All 2 entries tagged Project

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March 26, 2011

I have a problem, and I'm relieved!

It has been a tough week. My house is undergoing renovation (I don't currently have a working kitchen or functioning bathroom). I am ill (it's a pretty devastating case of man-flu :P). My girlfriend is away. I didn't get to see my brother for his birthday.

Still... all that pales in comparison to the stress that my project has been giving me lately! But, the bright side is that it is starting to pay off. I'm getting very close to being able to define my work properly. That in itself has been a long, drawn-out, frustrating process, that has resulted in me getting far behind my colleagues. It's not that I haven't been looking, I just couldn't find a problem that REALLY grabbed hold of me until this week. The question you have to ask yourself is what can keep you interested for 900 hours? Well, maybe I've been too picky, and it's surely resulted in me being behind on other work, but I feel like it was a necessary and worthwhile sacrifice.

So, what will my project be about? Essentially, we live in a world full of social and environmental problems, and in many ways, we have lost our ability to deal with them effectively. Currently, governments worldwide are somewhat crippled, preoccupied by various crises, be they financial or natural. Business around the world is also undergoing a lot of change. There is increasing customer requirement for business to act more responsibly and ethically, but beyond that, business doesn't currently have much financial incentive (the only thing it tends to respond to in the short-termist world that we live in) to do so. CSR is vital, but the way it is currently deployed is as an add-on; something that business attaches to the end of its existing activities.

This is where the concept of creating shared value (CSV) comes in. In the same way that we attempted to integrate CSR practices into our Waverider strategy plans, the concept of CSV aims to make the solving of social and environmental problems integral to business and value creation. While many large companies, for example Unilever or GE, are already doing this, there are many more needs that are not being met. Social enterprises, have, of late, begun to fill this gap, as CSV is at the heart of what they are attempting to do. One of the key aspects of CSV is partnerships; many companies can achieve a lot with a CSV approach, whereby value is created for both themselves and society, but collaborative efforts can make use of even greater resources, knowledge and expertise, to solve problems in potentially more efficient ways.

The area I plan to focus, therefore, is to investigate how social enterprises can best utilise partnerships to further society's goals, and thus create added value for all. In terms of the benefits this can bring me... well, I would very much like to become a social entrepreneur in the next 10 years.

Excellent 7 in particular, what do you think?


December 19, 2010

How do you generate mixed feelings in yourself?

Simple really, get yourself a master's project - you'll get scared, excited, anxious and curious, all at once. I think the last time I experienced the same combination of feelings, I was 19, and about to jump out of a plane!

Let me explain. I am one of seven students being supervised by a particular project tutor this year. We all met for the first time last week, to discuss the projects, and how to succeed. The tutor opened the meeting in a very memorable way. He said, "Based on my previous experience, four of you will fail your projects this year". Cue feelings of jumping out of a plane - or maybe being pushed out. With no parachute! Looking around the table at the time, I could see everyone else going through a similar moment. Apparently, in the past two years, 7 out of 12 students had failed their projects. I have no doubt that he's an excellent tutor, and that it was obviously their own faults, but it made me feel a little terrified all the same.

Fortunately, he had some ideas about how we could avoid such failures. The gist of it was, essentially, make sure you spend enough time working on the project this year. Sounds simple, no? Well, kind of. It would be easy, if there weren't another seven modules, 9 PMA's, job applications, and the rest of life to consider (being a student is just one of many roles in mine, sadly...). The tutor pointed out yes it would be easier that way, but it would have around 10% of the value if you weren't trying to balance everything in the course of a year.

Fair enough. So, how do we go about this in the right way. Basically, it will be hard to forget the kick up the arse that this meeting produced, so that's all the motivation I need. As suggested by our tutor, the seven will start meeting on a regular basis to provide a support framework for each other. I missed the first one today, for various reasons, but I think it's a great idea, that I really want to commit to because the value of it is obvious and important to me. Also, we're doing some heavy duty planning - a day by day plan for the rest of the working year being one form of this. From an organisational point of view, I've downloaded and played with the Mind Manager software we were recommended in ReMe. Wow, it's good! A lot of the other blogs I've read have been extolling the virtues too - if you have doubts, just try it!

We were given a mental picture to aim toward. Graduation, a year from now, where each of us goes on stage to collect our degree certificate, with Distinction. Well, personally, I think 7 out of 7 at 70% might be a lofty target. But I've recently learnt, you might as well aim high, because good enough is rarely actually good enough.


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