This week began with a slightly pointless trip in to London. I ended last year with a spree of booking on to free events, some of which I added to my calendar incorrectly ? this was one of them. It wasn’t the Blue Monday that it could have been though, with two pretty exciting calls. One confirming that I had won (with a few adjustments) a project to work with a great charity to help them build a framework through which to deliver their social media strategy. The second was about an accelerator programme that I had been thinking about joining for a while, and which at the end of the week I began.
Tuesday and Wednesday were mostly planning, calls about new projects and some discovery around my training idea. After taking part in CASTs design hope last week, I wanted to really hone in on the problem that I will be trying to solve in the form of a user story. User stories are written from the point of view of the person who will be using your product or service. A template might look like;
AS A (user) WHEN (certain scenario) I WOULD LIKE TO (access / do this) SO I CAN (achieve my aim).
Building out user stories is a really useful way of visualising quite a ‘wooly’ idea as a more formulated and structured point to focus on. You can use this method for many processes, from starting to solve a problem to helping to structure tasks for a project. It’s one of many techniques used to help move projects forward and keep things focused – regularly used as part of an Agile project management practice.
Time for a Thank You!
Here, I must say a huge thank you to Tom Watson for his time this week and for agreeing to get involved with the project as it stands and include my survey in this week’s NAVCA newsletter. Thank you Tom! The survey has now been opened more than 100 times and is showing some really interesting trends. I will, I promise share these by the beginning of next month.
In preparation for what was going to be an intensively focussed weekend I took it a bit easy on Thursday and Friday, shifting the balance a little more towards things I wanted to do, at work and home, than things that needed to be done.
On Saturday I began the Escape Accelerator a 12 week programme through which I hope to take the base problem that I aim to solve with my training idea closer to a testable product. I’ve described what I will be experiencing over the next 12 weeks as a longer, more in depth version of the apprentice finale, where they pitch their business idea to Lord Sugar. The day began with an ice breaking challenge. Split into groups of 4, we had to complete some tasks. From ask a stranger for £5 and don’t give it back to Singing in the street, and interviewing someone who loves their job. We had just 30 mins to do these. The purpose? To show us that we can do things that we feel uncomfortable with, this was just a short version of what we will experience over the next 12 weeks. The rest of the day was focused on getting to know each other an beginning to work out our purpose – finding the why.
Sunday, was all about idea generation. We went through a few processes that I’ve done before and others that were new. One new one that I liked was when we were asked to write an object onto a post-it. The object could be anything, a mug, banana, pen, shoe lace, what ever it was that popped in to your mind. Then, we had to partner with another person on the course who had also written the name of an object. In 2 minutes we were asked to come up with as many ideas of things that could bring the two objects together. It was a really great exercise to open the creative part of our minds and to start thinking of things beyond the idea that we’d joined the accelerator with. Some people came up with physical ways in which the objects could link, such as a chocolate éclair mug that when frozen was an icy treat. Others thought more of services, like the combination of football and a surf board to a sporty away weekend.
After this we then began to think of our ideas. Starting with the problem that we hoped to solve and used an idea matrix to work out which to focus on. This was a technique that I’ll likely be appropriating to help prioritise things not only as I continue this journey but with clients too. It really helped see clarity. After lunch it was time to pitch, eek! We had 30 seconds to explain our problem and what the solution might be – outlining our idea.
Further on into the afternoon we looked at habit formation, finding time and productivity. It was difficult to draft out my normal week, each and everyone is very different. I did still manage to find some routines and work out where my focus time for this project will be. I think I will have to treat it to begin with in the same way that I would any client project. Blocking out time each week across the course to complete tasks such as user research and eventually building a thing.
Well, it’s been quite a long week so I’ll sign off here. Until next time x