Journey to mace.
My Mace journey starts like every story with a beginning, a once upon a time.
‘Once upon time there was a girl named Yvonne who lived in the sleepy town of Mitcham. She had just finished her BA in English literature and wondered what her next steps in life would be. There had been so many options but given the state of the economy, most of these were reduced. She knew she wanted to do something more creative, coming from the regimented style of her English literature degree and also she wanted to expand her mind and meet new people.
It was with this is mind, that she consulted her fairy godmother ‘the prospects.com website’. As a well respected website, it helped her by filing in questionnaires, think about what she wanted to. It was during one of these chats, that she stumbled upon the Creative Economy course at Kingston University.
She was curious. What was this creative economy? It sounded interested and somehow like it was connected to want it was she wanted to do. Her curiosity led her to apply, on the off chance that she might then receive some more information about the course. This is how she found herself on the Mace course and met many interesting characters such as the MACE crew, Passport2, dirty prototyping, design thinking, the importance of communication and her future life.
Her is her story.’
The Mace crew
When I first began the mace course I was still unsure about many things, I did not know exactly what the creative economy was or how I would fit into this club.
The first step of my development, was my induction to the web. Prior to this while I was familiar with the internet, having a Facebook account and various emails address for years, I was reluctant to put my life out of the web. As a writer, my words have always been tightly linked to who I am. The idea of putting them on the web, for free on a blog, was a blockage in my thinking. Pondering over this I came across a blog about writing that had a very clear and unmistakeable message “Hands down, online tools are the fastest and easiest way for unknown writers to begin building an audience, get better at their craft, and network with others who can make a difference in their careers.” This of course makes completely sense and tied in with what we were being told on the course. I was quickly forced to removed, my train of thought that made me unsure of blogging and twitter.
“A new chapter! September 17, 2009 · Leave a Comment
Having received my official welcome email from both WordPress and Twitter, I feel like I have reached a new electronic, digital phase in my world and am ready for it all. Hopefully this will all be as exciting and as fantastic as I would love it all to be!!!!!
This was a little bit daunting at first yet once I had my self setup and had posted my first blog, I found that I had a sense of accomplishment. Being able to have any work published, for a writer is a dream, and moreover having that control over how and when it its published is a major plus. My blog yvonnie.wordpress.com allowed me to do this.
Being on the mace, given that the set-up was a mixture of international students from around the world and people from the UK, was a unique situation that opened my mind and future opportunities. So many of us were similar, in the sense that we had all converged upon Kingston upon Thames to do this course and find out more about the creative economy, yet different in terms of our age, cultural backgrounds, specialisms, home countries and languages.
Wilson Reyes while talking about diversity in business makes the comment that “Employees from diverse backgrounds bring different talents and experiences that can foster new ideas, address changing markets and and add some skills that were not there before.” The same principles come into play with the Mace course, by meeting people that are truly diverse and taking their view points, experiences and perceptives away with me, I feel my own perception of the world and myself has been altered.
The next step within the course was the formation of the business for our projects. While this was the part of the course that had initially grabbed my attention, it was also the part that I was most worried about. Cue flashbacks of team picking within sports and other situations, and ending up with no team. These were all fears that I think everyone had.
Would anyone pick me?
Would I like the people I was with?
A business, what?
Via the speed dating event and self promoting upon twitter, we were all able to find out as much about each other that was possible given the time constraints. From the beginning, there seemed to people that I automatically got on with and others that I believed I would do, given time.
My team passport 2 simply fell together. We started with myself and Gin and soon we were a fully fledged team with Pinar, Seb and Cristina. We spent a lot of time initially getting to know each other via a very informal setting, which often included cupcakes. We wanted to make sure that before we enter into a business fully, we had been developed into a team as opposed to a group. Llya Adler makes this distinction between a group and a team as he see a group as a situation where “Each person performs specific tasks given to them by management, and each person is evaluated according to how well he has done the task at hand. They work as a group, but not as a team. A team is also a collective, but as opposed to a group, decisions are shared, the rules are internally established, and the rewards (or punishments) are shared by all”
I think we achieved this in the beginning and tried to maintain this throughout. Thus all of learnt the value of team work.
Our business was also a success, while we did not make any money, broke even and we were more importantly, able to get our product to a high standard, one that we all feel will suit the business and our target audience. Working with the business I was forced to do tasks that I hadn’t previously tried doing. But as I learnt “flexibility is required when a crisis occurs as they may need to step outside of the normal daily duties to help the organization in a crisis situation.” As the advertising and communication manager, I found myself learning skills to do with advertising and marketing- which I previously had no experience of, very quickly and quite easily. Submerging myself in these environments, it was essentially a life or death situation of the business, so I had to perform. Having acquired them now, I know that they will greatly help my post mace life and open new opportunities for me.
