Reflecting on activating a Smart city.
Last week we held the 100th event under my day job as manager of the city-wide activation programme Collider.
Each activation has been an opportunity to learn, explore plus move closer to a concept of how best serve the digital, creative and technological ecosystem and transform the city into a Smart capital.
This three year (Wellington City Council funded and BizDojo delivered) programme, is a bold attempt at raising the capability of a region.
As we near the end of the first year the time to reflect seems appropriate and here are some learnings:
- variety is key—the usual sage-on-the-stage presentations is now mixed with seminars, workshops, masterclasses, roundtables, one-to-ones, mentoring etc, ensuring all tastes and learning styles are catered for. It’s also a trial of see what fits and sticks, plus what formats can be morphed and realigned with others;
- reframing was important—originally, many were describing the piece of work as an umbrella although the quick reframe as a scaffold (supporting existing good projects and initiatives whilst filling in the gaps to create a broad foundation) made it more accessible. It was also gentler as there’s a huge amount of good work in the city and moving forward with humility has been crucial;
- trying is better than not—as you can read from some of the highlighted choices in this blog post review, there’s been some fun goes at changing the offer. Merging disciplines and styles is always a step into the unknown although excited we had the opportunity to try;
- capacity is the biggest issue—a four-day-a-week (which is what I negotiated before I start to ensure I can still produce the most creative TEDx event in the world), does not leave a lot of time other than nailing KPI’s (which we are with a little added on top). Reflection is still needed although the accepted transition into a more quality-versus-quantity mode has ignited the creative possibilities;
- hidden impact—the softer side of running an activation programme is in the connections made, the conversations had, the thoughts sparked, the ideas inspired etc. The stuff incredibly hard to monitor or track, however, can be found in the stories shared back and the side chats had. It’s the fabric which builds communities of practice and the stuff which amplifies opportunities.
Here’s the next 100 and year two with an emphasis on audacious activations which make the world take notice.