Posts Tagged ‘training’

‘Bottom Up’ is the New Black

November 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Leeds – Dec 1st

Whether it is more ‘civic enterprise’, community engagement or ‘Big Society,’ people with power, but increasingly little money, are looking for new ways to get things done.  The large capital infrastructure projects have not given us more inclusive communities and now we can’t afford them any way, so in some quarters at least interest is shifting from old school top down strategy to a more emergent process of bottom up development.  To processes where large numbers of people can shape their own futures and as a result the futures of the communities that they live in.

But making the shift from top down to bottom up is far from easy….

Over the last few years I have been developing low and no cost approaches to economic, personal and community development leading to new projects such as:

These are my best efforts to provide an infrastructure that allows the private, public, third sector and those of ‘no sector’ to give and get the help that they need to develop enterprising projects and people, and for the development of ‘community’ by building relationships and networks around local activists.  To bring ‘bottom up’ development to life.

This one day masterclass will provide:

  • an overview of the ‘responsive’, bottom up philosophy that underpins each of these projects and its relationship to more commonly found ‘strategic efforts at community development and strategy implementation
  • the implications for strategists and policy developers of the patterns and themes for development that emerge from these bottom up activities
  • practical ‘warts and all’ insights into each of the 5 projects listed above including their progress, impact and cost base
  • an exploration of the links between the various projects and how they work together to provide an infrastructure for progress
  • an overview of the factors that drive their development and an exploration of how these can be managed
  • insights into how the projects manage social inclusion
  • opportunities to explore how these projects can be used to inform economic, community and personal development in your own area.

Who Should Attend?

  • Professionals and practitioners interested in new apporaches to economic and community development
  • Councillors and lcoal authority staff with responsibility for neighbourhoods and community
  • Representatives from the private sector with an interest in community and neighbourhood development, corporate social repsonsibility or looking to develop links with their community
  • Funders looking for new ideas in community development and regneration
  • Local people looking for affordable and accessible approaches to community development
Find out more and book your place here –
First 15 to book get 50% off.

Elsie is Born…

I seem to have been a bit quiet on this blog, while I have been doing other things, including pushing Progress School along, working on Collaborate Leeds and incubating a new idea which has finally found the light of day today:

The Leeds Community Enterprise Accelerator or Elsie for short.  This provides a community based network of support to local enterprise coaches, advisors, facilitators, in fact to anyone who is helping someone else in the community to make progress.

I have high hopes for Elsie in post Business Link austerity economy.  I think it will provide a sustainable high value model to provide practical crowd sourced enterprise support to those that most want and need it.

Have a look at Elsie and tell me what you think.

The E in LEP is for ENTERPRISE

November 9, 2010 1 comment

Not Economic.

Not Entrepreneurial.


If LEPs really focused on encouraging enterprise rather than economic growth how would things change?

If LEPs looked at how they create a culture where enterprise (the ability to act boldly in pursuit of progress) was the norm rather than the exception, a mass participation sport, something that was seen as cool and for everyone, not just those smart ‘entrepreneurial types in suits’ what sorts of things would they be doing?

How would our communities change?

What would happen to our economy?

A Community Ecology of Enterprise

November 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Enterprise is not just about ‘entrepreneurial types’ and ‘business ideas’.
It is not just about business and commercial endeavour.
If I want to make something happen to improve things in my community I may start a business, but I may start a campaign, or a festival, or a local action group.  I have worked with many people whose motivation was not to develop a business, but to make a difference, and in some cases setting up a business has been a means to that end.  No more than that.  It is simply a means to an end.
Well managed and run these kinds of community based activity all contribute to a more enterprising community and provide the kind of community ecology and practice ground from which commercial endeavours may spring.  They also help to build the social capital that is essential to building a sustainable and resilient local economy and community.
If LEPs were to think more about the kind of community ecology that supports enterprise and how this can be developed I suspect they would get a much greater ROI than on more traditional approaches of advice, managed workspace (we are awash with these in Leeds, mostly under-used and inappropriate for the communities they were built in) and access to finance.
Yes the web matters.  But it won’t be primarily because either a LEP or the national Business Link site offer generic advice and guidance (which to be frank just replicates what is already out there in most cases) but because local sites and sites of shared interest will provide highly specific and contextual advice – usually in the form of dialogue and conversation rather than factsheet.  The web will provide a platform for conversations that cannot easily take place face to face.
We have to start to think differently.  We have to innovate. We have to be prepared to try new approaches.  I hope LEPs are up to the challenge.
For me this means getting away from thinking about one to one advice for high growth, one to small group for lifestyle and start-up (in deprived areas) and one to many (content led websites) for the rest, and instead seriously building the networks, social capital, self belief and self-reliance that will allow our communities to become much more enterprising.

