The contributions log is an important module of the infrastructure that captured valuable additions to a value system. This log is used by a value equation to redistribute benefits, and by the role system to show who is doing what.
Affiliates (agents) engage in activities that are recorded, these activities can be turned into contributions is they satisfy certain criteria.
Contributions can be of different types (see below).
Types of contributions
- Time-based contributions: are characterized by a continuous labour, small tasks. Examples are office work, R&D, infrastructure work, marketing, etc. NOTE that time is only an indicator of the value created.
- Material contributions: contributions with tools, equipment, parts, consumables...
- Space contributions: contributions with a space, physical (offering a laboratory) or virtual (hosting a website).
- Financial contributions: contributions in cash, for example buying something or making a cash infusion
- Contributions with social capital: opening new markets, bringing new clients, creating new interfaces with other networks, recruiting new members...
- Contributions with natural capital: renewable energy, resources and materials...
- add other...
Main characteristics of the system
- Make the process of logging contributions easy, intuitive and fun
- Dynamically adapt to changes in the value network: new affiliates, new projects, new governance...
- Fit different types of activities: R&D, manufacturing, ...
Forms are tools used to input activity data into the NRP-VAS. We identified different types of forms.
- For R&D activities the open lab book was proposed as interface to log time, materials and financial contributions. Work was done in this direction, but it was not finished.
- For office and administrative work a task/project management system (with scheduling capability) was proposed as interface to log time-based contributions.
- For manufacturing a task management system was proposed as interface to log contributions.
- add others...
- Network-integrated logging methods use the structure of the network as a context to provide information for the user interface, and to place the member's contributions into the network structure. For example Design notes for work contribution interfaces. See also Network-integrated process logging tutorial
- Work contributions would be logged in the context of the network production schedule, and so the forms would include the values used and the values created.
- Financial contributions to purchase materials could select from the materials required for the network production schedule, and log both their financial contribution and the materials they purchased. If they purchased materials that would have lead times, they could also log the expected availability date.
- Value flows for designs. Designs and ideas need special treatment.
SENSORICA's new NRP system
See SENSORICA VAS tutorials page.
SENSORICA's first prototype of contribution log system
SENSORICA used Google Spreadsheet to store contributions logs. Three spreadsheets were used in the beginning, for logging time, materials, and cash contributions. These spreadsheets had forms associated with them to ease the logging process. These forms could be accessed from Google Docs (later Drive), or from the Log your contribution webpage on SENSORICA's website. This webpage was not accessible to the public, because the forms were not secured.
The problem with this system is that Google Forms are static entities. For example, the list of agents cannot adapt dynamically to data from another spreadsheet dedicated to store the information about all agents.
- The time contributions log: The agent would pick his name from a list, chose different types of activities from another list, and chose the project(s) associated with these activities from yet another list. The total time spent was entered into a text box, and another paragraph box was available to add comments or to detail the total time in individual activities.
- The materials contributions log: The agent would pick his name from a list, chose from another list the type of material (rolling stock, office furniture, office equipment, production R&D equipment, production R&D tools, computer equipment), chose if the material was given (to be part of the pool of shareables) or landed (IF landed what are the conditions of use, duration, etc), estimated value, project associated with its use,... The total estimated value was entered into a text box, and another paragraph box was available to add comments or to detail the contribution.
8 The financial contributions log: The agent would pick his name from a list, chose from another list the type of financial contribution (cash infusion, administrative expenses, production and R&D, sales expenses, capital assets). Every choice from the types list lead to a specific list or items to chose from. These choices follow normal accounting categories. A paragraph box was available to add comments or to detail the contribution.
This data was processes and different graphics were extracted from the three contributions spreadsheets and displayed on the website.
Psychological barriers to logging
Experience within SENSORICA suggests that there are physiological barriers to logging (how others are going to judge me for having logged that?). In order to diminish these barriers, in order to make people more confident in their logging, we need to state some principles, explicitly. We need to post those somewhere to make it visible for everyone. Perhaps a help feature on the process logging page (the place where you log your time in the NRP-VAS).
What if someone tries something that ends up not working? This can be for many reasons:
- exploring a path that leads to a sub-optimal
- lack of understanding or experience that leads to a mistake
For 1. there are always different paths to get to a solution, and the best one might not be known until we try. The individual who tries one leading to a sub-optimal solution and documents that, reduces the number of possibilities for the next individual, thus increasing the probability to get to the best solution. This log would be valid.
2. is of a different nature. The individual can learn something in this process and became more effective and can even transfer his/her knowledge to someone else. The group improves, because it increased the overall experience and can do more in the future. There's another dimension to this: The individual was the only one available to do something, he/she decided to bite the bullet to do it, his/her intention was to create value, but he/she failed the first time, for lack of proper understanding. We need to encourage people who try to step up to the task more often, when no one is there. Doing that, by creating positive incentives, by not punishing mistakes in this context, we increase the probability of value to be created. Learning and R&D are intimately interrelated.
Now 2. can be gamed more easily than 1. So we need to apply peer review to prevent abuse.
There is more to this.
A log is just a claim for revenue. It becomes a contribution if the deliverable is used in the process or if the project affiliates accept it as a lesson learned or a genuine effort to advance the project. Tony helped us conceptualize this better.
So ask yourself if your participation increases the probability of creating value and if this participation, once logged, will be accepted as a contribution.
In case of 1. document your efforts, explain why the lead was necessary, as part of the spectrum of possible paths to the solution, and document the lesson learned. The lesson learned is a deliverable that will help others understand why not to try that again, and perhaps it will give them a better idea about which other path to explore first. In case of 2. explain what you learned and demonstrate that your intention was valid. In other words, mount a case for yourself, to reduce the probability of a rejection (a red flag) of your log.
Things you can do before making steps that might lead you into a dead end.
If you think you're taking a risky step, meaning that your work might not be considered as a valid claim for revenue or equity, build support for your initiative.
For example, you are facing two possible paths that involve a lot of time exploring or doing them, if you choose one that falls in disfavour from the group your claim might be rejected. In this case, you can socialize the decision making process - put the issue on a Forum and try to build consensus around one of the other. If you build support, you can be reassured that your log will be accepted, even if it turns out to be a wring decision. You can take small decisions on yourself.
The main point here is that we need to make some principles visible and to give people a method for how to think about it, to reduce their insecurity.