Strategic Questions

Considering a number of strategic questions to cover in 2015. These are the sorts of questions a team needs to ask/investigate in order to really know the area they are focused on – the opportunities and challenges. What I have so far in brief

1. Demographics – population size, annual growth, sources of growth
2. Urbanization – size, % of population, annual growth rate, urbanism vs rural culture
3. Ethnic makeup – majorities, minorities, diasporas
4. Diaspora – global connectedness, visa availability, long-term residency, economic ties
5. Regulation – levels of regulation, repression, persecution, LibG vs LibS
6. Communication - how information is acquired, shared
7. What attitudes prevent the spread of the Gospel, and disciplemaking?

Global Cities: Present and Future 2014 Report

Global Cities, Present and Future
2014 Global Cities index and emerging cities outlook
A. T. Kearney, downloadable PDF, iPad, Kindle.

Important report. But the PDF is only a downloadable summary; it does not include the individual indicators per city.

Top 20 Cities
New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Chicago, Beijing, Singapore, Washington, Brussels, Seoul, Toronto, Sydney, Madrid, Vienna, Moscow, Shanghai, Berlin, Buenos Aires.

Top 10 Emerging Cities
Jakarta, Manila, Addis Ababa, Sao Paulo, New Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, Bogota, Mumbai, Nairobi, Kuala Lumpur, Bangalore, Beijing, Johannesburg, Kolkata, Istanbul, Cape Town, Chennai, Tunis, Dhaka, Caracas.

Probably, these are the cities that would form the bulk of an updated Gateway Cities list.

The “Human Capital” index takes into account the size of foreign-born population and so is a measure of diaspora. Business activity looks at among other things the number of top global companies in emerging countries.

Diaspora Scale

Diaspora Scale:
+0 little migration or tourism, expats often “strange” and “unusual”
+1 Occasional visitor, some tourism, resorts, vacations
+2 Significant tourism, semi-permanent internal migrants, some foreigners
+3 Major regional traffic hub, diasporas often seen
+4 International migration, business, illegals
+5 Global hub for migration, tourism, business, travel

+1 would be for local tourists (and some foreign). +2 is more where foreign tourism begins to get into play, and foreign business. +3 means you’re seeing significant internal migration and migrants from surrounding countries. +4 means that if your in Asia, you’re probably seeing migrants from all over Asia and some other regions (Africa, Europe). +5 is the top of the top, a hub for business, pilgrims, tourists, migrants, the works. +5 probably wouldn’t be assigned to more than about… 1% of cities?

7 Questions Every Business Must Answer

From Peter Thiel’s “Zero to 1,” chapter 13:

“Technology”: a new way of doing things, the application of knowledge to practical purposes

1. Engineering: can you create breakthrough technology, not incremental?
2. Timing: is now the right time to start a business?
3. Monopoly: are you starting with a big share of a small market?
4. People: do you have the right team?
5. Distribution: do you have a way to not just create but deliver your technology to those who will consume it?
6. Durability: will your market position be defensible for 10-20 years in the future?
7. Secret: have you identified a unique opportunity others don’t see?

Parallel questions can be asked by those trying to pioneer a mission startup to catalyze a church planting movement. All of the processes involved in a CPM (such as a Discovery Bible Study, how disciples make disciples, how they pass it on, specific trainings, the reproducibility of baptism) are “technologies” (the application of knowledge to practical purposes). Simply reading Scripture and saying “how do we do this” (e.g. 1 Corinthians 14:26) is developing a technology, in a sense. These technologies can be “breakthrough technologies” if the enable the Gospel to spread widely through a culture (obviously some Western “technologies” create barriers in non-Western areas).

Timing is also critical. There is an obvious before-and-after moment in Albania. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be trying to do something now in North Korea but the timing would be improved if the closed government there fell.

Monopoly: better to start in a defined place and with a defined people. The most fragile time for a movement is the early stage. We see this with Ebola. Zeynep, “The real reason everyone should panic,” is illustrative of the other side: the desire to kill a movement or epidemic in its early stage before it reaches multiplication. Her article illustrates why getting to larger population levels as rapidly as possible is desirable in our case. Control measures become difficult when thousands of people are involved. Once the million-person line is crossed, it becomes nearly impossible. Getting to thousands, then hundreds of thousands, and then to a million as rapidly as possible is critical.

People: lots more could be written about getting the right team. The right vision is an important filter for the right team. Best filter is John Knox: “Give me _x_ or I die.” The whole of X, not just a sub section of it.

Distribution: need some form of viral distribution method, but conversations with David B & others suggest that distribution methods differ in urbanist cultures vs rural cultures. In urbanist cultures messages are not passed as easily via word of mouth. There are a lot more gatekeepers who can stop, and the relationships are far more shallow. Understanding this is undoubtedly going to be very important and an area for study in 2015. Mass media will play a stronger role in urban areas, DB argues, and I think he’s likely right.

Durability: this is the big deal for CPMs. Catalysts have to be engaged for a long time. It can take 2+ years just to find the initial early adopters. If a given target area (a country, province, district, city, whatever) can kick the catalysts out before the movement starts (effectively killing the movement by dealing with “Patient Zero”) then the movement can be cancelled there. This is one of the reasons I theorize its so hard to do something in places like Turkey, Central Asia stans, Libya, etc. The populations are more controlled and in many cases are much smaller, so chokepoints are easier.

Secret: Thiel’s argument about secrets is that they are “hidden opportunities” or things that most people have overlooked. For us we can think of them as unique or creative access points into a particular area, previously unseen platforms of blessing.

Humans Need Not Apply

Update: for contrast, see Kevin Kelly’s, “Robots will take our jobs” in Wired.

Blog 2.0

After some thought, I’ve decided to renew the blog. I have more formal, published resources, and I have interaction on social media, and I have a regular weekly newsletter. But the blog serves another purpose.

I really need a spot where I can record some half formed thoughts, links and resources I might want to reshare later, and the like. That’s what a blog is really for, in my mind–a place where, as Seth Godin once wrote, you can, on a regular basis, write down what you are thinking.

I am not going to push the blog posts to social media. They are as much for me as for anyone who reads them. If you find something useful, feel free to reshare it. But please note that what is published here does not go through the same vetting process as the more formal writings. So I would rather you not publish this in formal settings without my approval first. I might write something here and change my mind in a day or two based on new data. I do, of course, welcome comments and feedback.