WEEK FOUR: 30/03 – 03/04
Early on in the project, an expert came in to talk to us about social enterprise. She informed us that at certain points during any start-up a group will experience what is called the ‘groan zone’. For me, the ‘groan zone’ came on the week beginning 30th March 2015. The honeymoon stage of the project was over and it was time to make the transition from the planning stage to the doing stage. There seemed to be an overwhelming amount of tasks that needed to be undertaken and it didn’t help that a lot of the team were off sick.
Thankfully, one good decision we had made previously was to separate all the many tasks into different categories, with each category overseen by one or two people. These categories and their respective overseers were the following: PR/Marketing(May and Jacob); Shop Design/Build (Dom and Zoltan); Engagement/Events (Biz);Systems/Finance (Maija); Brand/Logo (also Maija); Items/Volunteers (me); andProject Manager (Charley). The last role turned out to be crucial. It was so important to have a project manager monitoring the progress of each area, holding daily meetings and having an overarching view of the whole project. Charley integrated well into the democratic nature of the group, acting as a coordinator rather than a ‘boss’. As a whole this system worked smoothly, with the different work teams and the project manager seamlessly interweaving with each other.
My three highlights of the week were 1) the decision to name the shop SHARE: A Library of Things, 2) staying at the shop till 10pm on Wednesday to create an intrigue banner, which was particularly enjoyable because it showed us coming together out of a sense of enthusiasm for the project, rather than out of a grudging sense of obligation, and 3) April Fools Day, where we covered the floor of the Hub in hundreds of post-it notes, as a tribute to our dear course facilitator, Johannes, known for his tendency to incorporate post-it notes into every stage of the business planning process!
In regard to the smaller teams, Dom and Zoltan spent the week brainstorming ideas for the design of the shop, collecting images from Pinterest and creating a list of all the materials that would be needed for the shop build. May created a timeline for the PR/Marketing campaign, finalised SHARE’s key messaging and wrote a press release. Biz went to events like the ‘Money Matters’ event at the Cheese and Grain, Maija made a draft of the financial policy and I finalised a mail-out asking if people would be prepared to donate items to SHARE.
Despite all the progress described above (and perhaps we were too quick to forget our achievements), the group found the week challenging through being so thinly spread at times. At one point four people out of eight were off sick. The good news is that all the frustration brewing in the group was voiced at the weekly process meeting on Thursday afternoon. Some felt that there hadn’t been clear enough communication as to what the tasks were and who was doing what, and there was a general consensus that there needed to be a better planning meeting on Monday morning. I think this process meeting reaffirmed group unity, and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt this week, it’s that creating a sense of wellbeing in the group is perhaps more important than getting on with the tasks.