STUDY VISIT III: ‘COLLAB&COUCH’

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“It’s great to have all sort of disciplines together and to see how they interact on the same projects.” – Collab&Couch Founders

Colab&Couch is a Co-working space in Dresden where Start-ups and Freelancers rent a desk and thus own an affordable office. It is open 24/7 and has been active for about a year. It offers two opportunities for people interested to rent a desk: Flex and Fix.

With Flex, one doesn’t rent the desk, just its usage. It operates on a first come, first serve basis and one can’t leave one’s stuff on the desks overnight. Fix demands a somewhat higher price for a fixed desk and higher internet speed. The Fixed places cover the general expenses of the space and any extra money gets reinvested in the space with personal financing happening only through private projects.

Speaking of re-investment, they have commandeered the ‘Feedback board’ method: Everyone is allowed to post what they perceive as ‘Correction Points’-things that can/need be improved upon. These ‘Correction Points’ get to be voted on by everyone and thus the highest priority (of things to be fixed or improved) is clear.

Aside from all that, they offer ‘Masterminds’. Masterminds is an open event where anyone can bring in an idea and everyone tells them what they think about it or how they would approach it. Furthermore, they offer some educational events and also Office Yoga every week to their members!

When asked about their advertising campaign, they replied simply with “Mouse-to-Mouse advertisements”. …It apparently can be that easy on occasion!

If you want to find more about them, check their website: www.collabandcouch.de

by Artemis Nikolaidou-Vichou

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STUDY VISIT II: ‘GRÜNDER GARTEN’

Gründer Garten, our second Study Visit, is housed in the same building as our first Study Visit, ‘Was hab’ ich?’ It is a student initiative with about 50 members. It is a place where one can pursue one’s own ideas through Workshops, Start-ups’ tours and Networking events.

Their plans for the future include growing bigger, getting more (active) members and thus becoming self-sustainable and they hope that in the future they will flourish to be the ‘Go-To’ place for students for advice on their own projects and further. So far they have instead been facing problems with the fact that students come and go and thus not remain active and also with the fact that students have to sit exams, limiting them in the time they wish to invest to such a venture.

Their advertising is done so far mainly through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, they have a Newsletter and they always introduce themselves at the beginning of each Semester through short lectures.

For more information, feel free to check their website: www.gruendergarten.de

by Artemis Nikolaidou-Vichou

STUDY VISIT I: ‘WAS HAB’ ICH?’

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“Start-ups have to learn by doing and improve by doing.” ~’Was hab’ ich’

After extensive learning on the fields of Project Planning, everyone was more than ready for a little immersion into the world of creative industries. Our first ever Study Visit took us to an unexpected destination: a medical company! ‘Was hab’ ich’ started as a student initiative where students of medicine ‘translated’ doctors’ notes for patients and now is a fully functioning company.

The basis behind the creation of the original idea was simple: “What do people without someone studying Medicine do when they get a doctor’s note? Who explains it to them?” Thus, in but 4 four days from idea to release, the original platform was born and through it became a grandiose need apparent: People wanted someone to explain all the abnormal ‘Examination Language’ to them. And that is exactly what ‘Was hab’ ich’ does, albeit only in German.

Its workforce is comprised of students that through translating the notes into ‘normal German’ practice and polish their communication skills for later. Further benefits include the fact that students also have to dig deep in order to explain things easily, thus they expand their actual knowledge, not only their communication skills. They work for free and offer their services through the website, which also contains explanations about the different examinations that can take place at a hospital. A reply takes from 2 days to 1 week to arrive and normally contains info about the terminology used and what impact it has to the person, and sometimes a photo for clarification.

In order to avoid Data Protection Infringement anybody that wishes to use ‘Was hab’ ich’ needs to take out any personal information from the reports (eg. Name of patient / doctor, date of birth, etc.) before sending them. The only information that is necessary is the year of birth and the sex of the patient. After that, the company adheres strongly to a code of Neutrality, Responsability (this is not a typo) and Understandability.

Neutrality: They only translate the texts. No advice is ever given.

Responsability: They are overly mindful of the phrasing of their responses. Such sentences as: “This commonly leads to cancer”, for example, are strictly forbidden.

Understandability: They keep the sentences short and simple so that even people that are not highly educated or do not speak German as a first language can understand.

Their motto of “Bring doctors and patients at eye level” has worked well for them so far. They have educated more than 1,300 students and are still going strong with a permanent team of 3 doctors, 1 IT guy and 1 Communications guy.

by Artemis Nikolaidou-Vichou

STAKEHOLDER MAPPING AND THE PROJECT PLAN

Stakeholders can be defined as Persons, Groups, Companies, NPOs/NGOs or (Governmental) Institutions. In general, anybody that can influence one’s Projects for better or for worse because they can promote, support weaken or attack one or one’s Projects.

