Plywood is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

It’s a little different than a band-aid, its longer lasting and it helps defend. It’s a lasting material, yet not the ultimate solution. It is jump start on a trajectory toward problem solving. There may be a better solution in the end, but it propels progress in a stagnant place of great need.

Plywood is made of three or more thin layers of wood bonded together. Each layer of wood, known as ply, is usually oriented with its grain running in stark contrast to the adjacent layer in order to reduce the shrinkage and improve the strength of the finished piece. Most plywood is pressed into large, flat sheets used in building construction. There is strength in numbers. Three different independent units working together to solve one problem collectively make a stronger unit.

Finding problems is easy. Recruiting others to join you in solving the problem is hard. To solve problems we must attract great people.

As you start to build your team consider what the shared ethos of the people will value. What is your culture? If someone does not add to the culture of how you operate you will hurt the potential of solving problems. At Plywood People we have a few cultural commitments that our team will always speak through, not around.

1) Plywood People earn the right to be heard. It is clearly known that to gain influence we must not just talk about ideas, rather we show progress and results. This value is communicated through a brand promise, “we will be known by the problems we solve.” The community has been built on the credibility of the people and the commitment they show over a long period of time toward engaging social issues. Many people have great ideas, few make them come to life. As you earn respect, others will call for your opinion and wisdom into their life and projects.

2) Plywood People develops sustainable and innovative solutions to problems. When creating solutions we challenge ourselves to imagine a creation that is changing industry five years from now and disrupting the current culture. We strive to creative innovations for the worlds most pressing problems understanding that it takes forethought, planning and creative execution. We value a return on investment and are committed to showing that solutions can be built in new ways that can be self-sufficient over an extended period of time.

3) Plywood People generously shares knowledge, connections and resources to address social needs.We understand that relationships have been given to us and one of the greatest values is to curate the connections of others. We try to make connections that will enhance ideas in meaningful ways without any personal gain. Generosity is rooted in a lifestyle and we hope to exemplify this with our team that it may be replicated throughout the community.

4) Plywood People create and introduce experiences that make others dream in remarkably new ways. In a digital age, we believe that in person events create opportunity for transformation and connection. We gather people in all different locations and sizes, with the hope of creating an experience that cause others to say wow, and influences the way they live going forward. We value art, content and ambiance for the purpose of connection and learning.

5) Plywood People are doers of unthinkable action. If we have all the greatest ideas in the world and they never come to life, we have failed the reason for ideas. Purpose becomes practical when ideas come to life. We lean toward action and implementation.

The culture you are creating may be in stark contrast to our ethos and that is ok. But, you need to determine what you value otherwise others values will determine your culture. As you attract other people, it is important to understand the way you desire to operate and bring people around you that have an agreeable posture.

Once you understand the ethos you are committed in making with your team, consider the team that you need to make a significant innovation come to life. As we are engaging problem solving there are three key people groups that are essential in launching a social innovation: cultural creatives, innovative business influencers, and social activists.

We pursue 2 aspects in our work.

Education

We host a series of conferences, retreats and events where we are working to educate others in what it looks like to pursue ideas and create change. We work to inspire, challenge, and encourage others in the work being done to make our communities better places. We believe we are able to speak into these projects, because we are doing the hard work ourselves.

Implementation

We have implemented 2 of our own projects, Gift Card Giver and Billboard Bags. Through Gift Card Giver, we collect unused/partially used gift cards, and then give them to people and organizations in need. Through Billboard bags, we employ refugees who go through a job training course learning English, Financial Management, and how to sew, with the goal of moving them into jobs where they are able to make more than minimum wage.