my life. (More on that another time). Today. in three short weeks, I am part of a team hosting a grassroots follow up conference in Vermont: Happiness & Wellbeing: Building a National Movement.

Here is my dream:

This plan recommends that Happiness Alliance/Happiness Initiative  focus on facilitating and managing the co-creation, coordination and delivery of open-source tools and resources designed to measure,
monitor and increase well-being. Open-source is a philosophy that promotes free redistribution and access to an end product’s design and implementation details which they can use to build other products.

What is a Collaboratory?
By definition a collaboratory is a creative environment that encourages open minded individuals to explore innovative design solutions, evaluate modern development techniques, engage in best practices, and honor the traditions that have come to reside before them.

What is the Happiness Alliance/Happiness Initiative 2.0 project?
We will develop new tools and resources in a collaborative, open-source, shared and non-competitive space. We will create tools available online where people, policymakers, business, education can convene, monitor well-being, provide tools and resources to the broader community, share best practice, celebrate success, communicate news and updates and connect the broader happiness movement through a seamless interface, created by the community. It is possible the best example of what this looks like is a connected social network centered on the theme of well-being. Within this network, an individual, business, city, or university can provide tools and resources created by the Collaborative to measure well-being, educate, connect and build movements at the grassroots and policymaking levels.  We are hopeful that technology companies will find this project attractive, and will be interested in partnering with HI to develop a robust platform for well-being researchers, scientist, practitioners can develop tools that can be easily parked in this domain. This all intended to be created in an open-source, collaborative, shared and non-competitive environment. It is possible that some of these tools will likely result in proprietary products and services that are further developed by members of the collaboratory. We will use the Creative Commons attribution model to protect the integrity of the project, but will encourage further development of tools beyond the collaboratory for the purpose of increasing creativity, diversity of collateral within the well-being movement.

TheHappiness Alliance/Happiness Initiative  Callaboratory is a body of individuals, organizations, business, researchers, government, and technology, well-being science representatives who work together to build a comprehensive suite of well-being tools. The HI organizes this body, and membership in the Collaboratory is open. There will be a organization to the body, with communication and reporting structures, standards of quality, testing protocols, user-participatory processes including focus groups and beta testers, evaluation and product release.

The project is expected to last three years. After which, the nature of the Happiness Alliance/Happiness Initiative  2.0 project will either end, after reaching its goals, or it will transform into another role as determined by the members of the collaborative.

The Plan
The plan to create the Collaboratory is to be divided into three phases.
Phase I is all planning and developing resources, gathering a small think tank of key individuals and organizations to lay the framework of the project. By framework, we refer to the processes needed to initiate a large open-source project of this type. For instance, what is the governance and committee structure, what are the goals of the project, what deliverables and when will they be released. How will the communication and reporting flow throughout the committee matrix, how will decisions be made, and what are the protocols of the open-source project. What will be developed first, who will work on what, and how will we monitor quality, user participation in beta testing and focus groups. These, and other key aspects that are the foundation of the project will need to be developed prior to phase II, which is the active development phase.

Phase II – entails the active phase of the project, where the actual tool development is occurring. The Happiness Alliance/Happiness Initiative ’s role will be to manage the process, and not get in the way or control, but to provide leadership, intervention, problem solving and resource gathering. We will act in the capacity of “managers” whose role is to support its’ team by providing them the tools, resources and coaching to achieve the project goals. By the end of Phase II, the major deliverables will be ready for beta testing and released in limited versions.

Phase III – will involved more of a user-participatory model. People, organizations, business, education entities will be heavily involved in using the tools, providing feedback and mining data to inform project leaders. At the end of Phase III, product releases will roll out early versions, realizing that additional versions (updates) will be forthcoming. All the requisite activities related to releasing a product, including marketing, public relations, media will take place.

Finally, the project will reach a stage where the Collaboratory will continue in a new form where as the role of the Happiness Alliance/Happiness Initiative  will dramatically shift from being facilitator, manager to one that is a user, participant. The entire time, our existing work with cities, campuses and business has continued, and we are still targeting vulnerable and special populations in grant-funded projects. However, this work has been scaled down, off-shored to individuals and organizations, and some kept with the Happiness Alliance/Happiness Initiative to test the tools being created by the Collaboratory.

I still have this dream, and so put it forward in the hope that the Happiness & Wellbeing conference the end of this month will be a  germination place for the dream.  In gratitude, Laura Musikanski, JD, MBA of The Happiness Alliance/Happiness Initiative.  

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