Yesterday I was invited to help Axis and the ever wonderful Culture Vulture to run a ‘Cultural Conversation’ to help a group of around 60 artists, project managers, collectors and gallery managers to explore the role of social media in supporting their work. The group included some social media users and ‘experts’ (I use that word cautiously) and one or two technical types. Peopl trsavelled from all over the north of England to take part and the venue at Project Space Leeds was rammed!
Instead of using the default setting of finding some experts to explain it all to the numpties we went with an open space meeting. In this format groups of people meet to explore as peers the issues and topics they wish to explore. They set the agenda, in real time on the day, and learn by exchanging experiences, insights and challenges. They talk to each other, like human beings, in conversations.
In under four hours the group of 60 were each able to attend 4 conversations chosen from a schedule of 18 or so. The topics included:
- ‘What is Twitter and How Do I Use It’
- Social Media Dialogue as Artwork’
- I am Completely Overwhelmed! Where Do I Start?
- Using Social Media for Critique
and many more.
Despite the fact that there are no experts holding forth, no lectures and no exhibitions the feedback from those who attended was excellent. They enjoyed the process, they learned a lot, and most (perhaps all?) went away enthused about increasing or changing the way they use social media either to produce or attract and audience to their work.
This kind of open space conversation that builds relationships amongst participants and fosters enquiry and peer learning, rather than sitting passively while an expert holds forth, seem to me to be consistently effective ways to both build the social capital that forms the bedrock of an enterprising community and enable them to access the insights that they need to know, right now. Indeed as the afternoon wore on a few new conversations were added as people though ‘Right, know I need to find out about….’
60 people smiling, laughing, talking, challenging, enquiring and advocating. In short being human and exploring the implications of social media for something that they love.
A low cost, high value and extremely productive contribution to the enterprising ecosystem. At a time when we need to be creating more value for less cash I can’t help that the world of enterprise development needs to embrace this type of peer to peer learning event. We not be able to do much to improve the transport infrastructure in the city without a great big dollop of cash from government, but we can surely improve the enterprising infrastructure for next to nothing!
Some more thoughts were captured on the day in this audioboo - Why Open Space Works for Artists
This practical workshop will introduce you to the theory and practice of social marketing – how to use marketing techniques to achieve specific behavioural goals designed to lead to social good.
Whether you are trying to promote healthy lifestyles, encourage people back into work or to start a business, get back into education, or engage in a campaign, an understanding of social marketing can help you to:
- find new people who want to work on your agenda
- support them on their journey to make real change happen
- get the right people at the right events at the right time
What Will You Learn?
You will learn how to:
- Develop marketing collateral (leaflets, posters and websites) that might just work
- Use the media effectively – PR and role models that work
- Build ‘Word of Mouth’ strategies and referral networks
- Work with ‘gatekeepers’ to ‘gain entry‘
- Manage introductions in the community
The day will involve some theory and explore a number of examples of good and not so good social marketing campaigns. Participants will have the opportunity to apply what they learn to a real campaign of their own.
What is social marketing and how can I use it?
What behaviours are we trying to promote?
Using Segmentation to Increase Impact
Eating an Elephant – bite sized chunks….
Social Marketing Tools – with a focus on emerging social media (twitter, facebook, wikis etc)
The Role of Traditional Marketing and PR
Developing a Social Marketing Campaign (making a start)
Marketing through Relationships and Networks
Find out more and book your space –
On Friday afternoon @culturevultures convened one of the best business support/development sessions I have witnessed in the last 30 years.
Some 30 creatives came together in a room donated by a local managed workspace to provide peer to peer support on a range of topics related to marketing, branding, writing and social media. Lots of expertise in the room, lots of desire to explore and learn. No-one labelled as an adviser – no-one labelled as a client. Just lots of people willing to share what they knew and ask for help with what they didn’t.
No public funding at all. Just people donating whatever they thought it was worth. Donations were used to help pay for cupcakes and cocktails and an afternoon of fun.
Business development as it should be.
This is what the public sector could be paying for.
Time to get a little more collaborative methinks. I love writing about enterprise, entrepreneurship and community. And now I want to up the ante when it comes to collaboration and sharing of good practice.
So I have set up a wiki for all things Enterprise Coaching where we can hold discussions, share documents and collaborate on writing stuff.
