Learning from each other - a self-help group

Conversations with fellow scholars are so valuable. How can we continue them?

-2 Submitted by Pamela McLean
Festival of Amazing Outcomes
Suggest a session you’d like to run at the Festival of Amazing Outcomes!

There is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom amongst the “launch-padders” (I mean the scholars, the launchpad team, people in our wider networks, and everyone at the unconference).

We’re looking at inter-related issues from a wonderful range of perspectives. We all bring our own stories and experiences of recognising problems or needs and trying to address them. The fascination and value of those stories isn't just "what" we're doing (the outcomes or services that interest us) but "how" we’re doing it (our steep learning curves, the processes we go through, the blind alleys we’ve been down, the short cuts we’ve discovered, barriers impossible to climb over, sources of help, the systems we‘ve developed to help us be effective innovators, etc).

I find that having conversations with fellow launch-padders, can be a rich learning experience - a mixture of information exchange, insights and knowledge creation. Let’s explore how we can continue to talk and learn from each other.

  • Richard Brownsdon
    07 Jan at 10:51

    You are right Pamela,

    So many great connections have been made during the Scholarship.

    We've become a strong group that has met, mix learned, taught, and collaborated on projects together.

    How are we all going to continue this community after the official Scholarship events come to end?

    Let's use some time at the Unconference to come together, and think about how we can continue to build on the momentum started with the Scholarship.

  • Pamela McLean
    08 Jan at 13:53

    Thank you for your positive response Richard

    I suggested the Learning From Each Other session because, as a scholar, I recognise the value of continuing to be part of the Launchpad community. For me it's a kind of learning community, characterised by ideas, practical action, learning-by-doing, and people sharing what they are learning with each other. In some other contexts I suppose that would be called research and development.

    As a scholar who has failed to make it onto the accelerator I feared losing contact and I wanted to use the unconference opportunity to explore ways for continuing connections.

    I was assuming that we (scholars who were not included on the accelerator) would be expected to go on our separate ways at the end of the scholarship. I thought the launchpad team would be putting all your effort into supporting those who got onto the accelerator.

    It was a stupid assumption on my part (and, thinking about it, I remember Marc was saying at the Christmas party that you want us to stay in contact).

    From a blinkered personal viewpoint I'm well aware of the potential value of continuing in the launchpad community. I've invested time and effort in starting to get to know fellow scholars, and the team, and discovering shared values and overlapping interests. I don't want to waste that.

    Why didn't I also look at it from your viewpoint and realise earlier that Launchpad has also invested in building the community of scholars, and (just like me) values the social capital and all that is likely to emerge if the community is maintained.

    I like analogies, and I'm wondering if this one fits.

    Being part of the scholarship programme is like being a seedling in a seed tray (instead of a self-seeded one going it completely alone). At the end of the scholarship some scholars are selected for the accelerator. That's like seedlings being moved to the hothouse.

    What are the options for the other seedlings? Do they get chucked out because there is no room in the hot house? Not necessarily. That would be a waste of potential. They can be replanted in a less protected and expensive environment. They can grow on in the garden just outside the hothouse, where they have to fight their own battles against inclement weather, but the gardener keeps an eye on them, and tends them now and again, instead of intensively.

    Out in the garden they'll do most of the work of growing on the own, but being close together they'll get cross pollinated, and under the eye of the gardener they'll be in better conditions for growth.

    There will be two good crops in the end. The early one from the hothouse, and the later one from the garden, both well worth the effort of the gardener.

    Is that analogy any help? How well does it fit what other people are thinking, assuming and hoping?

  • Noel Hatch
    13 Jan at 19:21

    That's a great analogy Pam. As I'm typing, I've got these herb growing tins I got for Christmas ;)

    The garden's a great analogy as it needs to be collaborative and takes time, from growing the seeds in the seed, to protecting them in the cold to being able to harvest them!

    Look forward to this session!

  • Claire Ritchie
    18 Jan at 11:48

    It would be a crime to let the network we have created get lost.

  • Pamela McLean
    18 Jan at 13:42

    Thanks for commenting Noel and Claire - and to anyone reading: your comments would be most welcome too.