New Enterprise Allowance or New Enterprise Alliance?

October 6, 2010 10 comments

Another government, another push for another 10 000 small businesses to be created from the ranks of the long term unemployed.

To me it seems similar to what we already have under the Flexible New Deal, unless I am missing something: it may be a tad better resourced.  But, I am encouraged that Iain Duncan Smith appears to have a real commitment to social justice, at least, he chairs the cabinet committee on it.   Let’s hope that his commitment to social justice rather than newspaper headlines really shapes this New Enterprise Allowance.

So what are the chances of success for the New Enterprise Allowance, and what might be the pitfalls?

To begin with, although I am a big fan of mentoring, I am not convinced that it is the best way to support people with transitions from unemployment to self employment.  The best mentors (as opposed to coaches) have ‘been there, done that, seen the film and got the t-shirt’.  They can offer sage advice and guidance based on practical experience (usually gained over many years in a specific and relevant industry, and importantly should be chosen by the mentee and not assigned to them by a service provider); Mentors should know what it takes and be available to put in the time and commitment necessary.  Let’s also hope that they are properly trained, supported and supervised in the process of mentoring.  And mentoring should not be a mandatory component but an option, we have to recognise that folks learn in different ways and for some the thought of being mentored just does not cut it.

So, if we must have a mentoring programme let us run it well.  Lets take mentoring seriously.  Let’s make sure that we have enough well trained mentors.  Personally I doubt that we will.  More likely we will find an army of middle managers looking to do some CSR, or rebadge existing enterprise advisers as New Enterprise Allowance Mentors.  Plus ça change…probably

I think the enterprise coaching role is, in places where it has not been confused with enterprise evangelism, much more likely to be effective.  Non directive, facilitated conversations that give people space to develop their options and make their own choices provides a sustainable route to more enterprising communities.  Conversations that don’t use ‘benefits’ and ‘enterprise’ as carrots and sticks to manipulate people to meet government targets and trigger payments by ‘results’.  Our industry is riddled with such practice.  We need conversations that respect people and their right to choose.

I suspect that mentors will work with mentees primarily on ‘the business plan’.  I doubt they will have the coaching skills to really work on developing the person rather than their idea.

Will a decision not to start up be valued and rewarded as highly as a decision to start?  I hope so.

Will the New Enterprise Allowance engage ‘the community’ in supporting local people struggling to make the transition to self employment?  No sign of community panels and networks to support the formal delivery structures.  It is not so much a New Enterprise Allowance that we need in our communities as a New Enterprise Alliance….

Will the scheme be designed to encourage the formation of team based start-ups where complimentary skill sets and personalities ensure that all functions in the business are adequately covered?  I doubt it.  It will, if history is our guide, take the shortest, lowest cost, route from benefits to self-employment, not the route that is most likely to result in a sustainable business with the potential to grow.  While we should be looking to maximise return on investment I suspect we will look to minimise investment.  Cost per start-up will be the metric of choice.  And the sooner we get the better.

The New Enterprise Allowance will be for long term unemployed who ‘want’ to start a business.   Finding the people who really WANT to will be an enormous challenge.  Personally I don’t think it is anywhere near enough for someone to want to start a business.  It needs to be something that they HAVE to if they are to have a decent chance of success.

We have approaching 800 000 people who have been unemployed for more than 6 months.  The New Enterprise Allowance hopes to help 10 000 of them to start a business this year, that is just over 4 in every 500.

