I had the pleasure again to be head tutor of the Lab with Jonas Klevhag from Teknopol (SE) which included designing the overall master plan for the SWIM Lab and at the same time facilitating the activities during the day and working in-depth with the projects.
No problem sleeping at night on a week like this!!
Focus of the first SWIM Lab was to:
- define the core of each project
- define the (customer, audience) need that each project addresses,
- research on a need for the project among customer/audience groups
- test the need and the core of the project for a real audience in the form of a pitch
- iterate the concept and define creative and commercial goals for the next 6 months.
- create a network between the participating trans media entrepreneurs,
Kicking off with 10 NABC’s
At the SWIM Kick off in April the participants were introduced to the NABC pitching model and asked to prepare one for their project for the first SWIM Lab. The first couple of hours was spent on all project introducing themselves through the NABC perspective and giving notes to each.
This was followed by an exercise with reflection and sharing of personal motivations, desired achievements for the project and metrics to measure progress towards that goal.
- What is your personal and/or team reasons for doing your project?
- What would be a great long term achievement for the project?
- What is a good metric for progress towards that vision?
Defining the core of each project was approached from two angles:
- A creative angle (what’s the core experience) working with user centered design methods like personas and scenarios, empathy maps and user journeys, (headed by Asta Wellejus and Jason DaPonte) and
- A commercial angle (who needs this experience and wants to pay for it) working with Lean start up methods like Minimum Viable Product, easy-to-use prototyping tools in order to have something to test from the beginning.
For inspiration for both Social Impact projects and Commercial projects we had engaged two experts to give a talk and work with the teams afterwards:
The pitfall of defining the need for a product or project is for it to become a very hypothetical exercise without real data to validate the need. To make a point of this, we had designed an outdoor exercise in the streets of Helsingborg where the participants were to observe and interview a number of people about a relevant need in relation to their project.
To be honest we faced massive resistance with this exercise to start with, since most creative professionals don’t want to expose the concept before it has reached a certain level of production quality and craftsmanship. However, most of the entrepreneurs came back from 2 hours of ‘guerrilla ethnography‘ with something valuable that either called for a change in the project or validated the type of experience and/or service they were already aiming for.
Testing by pitching
On Lab day 4 (out of 5) the participants were asked to prepare a revised and refined 5 minute NABC-pitch of the project as it looked at that point. 15 media interested people from Helsingborg were invited to be audience and feedback panel.
I moderated the session and tried to focus on exploring how the need and the core experience worked with the audience and what improvements or changes they could think of to make it even more appealing or what other needs could be worked into the project.
Creating a new network
Addressing this focus point we had designed several psychical exercises and icebreaker assignments during the week, for example picking a secret ‘SWIM Buddy’ on day 1 and giving little gifts or surprises during the week without revealing your identity. When dealing with professional storytellers this was pretty much a walk in the park for us as facilitators with the multiple layers of counter-counter-surprise-scams and alliances that formed to pull off the most amazing surprises without the Buddy knowing who was behind all the goodness.
The climax occurred at the final dinner on day 4 when all participants – one after another – revealed the true identities of their SWIM buddy. Tears were shed – either from laughing hard or crying from emotional overwhelming of being secretly appreciated for a whole week.
Iterating the project and setting goals
Wrapping up on day 5 we started the day in small groups of 2-3 projects by giving peer-to-peer notes based on the pitch from the day before. We also introduced how to make a funding forecast and a trans media treatment where story-thinking meets platform-thinking.
This was followed by individual project work with revision of the key metrics to measure progress, revision of short and long term goals and setting 3 milestones one month ahead (due at the first mentor session with Jonas and I).
In other words – the projects were to formulate the first work plan for the project in order to move it from idea to realization or from being a pure film project to become of a trans media project.
We ended the SWIM Lab I with an exercise in strategic network mapping. All projects should map their existing network and contacts according to the revised goals and work plan and present an overview of it en plenum.
Then everybody were to browse around the 10 posters and add new contacts to each other’s network and thereby expanding the potential horizon for each project. A true crowd sourcing take away to end SWIM Lab I.