During the month of October a 5th face-to-face gathering of The Circle project that Impact Hub Madrid, Impact Hub Bucharest, Materahub and Zitec jointly develop together with 60 European entrepreneurs and creatives under an Erasmus+ programme umbrella. This circle was additional to those contemplated in the initial program, and offered us a great opportunity: we had plenty of tools already developed throughout the year (see Startarium) by the four organizations and validated in the previous circles, and also we had the analysis of strengths and gaps detected. We also had new additions to the working group that provided us with proven knowledge in areas of entrepreneurial well-being, creative well-being and digital well-being that had been less covered.
It was time to connect the dots: when does a project move smoothly towards the best possibility of the entrepreneur, the project and the community it serves? What tools can help us in this process? This idea of “best possibility” was ultimately a profound way of understanding well-being, or “being at well” with our purpose, potentiality, essence, and with what the social and natural environment in which we nest demands of us. We decided to base ourselves on the framework of living systems principles and regenerative design developed by Carol Sanford, contrasted with great success although little known, perhaps because it challenges many paradigms; but isn’t The Circle after all a program that seeks innovative territories and in especially those brought to us by the creative source?
What we did, therefore, was to dedicate the first day to extract the most important aspects of the business canvas and lean start up model, and to apply it to the projects of the participants; in session 2, we began to pass these business models through this framework of principles. New opportunities emerged where each project aligned entrepreneurial well-being, creative well-being (project), and social well-being (effects/impact).
At this point, the participants were excited about the possibilities that were opening up. But there was more. We wanted to really dive deep to the entrepreneurial essence.
So session 2 and 3 included a deep dive into entrepreneurial resilience in the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment. We considered that the entrepreneur’s own creativity (connecting with his project, himself and what his environment demands in a profound way) required more capacity building and awareness training. Our aim was to become “imperturbable” in the VUCA environment, feeling that we know how to embrace it and dance in it. So we explored mindfulness as the state in which the entrepreneur is not dragged by his conditioning, but in full presence with himself and his role, which is not other than fulfill the purpose of the environment (social, natural) that he belongs to. This is very different from building an “ivory tower” through a more superficial approach to mindfulness. It is a true creative action.
With all this, we were ready in session 4 to move on again to the projects: we wanted to get to the essence of entrepreneurship, and we explored three entrepreneurial archetypes that lead to different ways of designing a project. The archetypes of the hunter, the warrior and the clown. From this exploration, iterations to the canvas emerged again, now much closer to the essence of each participating entrepreneur. Some canvases were now more similar to a community canvas, others to the creative canvas of Materahub, others to the traditional one, but with a very strong focus on in-depth knowledge of the client and a strong determination to be faithful to the essence of the entrepreneur.
There were still two important themes from The Circle. The first is to pass the projects through the lenses of digital well-being. And here the ambition was to create a completely new relationship with the digital, to see how it helps us to be more human together (the internet was born to connect people) and to turn technology into creative expression. We explored collaborative digital resources beyond MIRO, permanently used in this circle, as well as elements (rituals, symbols, what creates status) of a human digital culture. Questions like: What are we giving now status to that doesn’t really serve us? What are the new metaphors or stories from which we want to live? Or, What new rituals can help us put focus and meaning? were very helpful.
And finally, we passed each entrepreneur´s project through two additional lenses: the sustainability canvas and the social canvas. Although by the time we adopt a living systems principles approach in the design, the projects were already designed at its “core” with these sustainability features, it helped us to put a little more focus on elements of the value chain that were relevant.
In conclusion, we gave birth in very little timeframe to really alive projects in blue oceans, in which people, projects and communities were aligned towards the best possible future for each one. The Circle’s promise, achieved.