Some stakeholders have to be managed closely. Some stakeholders have to be kept informed, while others need only be monitored. Each stakeholder has to be dealt with differently depending on their Power and Interest.

 

High Power

Low Interest

Keep Satisfied

(KS)

Manage Closely

(MC)

High Interest

Monitor

(MO)

Keep Informed

(KI)

Low Power

 

After the short introduction come to the topic came the exercise: Each group had to create a list of their own possible stakeholders within 25 minutes! Then, the whole group bar one person had to change seats and go to one of the other groups. The ones that stayed from each group had to explain to the newcomers their idea and give them the run-down of the stakeholders they have so far identified. For their part, the ones that moved had to listen and propose further possible stakeholders.

After this exercise everyone sat back with their groups and settled into making a proper Project Plan, writing down their focused plans and being aware of the powers that can influence their Projects. But a proper Project Plan is extensive. Thus, every group needed to include the following information:

  • Title of Project
  • A sub-Project
  • Goal objectives
  • Success Factors.
  • Numbers (e.g. number of employees).
  • Timeline
  • Who does what?
  • Experts?
  • Users? / Customers?
  • Resources?

Extensive though as the list may be, everyone dealt with the task with a lot of energy as today we also had our first Study Visits. But more on that on the next post!

by Artemis Nikolaidou-Vichou

PINK GLASSES, BLACK GLASSES AND THE WORLD’S END.

Step 1: Think up the best positive and the worse negative escalation of your Project – only 3 ideas per group and per escalation!

Step 2: Take the outcomes and escalate them further

Step 3: Repeat from Step 2 (worst/best case scenario)

 

For this exercise every Group had to take their projects and let them escalate; positively and negatively! The Pinkcasting technique defines the most positive possibility for the project while the Blackacsting technique is just the opposite –the worst possible escalation of it. Following these three steps everyone came face to face with the best and worse scenarios of their ideas.

The teams that bravely faced this challenge were the following”

‘Champagne’ – Food’s Airbnb

‘Caracola’ – Re-use of abandoned buildings

‘Shared Space’ – Social off- and on-line community (part of the ‘Freespaces’ group)

‘Freespaces’ – On- and off-line platform for ideas

‘Leftovers’ – Flexiroot Brand: Varied uses for wood (e.g. Purses)

While everyone came up with their own best and worst case scenarios, there were some that really deserved a medal for innovation. Thus, I proudly present to you the Best Worst Case Scenarios!!

  • “Robots take-over!”
  • “Everybody dies.”
  • “Biological warfare!”
  • “We become money launderers…”

by Artemis Nikolaidou-Vichou

THE SWOT ANALYSIS, THE KNOWLEDGE MATRIX AND THE BLACK SWAN

Following the previous evening’s homework, everybody got together into 4 groups where they chose to either work on an existing Project of their own, an existing Project of someone else or on an entirely new Project created on the spot with their partners. They were given 10 minutes to decide what each group’s Project was going to be and to give it a name. The names that came up were:

  • Leftovers – Innovative uses of wood
  • Champagne – AirBnB for Food
  • Caracola – Reuse of abandoned buildings
  • Free Spaces – On and off line artists platform

SWOT Analysis

After introducing their Projects, our participants got introduced to SWOT Analysis. SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis is a Strategy Planning Instrument that represents the position analysis of one’s own activities against those of one’s competition.

 

Strengths Weaknesses Internal
Opportunities Threats External

 

Knowledge Matrix

Learning about SWOT Analysis means learning in consequence about the world of the Knowledge Matrix. The Knowledge Matrix is a tool aimed at enhancing stakeholder value, improve the operations and address performance and risk related challenges of an organisation. It is considered more inclusive than the SWOT Analysis technique and thus more widely used.

Known Knowns Known Unknowns
Unknown Knowns Unknown Unknowns

(Black Swan)

 

Each group had 30 minutes to fill out their respective Knowledge Matrix as best they could before being educated in dealing with the Unknown Unknowns.

Unknown Unknowns:

When dealing with Unknown Unknowns there is only two ways to go about it, Forecasting or Backcasting. Forecasting relies on what is known today, as incomplete and unstable that piece of information is, and works solely by small steps. Backcasting works by imagining the coveted future outcome and then ask the question: “What do we need to do today to reach that vision of success?”

by Artemis Nikolaidou-Vichou