Monday 23 April 2012

Idea Transform - An Act of Co-Creation

Speaking as an "ordained entrepreneur," both halves of me have a strong interest in acts of co-creation. The best things you (singular) can possibly be involved in making will be made by you (plural). And Idea Transform is an example of that in at least two ways.

First, Mauro Ciaccio, Chris Measures and I have a strong and shared interest in events that help people with ideas become teams with running projects. We have very different backgrounds, personalities and styles, but we have lots in common as well. That led us to become local organisers of an event in Cambridge last year - which both proved that something everyone said Cambridge just wouldn't support could be massively successful, and that we could work together under pressure! And we found we had an ambition for more...

Idea Transform is all about making a big difference - and we all want that to become more than just an idea. Along the way, we found friends and supporters, and our ideas were improved by accommodating their insights. (In the case of Jo Vertigan, I think we've absorbed more than just insights, I think we've absorbed Jo along with them!) As I've found so often and in so many ways, a team willing to work hard and put their own reputations on the line will often find support from others giving what they can to support the vision - time, money, facilities, spreading the word. This is my own private blog post, so "official" team thanks come from elsewhere, but I have to say a huge personal thank you to the individuals: Peter Cowley, Chris Lamaison, Allan Maclean and Shai Vyakarnam of our Advisory Board, who magnified our vision; the Idea Transform Mentors (too numerous to name, but heroes of the weekend); the corporate sponsors and supporters who made it possible to run a long weekend event in the middle of Cambridge yet keep the ticket price well below £100.

But all we created together was a context. From 5:30pm on Friday, 20 April until 51 hours later, together we provided a place where it would be possible for other people to come together, bring ideas, experience, talents and aspirations and form teams working together to make a definite difference in the world. And that really was an act of co-creation.

Like anything creative, there was friction as well as harmony. I'm a veteran of quite a few similar events, and I'm always disappointed when people sign up, but don't find, join and stick with a team. I remember an event a couple of years ago when someone came with an exciting vision, but every detail was non-negotiable. Frustrated when people didn't flock to join a team and become a free workforce, contributing nothing but work, receiving nothing but instruction, that person went away with a face like thunder. They would have got so much by staying, and either allowing the idea to be improved by sharing it with others, or by joining a team working on something completely different and building new knowledge and relationships.

Can you, truly, change the world in a weekend spent working together? Maybe not. But I believe you can change lots of things. Your own perspective, for a start. So many of the people I met wanted to change lives, and wanted to learn how. Whether the idea their team was working on will progress in its present form, who can say? From the feedback I've had already, each team built up a much clearer picture of how to validate that the problem they are working on is genuine, that the possible solution they have identified is valuable, and that they can make a step, then another, then another along that road. That may be a few days of work, but it may also be months, years or even decades.

So not every idea, not every team will continue in its present form. But the relationships, the experiences, the feeling of what happens when beautifully simple ideas meet the mess of reality - all those will persist.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that we have, as we wanted, helped at least one world-changing idea to make a decisive step forward.

For a few hours, people came together and suspended disbelief about all the impossibilities of life. We met as equals, co-workers, co-creators. And maybe, just maybe, millions of lives may be changed for the better by ideas transformed by encounters, transformed into works in progress.

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It's great to get comments - a good way to encourage, challenge and help me! Thank you. Jeremy