Design thinking in my life
During the course we spoke a lot about design thinking. This was a phrase that I had previously not come across and hence was very interested to see how this would affect me. Design thinking of course led me to falling in love with Tim Brown. Most of what he talks about during the videos on ted and on his blog always strikes a chord with me. It all just seems to make sense but would not be something that I would have out rightly thought.
Talking about divergence and convergence on his blog, he says “The second difference is that design thinking relies on an interplay between analysis and synthesis, breaking problems apart and putting ideas together. Synthesis is hard because we are trying to put things together which are often in tension.” I completely agree with this quote as I think it explains my process. At the beginning of the course and to some degree throughout it, I have never had any trouble picking things apart. Looking over my own work and creative writing I can often tell when things don’t sound right or fit. Yet the most difficult part of this is to come back and correct it.
Similarly, I have always been an ideas person, happy generate as many as possible and throw them out there into the world, yet taking one idea from the many, is a definite struggle. This was an issues that working in a team, I found most people suffer from. The initial stage of ideation is always so much more interesting and pleasant that the justification that is often needed for the later stage. This change in my thinking, since really pushing myself to converge back to one idea, has meant that I have become more efficient. Things get done, in general life and more appropriately in my creative writing.
Another idea that we discussed in class and I blogged on about later was….
My perception of the world was as a validation for whatever I had created. It was a way to make a meaning and use for something, if someone liked what I had written then I gain some joy from that. However, to truly see it as inspiration is a different mindset.
Often I gain ideas for my stories by looking at the people around, watching the news, searching the internet. So I do use the world around me, but mainly for my initial ideation stage. What I thought about after the video and once I had thought over it further at home, was that I don’t use the world to think, what story does the world need. Similar while a product designer might look at the world for materials or to capture how nature does something different, what I understood from the video, was, it was asking you to look at the work and ask what product does it need, rather than come to it with a product in mind.
It all comes down to observation. Something that as time goes on, I find more and more useful, not only for business- to know your customers but also to know the world that your customers and you live in. This is where innovation appears to come from, not simply creating because you can but creating because you should. This not only applies to business but to myself and role as a writer, “Writers also use non-tangible tools like observation and ideas. You need to be aware of your surroundings, recognize and capitalize on ideas, and have the ability to conduct research.” Hence, all the skills I have learnt on the course, in reference to observation, I can use within my writing.
The importance of communication.
The business and any relationship with a group people always has its up and downs, most of the life span of passport2 was an up. We all got on and were happy to be putting our energy into the business. However as time did wear on, the business, our baby began to act in that exact way. It was demanding, it was unruling and didn’t understand that we all had other things to do as well. This was the most trying point of my mace journey and I think different people handled it differently. My reaction, was to be strict, divide my time into chunks of various activities so I could work on the business but not at the loss of any other tasks I had to do.
Our relationships with each other suffered the most at this time, because of a lack of communication. Passport 2 from the beginning was meant to be fun and open company, in google-like manner, where everyone can be heard. So when we reached a problem in the group that came down to the fact that there was no communication from one member. It felt like we had taken a step back. Why did passport 2 who had always tried to appreciate the voice of everyone, have a communication problem. In a situation such as ours everyone suffers because if one person does not feel comfortable voicing their opinions, while negative, to the group or people in question, not only does it creates a situation of awkwardness and mistrusts, but forces everyone to waste time because of fear. “if the issues that warrant negativity are left unaddressed, … the negativity affects your ability to professionally perform your work.”, this was definitely the case and so we all pulled together and attempted to resolve this negativity.
This experience, however negative, prompted us to re-evaluate the way our business worked. We realised we had be too lassiez faire with how things had been run and applied more structure. While we spoke about the issues in our group, it came to my attention just how important confidentially become in business. Often when working in the past I have be asked to sign forms and letters preventing me from disclosing certain information or negatively comment on the business.
Our situation, which was a public display of dissatisfaction of the business and group members, did dent our confidence with other business especially within the class. The power of words, positive or negative has always fascinated me and to see this in motion within our business was interesting. It led me to think about the precision of language and the quote from Edgar Allan Poe “Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” This is a topic which I am exploring within my dissertation, as I think often in communicating and using words, their reality and eventual meaning can sometimes be forgotten.
October 26, 2009 · Leave a Comment
What do you get when cross a group of intelligent and creative people with this….
loads of fun and crazy unrestrained prototypes!!!
This week’s task was to creative as many prototypes for our chosen business idea as possible. So we gathered our supplies, raided our recycling boxes and made magic happen. JumpAr, our team, main focus is guide books. specifically for the Kingston area and as we were still trying to think about what this would mean and would need to have in order to compete with what is already out there in the market.
Everyone seemed to have different ideas of what the guide should be like and it was interesting to have physical replicas of these to insure everyone knew what was meant.