Join the wiki here:
Don’t let anyone tell you who you really are….
I have written about this formulation before, that enterprise is a factor of power and self interest. It is still working for me and bearing fruits.
I was attracted to this video from Demos that provides some useful insights into, and questions around, the nature of power.
So what do you think?
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There is so much great on-line training for people who wish to start, or are thinking about starting, or are looking to develop and existing business. I wonder why we don’t encourage our clients to make more use of it. (Could it be because we are too focused on bums on OUR seats and hits to OUR websites).
On-line learning does not suit everybody – and much of it does originate from the USA – but it is a wonderful resource that the engaged and committed would use AND it can be a tremendous vehicle for establishing client commitment and learning styles.
Here is a page with 85 FREE online learning resources for entrepreneurs.
Wouldn’t it be great if advisers and coaches could use on-line learning management systems with a full range of on-line and off-line resources that allowed us to help clients to manage their own learning – and ensure that what we taught actually was correlated with later success?
If we could help connect would be entrepreneurs with sources of advice and support through social media networks.
If we could provide regular ‘nudges’ and opportunities to engage through applications like Twitter and Facebook?
When I was looking at this a few (10?) years back the technology was expensive and unreliable. Now most of it is free/low cost AND more or less ubiquitous. Most of the publicly funded business support sector is so digitally illiterate (the ranks are not exactly swollen with digital natives) and focused on old bums on seats/intensive assists metrics that I don’t expect a web 2.0 revolution in this sector anytime soon.
Anyone up for a Digital Britain?
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You can usually trust a good comedian to get down the truth of the matter, and David Mitchell has done just this with the Dragons’ Den format.
“Dragons’ Den is a bare-faced lie about how business is done,” he says. “The people who do that job are not rude because there’s no percentage for anyone in them being so.
“They don’t sanctimoniously tick people off nor do they spend 10 minutes thinking up a weak pun which combines their wish not to invest with the field of the invention in question – ‘A new type of cheese, I’d have to be crackers to invest’ as if they’re auditioning for the Beano.
“Dragons den not only misrepresents rudeness for straightforwardness, but also implies that this is how successful business people behave.”
Rudeness aside Dragons’ Den is responsible for other misconceptions that damage the perception of enterprise and entrepreneurship:
- Getting investment is a competition. The best entry wins whether it is good bad or indifferent. (Specifically this is what the enterprise professionals ‘teach’ when they try to piggy back on Dragon’s Den to get their engagement numbers up. The dragons themselves would invest in any and every opportunity that meets their investment criteria.)
- Any business that does not meet the criterion for investment from a venture capitalist is not a good business. “It might make a decent business for you and your family – but there is not enough in it to interest me – I’m out“. This echoes and reinforces the disdain that much of the public sector has for ‘lifestyle’ businesses. They seem to forget that most entrepreneurs learn the ropes in life style businesses before some of them get bigger aspirations. As I believe Peter Drucker said – ‘You can’t have the mountain top without the mountain.’
- You have to conform to venture capitalist norms and conventions if you are to succeed – everything from the way you dress, your hairstyle through to your knowledge of the numbers (you had better pretend WITH CONVICTION that your crystal ball is good for revenue forecasts at leas three years ahead.
- Investment readiness should be evaluated on a single pitch – there is a simple binary response – yes or no. In fact most investments come as a result of a relationship between an investor and client.
So come on. Let’s drop the Dragon’s Den emulations. No more ‘Strictly Enterprise.’
Instead let’s get down to the hard work of having some informed conversations about enterprise and what it can do for our communities.
Really interesting use of technology by the Make Your Mark people on their Pioneer project.
Essentially young entrepreneurs record video diaries of their journey which they can then use to reflect on and learn from.
for more info.
Couple of observations:
- encouraging entrepreneurial characters to learn from reflective practice can be tricky. They are usually obsessed about diving into the next experience rather than reflecting on the earlier one (generalising I know). This can be a battle worth fighting!
- this sort of project will appeal to those who are already entrepreneurial and risk taking by nature – great that we can support these people – but aren’t they likely to do it anyway? Could we use technology to engage more ‘risk-averse’ and introverted types and use it to engage them in the enterprise agenda too?
Big THUMBS UP for the Make Your Mark team on this one. A real effort at innovative enteprise support!