I seem to have been a bit quiet on this blog, while I have been doing other things, including pushing Progress School along, working on Collaborate Leeds and incubating a new idea which has finally found the light of day today:
The Leeds Community Enterprise Accelerator or Elsie for short. This provides a community based network of support to local enterprise coaches, advisors, facilitators, in fact to anyone who is helping someone else in the community to make progress.
I have high hopes for Elsie in post Business Link austerity economy. I think it will provide a sustainable high value model to provide practical crowd sourced enterprise support to those that most want and need it.
Have a look at Elsie and tell me what you think.
I went to a very wonderful opening for Dock Street Market last Friday. It used to be a decent enough shop that had many fans and reportedly turned over a million a year. But still it could not survive.
Now the shop has been taken over by a number of local artisan producers and entrepreneurs, all of whom offer a phenomenal product. We have fish and chips reinvented by the wonderful Fish &, excellent north Italian coffee and more from Bottega Milanese, superb breads from the Riverside Sourdough Bakery and more. The people behind these businesses are phenomenally hard working and focussed on quality, service and value. They are doing their bit to make the collaborative project a success.
But my interest is in the role of the rest of us. The fine citizens of Leeds. Of the 700 000 plus people that live in the city, my guess is that the vast majority will not even know that the Dock St Market exists. They are ‘strangers’ to the market. Perhaps 10 ooo or so are aware of the market and certainly a couple of hundred rocked up at the opening last week. These constitute ‘prospects’. People who know the market exists and may become customers.
But customers so far, by definition, are a smaller group. Having only just opened not many of us have had the chance to spend our cash in Dock Street Market yet….
A large part of the success of the market will depend on the rate at which strangers are turned in to prospects, prospects are turned into customers, and customers are turned into loyal supporters of the brand.
Historically this process of marketing and sales would be down to the entrepreneurs. This is their job. But I am interested in the role of the rest of us. Those who are already prospects and customers, and our ability to help in the sales and marketing process. Our power to influence others to check out and support the development of the great independent traders in Dock Street Market.
Because the ability of a community to support great business is perhaps as important in developing an enterprise culture as the development of the entrepreneur.
Social media has amplified the voice of the prospect and the customer. It can help to reach the strangers. As can word of mouth strategies based on good quality referrals and introductions.
So of course let us keep giving the entrepreneurs the training and skills that they need. But let us also consider how we can equip the rest of us to properly support businesses in our community.
Good luck to all behind the Dock St Market venture. And let’s see just how much the rest of us can do to really support the kind of independent, artisan based businesses that many of us say we want to see thriving in Leeds.
You can find Dock St just south of the river. It is well worth checking out!
“What we did establish is that the carrots offered were far less effective than the sticks employed.”
Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts – talking about the ‘limited effect’ of Pathways to Work pilots
Sticks and carrots have a long and noble tradition in the management of donkeys. However even with donkeys there are times when the ‘bribe and punish’ approach to change management fails:
- When the donkey is not hungry enough
- When the effort of reaching the carrot is too great (the burden is too heavy)
In these circumstances we may choose to resort to the stick. But this too will not work if:
- the pain of the stick is thought to be less than the pain of moving forward
- the donkey learns to like the stick and the attention that it brings
But I think the real issue here is not about the limitations of sticks and carrots in the management of donkeys and people.
It is about the complete and utter failure to understand the nature of human motivation. Motivation is that which energises, directs and sustains a person’s efforts. Sustains efforts. Sticks and carrots applied to move a donkey from one (expensive) field to another (less expensive field) do NOTHING to sustain efforts. In fact it is likely to achieve the opposite. The donkey returns to its passive state until more carrots and sticks appear on the scene. And the state wants more enterprising communities?
But the major problem is not treating people like donkeys, and further dulling their enterprising souls. It is that the state believes that this is the most effective, fair and just way of changing behaviour. That this is such a common default setting when trying to manipulate the behaviours and choices of its citizens.
And we wonder why ‘community engagement’ is so difficult. When you have beaten and bribed your donkeys into submission don’t expect them to engage with you, without the use of ever more sticks and carrots.
Perhaps instead of resorting to a coercive approach to change, we might try instead a coaching approach?
Helping people to recognise their long term self interest and how it may be pursued. Helping them to develop the power they need to make progress in their lives. Helping them to recognise that it is possible and that they don’t need to be pushed around by a bureaucratic system of sticks and carrots. That THEY have choices and agency in their own lives. Vegetable wielding bureaucrats do not have to be the architects of their future.
And what if someone decides that their long-term self interest is served by staying exactly where they are?
Well, we could just leave them alone and put our time, energy and investment into those that want to explore pastures new. Why should the squeaky wheel get all the grease?
Because perhaps people are more like sheep than donkeys. When they see some of the flock moving forward others are sure to follow.
Date: Wednesday 21 July
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Venue: 51b Holme Bank Mills, Station Road, Mirfield, WF14 8NA
(From Mirfield go under the bridge for Mirfield railway station and turn left following the road with the large sign for James Walker Properties.
From Hopton turn right just before the Mirfield railway station bridge and following the road with the large sign for James Walker Properties).
Creative Connections are quarterly events for artists and creative businesses in and around North Kirklees, run by Loca as part of its Creative Business Support Programme.
As well as encouraging the development of a supportive and well connected community of creative people within North Kirklees we are also encouraging people to look at their businesses more professionally and with more of a critical eye. With this in mind we have a very motivational and thought provoking presentation to offer to you.
Mike Chitty is a writer, trainer, coach and adviser on enterprise and entrepreneurship. Despite having a background in physics his work strikes a chord with creative people and artists of all kinds. In this 30 minute session Mike will provide a fast paced, honest and highly practical introduction to The Entrepreneur’s Workshop and introduce us to 10 powerful tools that can help us make sure that our creative enterprises serve us rather than the other way round.
As an extra bonus, we are holding the evening’s event at the new studio of Andrew Warburton, Area Rugs and Carpets where you be able to view inspirational work by Andrew, Dylan Edwards and Amazed Rugs. Andrew will once again demonstrate the production methods he uses to create his bespoke, high quality rugs and there will be the opportunity to have a go for the more adventurous among you.
Creative Connections is a chance to meet informally with other creative people to pick up ideas, information and contacts which may be useful in your work. It’s also a great opportunity to promote your own work and what’s going on creatively in the local area, so please do use it as a platform to let people know about events or projects that you are involved in, or to sound out interest in an idea you’re developing, or to request information. Why not bring along your portfolio, brochures or other visual material to show your work to others and help develop your contacts?
The Loca team looks forward to seeing you at Creative Connections. Please contact us if you have any particular access needs.
Please park in the free car park. Andrews studio is under the barriers to the right. There are three small steps up to the workshop with handrails.
The evening is free and light refreshments will be provided.
RSVP to Loca on 01924 488844 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org