Quick and dirty prototyping
As a creative person at heart, the idea of creating anything sits well with me. In class one of the things that we continuous were encouraged to do, was to prototype everything and anything, quickly and dirtily. This meant that we had to ignore the voice of negativity, what Edward de bono calls the Black hat. “The single word that best describes the nature of the Black Hat is “caution.” If we are not cautious, we risk damage, danger, and disaster both for ourselves and for others. Black Thinking Hat protects us from harm.” While this is useful in a later stage of ideation, q1uick and dirty prototyping taught me to suspense it in favour of pure creation to get as many ideas out as possible.
This skill is particularly useful for business as we found within Passport 2, by simply working with what you have to create something you are provided with either a physical or visual representation of my idea, only then can you examine it fully and communicate the idea. Taking this to my specialism, it means I can write an idea as quickly and a rough as I like, in order to have it more tangible for my own exploration but also to pitch it to people.
Her future self
Being on the mace course has slightly steered my goals and aims for the future. Before I began, I was happy to do anything job that either allow me enough time to pursue my creative writing until I became a world famous author. Now I feel like I am more focused on determined to combine working and earning a living with my writing- as well as pursuing the hopes of a becoming the next JK Rowling.
I now think of myself as aiming for jobs within the field of publishing, theatre but also a completely new one, as a copywriter. Most of these changes have been sparked up by the things I have been learning. Knowing more about the creative industries, means I have more of idea of what is out there and therefore can make an informed decisions as to what I want to do.
My current goal to be achieved within the next years is to be working within the theatre industry. This would ideally be a mid level position within the departments of development- working to produce plays from scripts, using my editorial knowledge. Or working within the marketing department, taking particularly interest in the way the theatre gains audiences as well as potential talent.
The reality of the situation is that the theatre industry is very difficult to break into from an entry position. Furthermore, given the economic climate and that it has not fully recovered or exited the recession, there is a diminished number of such position available to people who lack real experience. Currently while I do possess some experience, it is not specific enough to these goals.
My main obstacles to reach these goals would be the lack of real, relevant experiences. To gain these I would need to take up internship, which there are very few within this industry. Furthermore most of these internships are full time and pay expenses rather than a wage. It would mean I would need to keep working through, which would not be possible if the internship was for a considerable amount of time.
My options are to keep applying for internship but ones that have a shorter time span or a higher rate of entry into a job not long afterwards. I also will be looking into finding jobs within the marketing and advertising industry, to gain the skills that I will later translate into the theatre industry.
The current way forward for me is to apply for more internships not only with theatre companies but also with small media companies and form links with local smaller theatre companies. This idea of gaining work experiences is confirmed within an interview from a careers website with a current marketing assistant
“Got any wise words for someone who wants to be where you are now?
- Gain work experience in the field you want to enter “
These links will be in terms of putting some of my own work on within the theatre and volunteering in order to get know people and establish myself. This plan of volunteering is also more flexible therefore something that I can do alongside work.
Friedman, Jane. ‘Writer’s digest, There Are No Rules.’ http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2009/08/17/5QuestionsForThoseWhoDontHaveTimeToMarketPromote.aspx (Accessed 10.05.10)
Reeves, Wilson. ‘Embracing Diversity: Bringing Advantages of Different Cultures to the Workplace’ on Indiana Business Magazine. September 1 2008 . http://www.allbusiness.com/labor-employment/human-resources-personnel-management/11602855-1.html (Accessed 10.05.10)
Adler, Lyla. ‘The importance of team building: how to achieve innovation and competitive advantage through focus groups.’ In Business Mexico. April 1 2003. http://www.allbusiness.com/human-resources/employee-development-team-building/525073-1.html (accessed 10.05.10)
Block-Stewart, Laura. ‘Company Roles and Responsibilities: Defining Roles and Responsibilities in a Small Business’ http://business-financial-planning.suite101.com/article.cfm/roles_and_responsibilities#ixzz0ncIy5GUps (accessed 10.05.10)
Brown, Tim. ‘What Does Design Thinking Feel Like.’ (7/09/2008) In Design Thinking, Thoughts by Tim Brown. http://designthinking.ideo.com/?cat=21 (accessed 10.05.10)
Dupie, Linda S. ‘Beyond the Basics: Ideas, Observation, and Research’ http://www.writingcorner.com/young/thebasics.htm (accessed 10.05.10)
Heathfield, Susan M. ‘How to Deal With a Negative Coworker: Negativity Matters’
http://humanresources.about.com/od/conflictresolution/a/negative_worker.htm (accessed 10.05.10)
Allan Poe, Edgar. http://en.thinkexist.com/quotation/words_have_no_power_to_impress_the_mind_with_the/193315.html (accessed 10.05.10)
‘Black Hat Thinking from Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats’ http://www.debonoonline.com/black-hat-thinking.asp (accessed 10.05.10)
Myall, Rachel. ‘Meet the Professionsals.’ http://www.getintotheatre.org/case_studies/rachel-myall-press-marketing-assistant (accessed 10.05.10)