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.