Play Bigger - What I learned about venture design in Ibiza
I wasn’t there to party in my tiny white shorts though!
Pikes played host to the Dot Dot Dot ‘anti-conference’, brainchild of the human dynamo that is Jack Horner (of FRUKT fame).
He invited an A-list of the most inspiring, rule-breaking, getting-shit-done visionaries and world changers (and me 😉) to hack for a few days to venture design and support worthy causes.
The question we were all there to help answer was; “How do we look at causes more holistically and design them as a sustainable businesses with as much impact as possible?”
No-one knew what to expect but it was a special experience, and the best kind of hard work.
For one thing, it really brought home how energy draining thinking is. If there are such things as ‘brain calories’, I definitely burned a good few.
This wasn’t your typical hackathon event - these were profound problems and massive challenges we were trying to solve.
As an aside, you’ll notice that Dot Dot Dot is virtually un-googleable. Yep, that’s not an accident .
The intentional intimacy of the event meant that from the start, we were all having deep, meaningful (and not just the late-night gin-fuelled kind) conversations.
The organisations left with a growth plan to have more impact, more engagement, create sustainable scalability and some solid KPIs to measure.
And I left having made deep connections with inspiring, brilliant minds with a shared value system but very different perspectives.
#1 Trew Fields - Changing The Way We Approach Cancer
Sophie Trew is a cancer survivor, diagnosed aged only 23, with an amazing, moving personal story.
She’s now 27, and along with colleague Will, runs the UK’s first holistic health and cancer awareness festival, Trew Fields.
‘Awareness’ is misleading though.
What Sophie aims to do is re-frame the current aggressive mainstream narrative around cancer, with its focus on ‘beating’ illness and a ‘war on cancer’, and to focus instead on proactivity and positivity.
450 people attended the first festival in 2017, 550 attended the second this year, and so the first question now for Sophie and Will is how to take this very special thing they’ve created forward to a) a larger capacity and b) a wider online community.
The secondary challenge for the pair is to ensure the festival is properly grounded, and that it doesn’t ever feel like just a bunch of millennial hippies having a party.
We talked a lot about the value proposition of the Trew Fields brand, this positive take on cancer, and came up with the phrase ‘learn to live’ as a perfect positioning statement for the inclusive nature of the festival.
Over the course of two sessions in small groups we were able to map out a marketing strategy based upon that broad idea of ‘learning to live,’ with Sophie’s story itself as the clearest way of communicating what she is doing.
Given that modern figures state that one in two of us are now going to suffer from cancer, 100% of us are the audience for the Trew Fields community.
#2 Hope and Homes - Changing the Perception of Orphanages
When you think of ‘an orphan’, you probably think of a child who has lost both of their parents, right?
Shockingly, however, over 80% of children in orphanages have at least one living parent who simply cannot afford to look after them, as Ben Knowles, Innovation and Transformation Director at Hope and Homes explained to us.
This leaves them confined to soulless places without love, vulnerable to exploitation and sex trafficking.
The challenge facing Hope and Homes is overcoming the deep-rooted perception (aided by celebrities, gap year students and other would-be worthy individuals who visit and/or contribute financially to them) that orphanages are a good thing.
We were able to achieve crystal clarity with Ben that shifting this belief will involve having the dictionary definition of orphanage changed for good.
Only then will there be the action needed to stop money that could be re-routed into keeping families together, and giving children the vital love they need.
#3 B-CORP- Changing the way business operates
When a limited company is incorporated, a set of ‘articles of association’ are created, to act as the rules the business will operate by.
According to these, the sole purpose of a business is to make a profit for its shareholders.
However, B Corporations are a new kind of business that balance purpose and profit.
They’re required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment, to join a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
So there’s a change proposed to the way businesses of all sizes behave, trying to shift responsibility from making money for shareholders to having more positive impact on the community and environment.
And it’s not about ‘giving to causes’ as a PR stunt, or because corporate social responsibility is demanded of them it’s about business performance, based on metrics and integrity.
The key question was how to position B Corps so that their value was immediately recognisable to the public, and to make clear that being part of the movement is not a rubber stamp, but a continual health check on business.
I came away with a lot to think about. Two words stuck firmly in my mind.
If you’re going to create things of real value then you need to play bigger, not get stuck in the weeds, and definitely not embroiled in politics.
It’s something that happens naturally when you focus on your own life, on running a business and all the usual everyday activities that go with it.
We're all guilty of getting caught up in the here and now, when really we need to be thinking ahead and thinking bigger.
The biggest gift Dot Dot Dot gave me was to lift me out of the everyday, to change the way I absorb information thanks to my connection with these causes, and to push me to keep playing bigger.