  • But which 4?
  • What percentage of the 800 000 will wish to engage with the programme?
  • How many will the delivery mechanism engage with at the start of the process?
  • How many of those will make it through to trading?
  • What positive outcomes will be delivered to those that engage with the programme but decide not to start a business?

This represents a challenge.  To help find the few who really will do the groundwork required and learn what needs to be learned.  It is a challenge both for marketing the scheme and effective psychological contracting between service provider and service user..

And the whole scheme reeks of yet more ‘fast enterprise’.  A couple of mentoring sessions and three half days with a training company and you will be ready to roll.  Well maybe. And maybe not.  Where these sorts of schemes prevail they prioritise the most capable and even then have frightening business failure and loan default rates.  Good business start ups plan and prepare carefully.  They don’t rush it.  There is little point in starting 10 000 new businesses in a year if the survival rates are not good.  And please this time will someone show an interest in survival rates?

Then there is the cash element.  In the transcript of his speech on Conservative Home, IDS is reported as saying:

We will provide business mentoring and a financial package worth up to £2000 to get your business up and running.

Now quite what is meant by ‘a financial package worth up to £2000’ remains to be seen.  Cash grant?  Loan?  Benefits?  But clearly in this transcript it is £2000 in addition to the mentoring provided.

But can anyone explain to me the why the magical figure of £2000?  How about we teach them to access the finance that they need to give their business a well capitalised start?   Whether that is £5 or £5m?  If we are serious about teaching people how to run a small business let’s not cap ambition according to the size of our currently cash strapped treasury pockets.

So at first glance it looks to me like wrong pedagogy, wrong curriculum, wrong ‘financial’ package, wrong pace of change and a failure to embed enterprise culture in the community.  Apart from that all systems are go.  I can already hear the usual suspects sharpening their pencils in anticipation of the invitations to tender.

I hope it is me that is wrong….

What do you think?

Entrepreneur’s Workshop With LOCA

Creative Connections

Date:          Wednesday 21 July

Time:          6.30 – 8.30 pm

Venue: 51b Holme Bank Mills, Station Road, Mirfield, WF14 8NA

(From Mirfield go under the bridge for Mirfield railway station and turn left following the road with the large sign for James Walker Properties.

From Hopton turn right just before the Mirfield railway station bridge and following the road with the large sign for James Walker Properties).

Creative Connections are quarterly events for artists and creative businesses in and around North Kirklees, run by Loca as part of its Creative Business Support Programme.

As well as encouraging the development of a supportive and well connected community of creative people within North Kirklees we are also encouraging people to look at their businesses more professionally and with more of a critical eye. With this in mind we have a very motivational and thought provoking presentation to offer to you.

Mike Chitty is a writer, trainer, coach and adviser on enterprise and entrepreneurship.  Despite having a background in physics his work strikes a chord with creative people and artists of all kinds.  In this 30 minute session Mike will provide a fast paced, honest and highly practical introduction to The Entrepreneur’s Workshop and introduce us to 10 powerful tools that can help us make sure that our creative enterprises serve us rather than the other way round.

Twitter: @mikechitty
Facebook: mikechitty

As an extra bonus, we are holding the evening’s event at the new studio of Andrew Warburton, Area Rugs and Carpets where you be able to view inspirational work by Andrew, Dylan Edwards and Amazed Rugs.  Andrew will once again demonstrate the production methods he uses to create his bespoke, high quality rugs and there will be the opportunity to have a go for the more adventurous among you.

Creative Connections is a chance to meet informally with other creative people to pick up ideas, information and contacts which may be useful in your work.  It’s also a great opportunity to promote your own work and what’s going on creatively in the local area, so please do use it as a platform to let people know about events or projects that you are involved in, or to sound out interest in an idea you’re developing, or to request information.  Why not bring along your portfolio, brochures or other visual material to show your work to others and help develop your contacts?

The Loca team looks forward to seeing you at Creative Connections.  Please contact us if you have any particular access needs.

Please park in the free car park. Andrews studio is under the barriers to the right. There are three small steps up to the workshop with handrails.

The evening is free and light refreshments will be provided.

RSVP to Loca on 01924 488844 or email:

Making Social Marketing Work – 29th July Leeds

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 –