I’ve had some good conversations over the past week. And they’ve helped me shape some beliefs and thoughts. Both in the context of Budd’s business and the Customer Experience Pro Bono that’s shaping up with well with over 50 people contributing. The energy in the room at a Pro Bono gathering in Smithfield last week was awesome.

The issue with Pro Bono is 2 fold. Making it happen. Making it scalable. So it makes a difference.

In discussing a vision for how Pro Bono could work I had some clear views. In discussing other people’s businesses, it emerged how to explain why I thought of it that way.

What’s the engine? – Getting the word out, no heavy structure, no budgets, no fees, no “middle”. Just a platform with principles for matching supply and demand for people with professional skills who are willing to help charities or worthy causes, provided the commitment is defined and they feel they won’t let anyone down when they have busy lives. If it’s to scale to 1000s of people, we need minimalism.

What’s the fuel? – finding out what people are really passionate to help and bringing those causes to them

Why do I believe this is optimal? This was harder to distill…

a) LimeBridge ( our international business) thrived because of some clear principles, no “middle”, no budget, no overhead. It has no waste as people don’t do anything that isn’t a good use of their time. In short it’s a model that works. It’s minimalist management.

b) Now is the time of “platforms”. Tech start ups and incubators are all the rage again. But the big scalable plays from the last era of tech start ups were the platform plays – things that allowed people to do stuff they wanted to do but couldn’t do easily otherwise. They were category killers. Amazon allowed discovery, comparison, ease. Google allowed access, intelligence, photographic memory. eBay allowed you to do commerce safely. Facebook allowed you to know, to find, to see.

For pro bono to work it needs to be a platform of great ease. It can’t be hard – it’s a dating agency based on passions at its simplest level. Someone out there has a widget to do this on Linked In, or a site to rent ( anybody?). The platform creates the environment and system in which to thrive.

c) Pro Bono is about focusing people’s passions, not constraining them or wrapping them in rules. People do their best work, are most motivated when they are clear how to help and they are free to get on with it. It’s about releasing and reinforcing positivity.

So to paraphrase Pink, this blog should end up in 5 years time like “a conversation with my 13 year old self”. If I’m in the future, I want to look back at this week of conversations and see why Pro Bono group is doing a lot of worthwhile stuff.

To see more on Pro Bono, search groups on Linked In for “Customer Experience Pro Bono” and simply become a member.

With thanks to Neil Jervis (whose passion has powered this forward), the many participants in Smithfield last week ( you know who you are…..), Tim Kitchin ( best brain on the planet ), Paul Smedley, an Aspen/Round A team reunion.