Tag Archives: ideation

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Today was a big day for us baby entrepreneurs: ideation day. While Linda is off across the country, the 5 of us met sans “leader” to get all of the ideas that have been rolling around in our brains (and many that hadn’t) written down. We were cautioned ahead of time to just get the ideas out with no judgment, that no idea was too small or too big, no idea silly or stupid, just ideas. Quantity over quality. While we definitely got sidetracked on a few of these ideas, discussing them in more detail, we didn’t limit or discard anything that came from today’s brainstorm. And, as a group, we chose to talk about each idea instead of just writing our own fast and furious on our sticky notes. We made this decision because we felt like some ideas would snowball, or spawn other ideas. This working together to create each idea ended up instigating a lot of new, related ideas, and was also a great opportunity for us to see what each other’s interests and values are in action. Once we had created a giant sticky wall of ideas for our entrepreneurial venture (seen here a bit later, after we had organized and categorized), we got down to the tricky stuff: what criteria are we going to use to cull these nearly 50 ideas into a single project.

Our development of criteria was based on the Doability framework in Effectual Entrepreneurship by Stuart Reed, Saras Sarasvathy, Nick Drew, Robert Wiltbank and Anny-Valérie Ohlsson, which queries: Is it doable? Is it worth doing? Can I do it? And, Do I want to do it?. While our discussion on this criteria progressed, we ended up having a parallel conversation about guidelines for our interpersonal relationship as we work together on this project. In addition to setting the amount of time we were able and willing to spend building this product/project/performance/something, we talked about communicating our limits honestly to each other on a week by week basis, and respecting each other’s limits. While we discussed a major criterion, selecting a project that we are ALL excited about, we set the ground rule of honesty. It was important to all of us, especially as we thought about our continued investment in the project through the course of a semester, that we are honest about what interests us and what does not, and that expressing those opinions is respected by the rest of the group.

We talk a lot in the theater world about creating a safe space, a place where collaborators can share emotion, personal stories, and be willing to try and fail and learn and then try again. As the five of us prepare to try something new, with that same cycle of try and fail and learn and try again, that same safe space seems to have become important. What we heard over and over today was the word respect: for each other’s ideas, time, limitations, abilities, interests, and more. We are about to launch this process with a newly defined and heightened respect for each other, the whole person, and for ourselves. We started to create not just the road map for our project, but the far more important road map: how we work together. While we can be certain that our project will morph and change direction as we go, these principles we have built for collaborating will keep us on track, keep us adapting, and keep us collaborating and creating as a unified team.

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You Gotta Use What You Got

“Sticking very closely to who you are, what you know, and who you know not only tells you what to do, it is also very useful in telling you what not to do.” [1]

     I’d say the above advice heeds well in many life situations, such as taking an unfamiliar job or going on a blind date. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t take risks and maybe go out with someone who isn’t our type, per say; but having an acute sense of self-awareness can serve us well. Maybe it’s just me, but the times I’ve dated someone whose fundamental beliefs were not in line with mine never ended well. I pride myself in being a fairly self-aware person, and although a little red flag was waving around in my gut, I just didn’t listen. So that didn’t end well. Anyone else? Just me? Okay, moving past the dating metaphor: understand who you are and, to quote the rarely produced musical, The Life: “Remember to use whatcha got to get everything you want.”[2]

     Chapter 6 of Effectual Entrepreneurship stresses the importance of being means-driven versus goals-driven, an idea that perhaps hadn’t occurred to me previously. I love making personal goals for myself, maybe even thrive on it, but as this chapter explains, the problem is goals don’t inspire us to take action right now. As I read the chapter, I realized my to-do list is what makes me take action, not necessarily my lofty goals for where I’d like to be after graduation in 2 years. When I write these to-do lists, I’m being means-driven, or understanding what I can and cannot accomplish and just going for it. After all, I know I can clean the bathroom today and I know exactly how to go about accomplishing that; I’m not sure the first step towards publishing my plays and having them produced to wild, international success (uhh…). Goals can be lofty and scary. If we as entrepreneurs are means-driven, we will not wait for a blockbuster idea, or thousands of start-up cash to begin the venture; rather, we will be inspired to take action because we have a clear idea of where to begin.

So how do we know what our means are? In class on Wednesday, we worked on understanding who we are, what we know and who we know, which will add up to what we have, or the resources with which to work. First, we ranked our top five values from a list of 30+, including honesty, faith, humor, health, integrity, passion, success, work, wealth and so on. Writing our values on post-its, they were then stuck to the wall for everyone to check out. There were some definite overlaps, like humor and integrity/honesty, which is a good sign, I’d say.

photo

As we worked our way through the chart, scribbling down our passions and hobbies and ruminating over our knowledge bases and professional networks, there was a fair amount of overlap. We are all about the same age, all studying for Master of Fine Arts degrees at the same school, so performance skills, theatre production skills and the names of faculty at ASU popped up again and again. Nevertheless, as working artists, we do have a wide network of connections across the state, and I am extremely excited to see which resources we can leverage as we begin our business venture.

Our yellow post-its will continue to be used tomorrow when we begin the ideation process. I look forward to challenging myself to remain means-driven over goals-driven and keeping in mind who I am, what I know and who I know in order to understand what I have to contribute to the group.

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[1] Read, S., Sarasvathy, S., Dew, N., Wiltbank, R., Ohlsson, A-V. (2011) Effectual Entrepreneurship. New York: Routledge.

[2] Use What You Got Lyrics. http://www.metrolyrics.com/use-what-you-got-lyrics-a.html.