The Millennial Mentoring programme has begun! This weekend we briefed the students from Hackney Community College and Austin Community College and spent 24 hours coming up with insight led solutions run and managed by Maia from 3 day start-up. From today, the students have 7 weeks to do their research, build their solutions and pitch live to BA and RetailMeNot on stage at Hackney House on Monday 10th March at SXSW.
So – what have I learnt so far? The tricky stuff first!
Working in a collaborative manner over two locations 1,000’s of miles apart is HARD. Technology is often a hindrance and not a help. Yes, we have a video conferencing facility – but when this works – it feels formal and distant. Ok for presenting, not great for collaborating. Far better is people crowding round a laptop to Skype or Google Hangout. This keeps some sense of intimacy and creates an atmosphere where ideas can be shared.
Conversation intermediated by technology is stilted. You miss out on visual cues enough to still interrupt or mis-understand. But not enough, as with a telephone conference, to make this ok. So often conversation is awkward as you feel like you keep on getting it wrong.
The amazing stuff next.
The students we are working with are bright, creative and brave. Working on client business problems from brief to delivery is out of many of these student’s comfort zones but they are leaping at the challenge. And the saying ‘it’s always the quiet ones’ is so true. The quietest person in the team is the one who astounds with the most insightful ideas.
The huge cultural differences between Austin and Hackney lead to moments of pure delight. When a joke is shared or a commonality is found – it lights up the room. Making all the problems the technology causes so much easier to cope with.
If a group of people set their mind to do something – it will happen. This was a spark of an idea from Jon Burkhart, pushed into action by myself and Nick and then gladly made a reality by Hackney and Austin Community College. It took 4 months of planning - the Millennial Mentoring Programme has launched.