Post Thesis Committee Meeting Reflection

The following statement is the revised thesis statement / argument written after the science fair last week, and proposed at my thesis committee review with Ben Hooker, Shannon Herbert, Garnet Hertz, and Mike Milley.

Current processes and approaches in the field of entrepreneurship are not designed to accommodate the thinking required in a time with such exponential separation of future possibilities, and present capabilities. My work explores the development of participatory systems that facilitate an alternative perspective on the design of business. These systems neglect interests of economics and sustainability as the primary concern of business, instead focusing on the application of market-based strategies that generate fiction, problematize the everyday, and foster an engagement with the future.

The review served as a great conversation to help me push my ideas further and take a stronger stance in the work I am doing. The following are the primary comments, concerns, and questions that were brought up during the review in regards to this new research statement:

  • What is your stance in all of this? Who are your enemies, and who are you rubbing up against? You do not have a visible perspective in this statement.
  • Are these systems actual tools that you are proposing to the business committee, or are they a critique of the current tools?
  • Consider how your project can become more focused in order to have a more deep emotional impact on the communities it is in dialogue with. 
  • How can you amplify the critique embedded within all of your work thus far to make it more clear what your stance is in these endeavors?
  • The project is currently in-between two points of interest, the polar-speculative (mind blowing, existential, etc.) and the acts of community engagement. How can you choose one side for the project to exist in?

The second part of my presentation proposed 2 directions for the project to go in. The first idea was to continue with developing these participatory systems in a way that explores various outputs, and various means of disrupting the behaviors of the participants by injecting more elements into the process. The second idea was to remove the participant completely, and instead focus on how the Serendipitous business Model Generator I have been developing can live autonomously. The following is the response:

  • Both directions could be interesting, but the first runs the risk of outputting the same kinds of results, just simply packaged in different ways. If this direction is chosen, a lot of emphasis should be put on the specific community these systems are engaging with.
  • Overall, the second concept – the idea of building an autonomous system, facilitated the most conversation.

I am a bit torn between these two directions, which I realize is the reason why I currently sit in the middle of the two spaces the project could turn. My instinct at this point is to develop a hybrid of the two – what I am calling a semi-embodied cognition system which in a sense would generate business plans that are in collaboration with a participant and a robot, or algorithm. I find this idea to work well with the argument that current processes of entrepreneurship will not work in an era that becomes progressively impossible to innovate in – perhaps leaning the project more in the existential / uncanny space of post-human entrepreneurship.

Based on all of this feedback, I have spent that past days re-writing my statement over and over again in an attempt to address a more specific point of tension that the project is dealing with in order to get at a clearer stance for the project that goes beyond the development of practical brainstorming techniques. While I do not find the following statement to be quite  there, I do find it to be in a much more developed and specific place than it was at my committee meeting, hopefully providing more insight for feedback from my committee on how the thesis can be pushed even further to get more specific / refined:

Current approaches to authoring and evaluating business plans in the field of entrepreneurship are shortsighted and irrelevant. They are not designed to accommodate the conceptual space that is mandatory in a near-future scenario that displays an exponential separation of future possibilities and present capabilities. Without a collective abandonment of the field’s current approaches, humans in our near-future will inevitably lack the capability to create new models of business, thus becoming an irrelevant asset in the process of entrepreneurship. To amplify this critique, my work explores the design of systems that speculate a reliance on automated methodologies by developing semi-embodied cognition systems for generating business plans.

And to go with the above statement, I have designed a graphic which begins to illustrate my argument that static business practices, as we have now, will not survive in a near future that has such a separation of possibility and capability. The chart shows how new modes of thinking will be required in the process of writing business plans as this gap widens.

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