An Island of Assets

At the start of the programme in our very first sessions with the groups we did the Island Challenge borrowed from the people at Up Your Creative Genius.  A typical Island Challenge would involve us standing in front of the group, pen in hand, writing on he board as they call out what the group’s asset are, where they want to be in the near future and the challenges that hold them back from getting there. Then we represent this visually (see below)

The aim of this task is to twofold. One, to understand more about the groups and their ambitions. Two, to make the point that there are many problems that you can solve using your current assets.

Assets such as computers, mobile phones, a few domestic animals and various kinds of diplomas held are all likely to appear on the lists of most groups. At the end of each session we noted down what they had listed, confident that it was a full document, and took it away for future reference.

However, it was only recently towards the end of the programme that we started finding many more assets and skills within our group members which were not initially listed.

For instance;

– 3 members of Exodus group never told us about their previous experience as part time workers in a tomato crates business.

– Josephina and Alexis from Tumsifu did not tell anything about the 200 chickens they had kept in the past.

In one sense, the aim of the Island task was achieved as we successfully developed the idea that business start-ups often should be based on your own assets. I wonder, though, why these groups did not tell us many of their most important assets in the first session, and more importantly, is there anything we could have done about it to get them to think in that direction earlier than they did?

The first thing that comes into my head is that in the first session the group members were not feeling confident enough to talk in front of everyone else about their assets. To tackle this I know that some other Fellows constructed the Island Challenge by asking the group to list their assets individually or in pairs. I wonder, whether they gained much better results?

Vicki suggested that it might be useful to do the Island Challenge again over the third week. I now totally understand why.

The Island Challenge, which initially did not seem to be a key part of the curriculum, is perhaps the most important bit of it all, because it gets members of the groups generating feasible business ideas early enough so there is enough time left to test and refine these ideas. And equally importantly, it gives us a better idea of what is feasible and what is not!

If I was to start again I would spend much more time introducing the Island Challenge ensuring the aim of the task is perfectly clear to each and every member. And perhaps I wouldn’t open up, first thing in the first session, with this task.