The Penultimate Week!

It’s the penultimate week of Enterprise by Design, and we had a very useful and interesting session tonight if student reports are to be believed.

The creative currency that the undergraduate teams have been accumulating throughout the competition are finally put to use in a Dutch auction and a timeslot-buying market simulation.

But, as with last week, the post-graduate discussion downstairs before the event was where a lot of really interesting discussion happened that is worth thinking about.

Something that I think the whole Enterprise by Design process has struggled with is giving the students the right amount of information they needed to be able to make the best judgements for their projects.

A lot of groups have said time and again that they weren’t 100% sure what they were supposed to do that week, and even coming into the fourth week with their PechaKucha presentations there was mass confusion and uncertainty.

A few ideas were thrown around by the post-grads for a solution to the issue, but something I wondered is whether situating the simulated market in a fictional currency was one of the causes of the confusion amongst the students.

A lot of students would ask what the credits were worth, or how much resources were going to be, and in truth the answer was “we don’t know”, because in the end their worth fluctuated the more scarce a resource became.

If you want a large group of people to quickly understand the value of something, it needs to have reference to something familiar for them all. A touchstone that they will all recognise and understand is actual currency.

When you tell someone you can ‘hire’ a TV and stand for their presentation for £160, fake money or not, it immediately has a value they understand and can place in context. When you say 160 creative credits, suddenly you’re throwing a stumbling block into the game.

For a project and competition that is aimed at bringing interdisciplinary teams together to understand how their differing expertise can come together to benefit a business in the real world, using real world values would probably be the best way to communicate that to the participants.

“You’re going to get £10 to spend for each team member that turns up, per week”, is more effective than saying, “You’re going to get 10 creative credits to spend per team member”. To borrow an idea from writing, you lose the willing suspension of disbelief that team members have when you throw a concept they don’t yet buy into at them.

“What? Why do we get creative credits?”

The mental roadblock of “what are creative credits?” stops the team from listening to the rest of the instructions. It’s like saying that the creature that looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and sounds like a duck is called a “smeerp”.

Obviously, this may introduce the complication of teams thinking they may actually get £100s for their end presentations, but this notion is easier to dispel than the confusion that students went through with creative credits and the idea of what they’re valued at.

Other than that, however, the night was really successful. The students were given the opportunity to speak to consultants, the academics and the business representatives, in 10-minute slots.

Some teams decided to hog a particular source of information, a solid tactic, by purchasing 40-minute blocks and muscling out any competition. From what I heard from some of the teams, they really valued the longer time spent with the consultants; and gained a lot of useful feedback on their ideas.

Using the spreadsheet market was an interesting concept, and I think it was a good solution, though there needed to be more oversight. One team, who will remain nameless, actually went 20 credits ‘overdrawn’, and thus spent more than they should have. Nevermind, I’m sure the rest of the teams got what they needed in the time they had.

I’m looking forward to next week to see what the teams have to offer Rib Ride and Zip World!

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