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The Circle is a cross-country, cross-disciplinary program for European freelancers and entrepreneurs mixing participants from any field of business with others from arts, culture & creativity fields, exploring, in learning circles, the ideas of entrepreneurship wellbeing, creative wellbeing and digital wellbeing, in order to create resilience to the challenges of today's world posed by disruptive situations such as the C19 pandemic, and doing so by developing business, creative and digital skills as at the same time they jointly develop their own entrepreneurship projects and capacity building.
After completing four rounds of Circles, the week of the 26-30th of September was time for the four organizations that host the program, Impact Hub Bucharest, Materahub, Impact Hub Madrid and Zitec, to meet and nurture the partnership. They were also welcoming new team members, so it was especially important to give space to care about the relationship. For this purpose, they used a Team Canvas, a very useful tool to build connection and shared understanding of the purpose and goals they all pursue as team.
How to reground and revitalize ongoing long and complex projects
The meeting of the hosting partners was also a great opportunity to “reground” the Circle and build new capacity in its members. When projects are long and complex in nature (many partnering organizations, participants, goals, milestones and different cultures…) it's common that at some moment they can fall into fragmentation. So this theme was also included in the first day of the agenda: an invitation to see the project again as a living being, in the image of a loved person: what is its essence? What is its potential? What are the bigger realities -communities, clients with their needs, earth…- that each of the participants in the project are willing to serve from their creative entrepreneurship roles? This exercise brings easily to mind something profound about The Circle: that entrepreneurship wellbeing, creative wellbeing, digital wellbeing all converge when we are able to see and act from our deepest understanding of who we are and the service we are called to do, the Impact Hub project manager Rafael Cobo states.
This process conducted by Impact Hub Madrid of seeing the project from the perspective of living systems principles (as it's done in regenerative design) was a great building capacity exercise for the full team. Methodologies were shared so the hosting partners were fulfilling other of the important goals of this Erasmus+ project: disseminate valuable tools among the partnering organizations so it can be widely disseminated also with their social ecosystems.
Learning through retrospective
Once connected with this strong sense of purpose, it was time on the second day of the gathering to stop and reflect; so they dedicated the session to review the program so far and create a shared learning about what has gone well and what to improve among several dimensions of the program: the processes that support The Circle, the contents created and also their relationship as organizations. This is what is called in agile management a retrospective, and is a key element of continuous improvement in a learning organization.
This process is done great when the will to learn and improve prevails so we can be of more value and service to our stakeholders, as this was the case. It also helps to have a good framework, as what you want to reflect must have some kind of guiding principles. The living systems principles view obtained on the first day was useful to inform this retrospective. And of course the perspective of the goals and KPIs of the program, as well the important “voice of the client” in the form of Net Promoter Score: the participant feedback was excellent (>9) which also was great to continue building the team's energy.
A new iteration of The Circle
Third day was dedicated to build the future: starting with next steps in the programme. For this purpose they followed a clear “North Star”: the “participant journey” and again, following a living systems perspective, what The Circle must be after the main bulk of contents has been produced: it's time for co-evolution, for “barn rising”, for peer to peer sharing, for applying and sharing.
So this is what will follow in the series of 4 webinars of this autumn, and which the hosting partners think start to open really the space for the potential of all this full journey to emerge. Content has been digested, the hosting partners and the participants are putting learnings into practice, and somehow, a new iteration of The Circle starts for all: more mature, willing to share, to return to society. The Hero's return journey that all mythologies share, explains Cobo.
So the hosting partners expect very much of this new series of webinars and also the multiplier events that will follow in each of the countries reaching many other stakeholders of the program, and which will be a great opportunity for The Circle participants to present their projects and expand their networks. All this will be informed soon.
Last but not least they talked about the future, a second edition perhaps with all this learnings, and explored new opportunities? So The Circle continues as an spyral.