    Yes, we have something valuable here, and it should not be wasted.

    I'm thinking that we'll want to establish a mix of opportunities for continuing conversations - some face-to-face and some online.

    What are your preferred online channels? Do we know which are best used by others. I guess we should try to keep them all open. Is there anything besides the google group and facebook - oh and #pslaunchpad. I guess they will be continuing after the scholarship ends, for people in the accelerator and for our continuing conversations too.

    Maybe at the session we can find people who are active in those spaces and encourage them to nurture the continuing conversations there.

    We'll also need to find a space and date for a F2F meeting, maybe that is something we can arrange before the unconference is over.

    I think our first face-to -face meeting will probably be an evening, so people with day jobs aren't excluded. We'll probably need something like a mini-unconference format as our first meeting, to maximise our chances of getting to know each other i.e. an opportunity for people to stand up and say what they are doing (current ideas, challenges, opportunities etc) and then cluster around people/themes appropriately to explore in more detail.

    There may be good ideas for how to do that emerging during our Tuesday session.

    I think our continuing conversations will be about walking our talk - they won't just be empty talking-shop conversations. We'll be looking for practical ways to work together and support each other but through more fluid and informal collaborations than those in the incubator, as we don't have the same formal structure and support.

    I imagine that the conversations will help us to be learning-together and learning-by-doing as we try to progress the interests that brought us to launchpad and/or the unconference.

    We may need to check also who will be interested in "nurturing the garden" and who will "want to be planted in it" - hmm.. I think that analogy needs some work.

    I'm reminded of the work of Andrius Kulikauskas and Minciu Sodas (Lithuanian for "Orchard of Thoughts') He "planted" various yahoo groups, each one thinking about a different question and led by a different "thinker". The leaders were usually also members of other groups. Andrius read the posts in all the groups and "cross pollinated them". He encouraged all the groups, and people in the groups, to also "plant" themselves and their ideas in a shared wiki. He also had a chat room where we could meet in real time. The group was scattered across the globe so face-to-face meetings tended to be opportunistic and only involving a small number of people.

    Our garden will look different to Minciu Sodas as we have much more opportunity for Face to Face. But perhaps we will also be growing various trees - various thematic groups. And there will be cross pollination.

    I like the idea of trees rather than flowers. As was said at the launchpad Nesta session on Thursday - "A thousand flowers bloom - but they also wilt and die". In orchards there are a thousand blossoms, and after blossoms comes fruit, and the trees keeps growing, and next year there are more blossoms and fruit.

    We'll need to do some kind of "audit" too, as soon as possible.

    At present we have no resources other than ourselves, and free social media channels. I would guess that many of us who will be interested in the continuing conversations are already stretched by the unpaid work we are putting into the various innovative projects the we want to bring into the continuing conversation.

    How closely can the group that emerges from the unconference group be aligned to the ongoing official launchpad. I hope we will be a close collaboration, not a break away group.

    How do we make this a win-win situation for everyone involved, so that it is sustainable? We are fortunate that we are dealing with ideas and information, not physical "stuff", and therefore as we share we become richer - in ideas, information, insights and new knowledge. But even so there are times when lack of money/physical stuff is an issue. We'd be wise to explore access to those resources as well when we have our first "continuing conversations" conversation.

    Sorry this is a bit long - I was just "thinking aloud" in response to your comments. Sharing thoughts beforehand may help us to make the most of our continuing conversations session.

  • Coral Stanion-Nazeri
    19 Jan at 21:09

    We must build a network of scholars and others to continue what we have started. The recent 'When bees meet trees' research articulates some of this and keeps with some of the gardening theme; I would recommend a read - it articulates just what is being suggested here as missing across large organisations Trees, and small agile innovating individuals and organisations as Bees.

    I look forward to us getting together to discuss how to keep our conversations going :-)

  • Pamela McLean
    19 Jan at 22:56

    Thanks Coral - could you share the link to 'When bees meet trees' research?

  • Noel Hatch
    20 Jan at 20:24

    Owen or Ruth (the authors of Bees meet Trees) will be popping in tomorrow, so do grab them!