Meso lab

On this page I will share some of my insight gained through research, development and experimentation. These insights are largely gained through learning with leadership teams about their contexts.

The topic is all about the experimenting on ways to improve the resilience, relevance and dynamism of the meso space. If you have the link to this page then I am going to assume you know what this is all about then.

Formal learning will be published on the Meso Organisational Development theme-age on the website.

Here are the questions I am currently exploring with different clients, research groups and fellow adventures.

  • How do we figure out which organisations are out there?
  • How do we figure out how meso organisations or more specifically, which meso programmes can be improved and how? One result here
  • Can we improve the meso space without an in-depth diagnosis of the micro-level of enterprises?
  • What are the key roles of different kinds of organisations? For instance, what can only business membership organisations do that is different from what incubators, extension services or education programmes can do?
  • How can we improve innovation in public organisations that instigate innovation in the private sector?
  • How can we improve the dynamics of knowledge exchange and collaboration between different meso organisations? One attempt to map and improve expectations of meso organisations can be found here.
  • How to make the mesospace more visible, and how to enable synergy development, specialisation and closer collaboration? My favourite attempt is here.

Meso programme or organisation assessment

This is an improvement on the previous meso assessment benchmarking instrument. You can try it by clicking on the links below.

Here is a link to the latest version of the Meso programme assessment. The idea is that a leadership team of a programme (or maybe a whole organisation) will complete this.

Here is an example of the Programme asessment scoreboard. The idea is that this scoreboard will be used by a change facilitator to reflect with the leadership team on their answers to identify priorities, areas of improvement and issues that must be investigated a little more in-depth than what an online assessment can do.

How it works:

The assessment elements draw from my PhD research into market failures, especially of knowledge-intensive business services needed by companies. The survey results are captured in a google sheet, and with some clever formulas, the scoreboard is created. This process can be customised for each organisation. It is not too difficult to change or add to the questions.

What can still be improved:

I would love to sit with a group of people and brainstorm how the formulation of the different statements can be improved.

Also, I think we can next develop slightly different assessments for different kinds of meso programmes. Maybe a business membership organisation needs some additional elements (like around financial sustainability) that is different from an incubator (how to make sure the right technological infrastructure is in place).

Mapping the expectations of different meso organisations in an ecosystem

We were asked to support the improvement of the dynamism and collaboration in a network of meso organisations in South Africa in the bio sector. Our client gave us an initial list of meso organisations.

We developed a simple survey that allowed each organisation to express their expectations of each of the organisations identified. During the process we discovered a whole bunch of organisations that were included in the process.

At the next stakeholder event we presented each organisation with an aggregated list of expectations that were expressed in their organisation on an A3 sheet. Each organisations representatives could then sit together and reflect on the expressed expectations, and could mark which expectations they agree with, and which expectations were unreasonable or simply wrong.

Each organisation then had a chance to publicly state what they can and cannot do.

We urged all the participants to not only reflect on what others expressed but to also go back and think of how they can better manage expectations in future.

Making the meso system more visible

Annelien and I worked together on this one where our client wanted a meso system to become more visible, and to foster more collaboration. In general, the idea was not to create an excel sheet of organisations, but to find ways to help these organisations realise what others are doing, what resources are available in the meso system, where the specialised resources are, and how the dynamic can be improved.

We used a simple Google Form to collect information about each organisation. We collected information on:

  • What is the organisation’s offer?
  • What resources do they have?
  • Which markets do they serve?
  • Which links in the value do they specifically target?
  • Who else do they work with?

After these initial questions, we realised that we also have to ask:

  • Which kinds of enterprises can they not assist?
  • What are the pre-conditions for using their service?

We then exported the Google Sheet into the mapping software of Kumu. We turned our Kumu map into a presentation.

Here are some highlights:

National and provincial focus of meso programmes
End market prioritisation
Focus on different links on the value chain
Programmes focused on Boabab seed oil
Programme focus on different species

Improving the resolution of the mesospace