Musings from the 2nd Day
Culture Shift Nigeria
Andy Young and Kelly Clark on…The ART of Supporting Innovation
Kelly: Yesterday was an intense day here at the CCHUB. It was hot, creative and the hub was fully loaded with aspiring entrepreneurs, which made for a great deal of energy and, occasionally, the need for an escape to the open grassy roof for a bit of perspective and air to breath.
Andy: Glen and Femi introduced the hackathon, team leaders pitched their theme, and the remaining group – a mixture of creative talents – joined the team leader with the idea that most grabbed their attention.
The result was six teams; each with their own theme built around a problem a festival manager in Nigeria might experience. From here they began working together to overcome their challenge.
Kelly: When I arrived the workshop was already in full swing. Laptops were all open, teams were huddled in working groups and empty water bottles and sheets of paper illustrating the creative journey littered the tables and floor. I joined Glen, Femi and Andy who were conducting the first of the six “Board Meetings,” -mid day sessions in which we interact with a group to see how they are doing and if they need some direction or encouragement. The question, “what is the one simple problem you are trying to solve?” was the starting point for the session. For some, getting to simple proved anything but…
Andy: Working in a group is difficult at the best of times. Working in a group over the course of a weekend to design, code, prototype, and present your idea is even harder. Throw in 10 strong minded, enthusiastic and driven individuals, all of whom were strangers until yesterday, and you begin to get a picture of the challenges that arise in trying to come to a coherent, united answer to our question. There was another hurdle, obviously. Four (equally enthusiastic) board members enquiring further…
Kelly: And here in lies a powerful dynamic and in one in which we realize upon reflection requires some delicacy and restraint on our part. The teams are in full flow, identifying solutions, drawing diagrams, logos, and in some cases, elaborate new platforms. Marketing speak is plentiful but the focus needed to answer questions like, “Why is this a problem?” and “How is your solution going to solve it?” The HOW and the WHY is where innovation lies…where creativity meets development…and holding space for these questions is our job. Encouraging the teams to get to these answers through their own collaborative dialogue is crucial and often, messy and frustrating.
However, particularly towards the end of the day, the four of us have moments of slipping away from asking questions to giving “suggestions” or opinions and what we find is that because the teams are keen to take our advice we have to be careful of not giving 4 slightly different messages and/or of affecting the innovative process through our suggestions.
Andy: And therein lies our challenge for the weekend; how do we cultivate innovation, support, and steer the groups towards developing investment ready solutions without influencing their creative process?