Week 8 – Panel review

This week we had the panel review overseen by four designers from different backgrounds & specialisms. It was great to see Joe P. again and I found the experience overall to be fun & insightful. I was proud of how well we all did as a group, our presentations were all clear & everyone delivered their project in a clear, understandable way.

A PDF of the presentation I delivered is linked below for anybody who wants a closer look –

What the panel had to say about my project:

I’ve picked out most of the key points of feedback (paraphrased) from my panel review, each is listed below in the order they were given.

  • Where are the employers in this idea? Is there a plan for how you’re going to connect users with employers?
  • Perhaps you can think about some kind of certificate to give out which people can add to their CV ?
  • Perhaps to give the project legitimacy you could partner with an existing platform such as Indeed or LinkedIn? Might give the project some visibility / weight and some legitimacy in the eyes of employers.
  • I wonder if the first thing this young design community should do is to build this thing themselves?
  • I would focus on making sure that there is an easy way for businesses / companies to connect with this platform. I think that’s more important ultimately than thinking about trophies and badges. Sometimes when I look at these kinds of things I’m left thinking what’s behind this? Can I trust it? What does it tell me about this person?
  • There’s something about building alternative communities here – be careful not to fall down the corporate trap too quickly. Start at a more local level, start with you and your mates, start in a way that’s responding to your conditions and the conditions that you see around you and from there hopefully you can invite more people and grow.
  • There’s something about this idea of building it together that’s really enticing otherwise it will just feel like another faceless service which we’ve seen before & which aren’t that interesting or creatively rewarding.
  • What alternative models of organisation can you come up with to what’s already out there?
  • This thing can be lo-fi there’s a google doc I’ve shared with hundreds of thousands of users sharing resources and tools but it’s just a document. Your idea doesn’t have to be super polished, it doesn’t have to be a platform yet – it could grow into that but how do you begin it?

In order to reflect a little more deeply I’ve grouped the feedback I’ve received into two rough areas – “how are employers going to connect with this project” and “how can this start small and grow over time”:

1. How are employers going to connect with this project?

The point about connecting with businesses first raised by Yuki & which was echoed throughout the feedback is a really valid point. I hadn’t spent much time thinking about it until very recently (funnily enough it was something that Alec also picked up on in my last conversation with him). There were a few suggestions like partnering with established companies like LinkedIn which I like the sound of. Obviously there’s a kind of universal hatred of these kinds of platforms amongst jobseekers and young adults but their names hold a lot of weight within many industries. Alec also had a suggestion in his last email to me, he explained that I could maybe try and get employers involved in the group work aspect, perhaps partnering with them to set briefs or competitions for users in the same kind of way that a lot of design competitions do. They could even set challenges as a kind of alternative recruitment strategy:

“It might be worth also figuring out exactly what the “sell” is to potential employers. What about this resource makes it a valuable untapped group who could be great hires? How do you put that in a nutshell? In terms of revenue generation, there are perhaps some opportunities on this side of things… You’d need to be careful and clear with the rules and regs re: the use of creative work, but what if companies could set briefs or advertise competitions (in return for a fee). The first idea is tricky because you wade into the spec work realm if you’re not careful, but so long as the companies aren’t using the submissions within their business then it could be workable. Why would they set a brief then? Maybe as an alternative recruitment strategy. Maybe to give back a little as the jobs market has contracted.” – Alec Dudson

There are a lot of potential directions to consider here, I’m going to have to bundle everything up that I’ve worked on so far and use it as a starting point to begin working out these finer business details which will become more important as I move towards writing my business plan. I think the next step will involve some mind mapping and a deeper look at each of these potential ideas.

2. How can this start small and grow over time?

The other main glut of feedback was focused on the practicalities of building up the project from a relatively small and humble beginning to hopefully something bigger down the line should it be a roaring success. This is something that I had already been thinking about heading into the panel review and I knew that it would be mentioned in the feedback. So much of my work on this idea so far has been me grappling with the concept, trying to figure out how it works as a business, how it’s monetised, how it supports itself that what I’ve been focusing on is essentially an ‘end product’ or a best-case scenario should everything go to plan.

I think it’s been important for me to understand what my end goals are though as any roadmap has to have an end goal to work towards. The tricky part is now going to be paring it right back and thinking about how I get something up and off the ground with limited resources and even less publicity. Joe’s advice about focusing on my own & my peers’ material conditions and responding to those struck a chord. I’ve actually booked in a chat with a couple of members of London-based collective ‘Evening Class’ to talk about exactly these kinds of things. Hopefully that chat will bear fruit & I’ll be able to make some connections / learn about how they’ve managed to organise and work together in a low-key decentralised way. In many ways what they’re doing is really great as their collective voice and online group presence allows them access to opportunities and conversations that might perhaps be harder to secure as an individual. I’ll see what they have to say anyway, it could be that I take some lessons from them and move towards creating something similar as a starting point.

I will have a little bit of money to kick something off at the end of this project so as long as I’m realistic about what I want to achieve in the first instance there’s a good chance that I could get something going here. It almost feels as though I’m now working on two projects though – the version that would exist right now and the potential version that might exist in the future. The tricky part is going to be putting down that future ambition and focusing on the here and now.

Resources

Joe popped a bunch of really good resources into the chat too, many of which I’d not heard of before. There seems to be a lot of these kinds of small-scale decentralised support groups out there for folks in the creative fields but there’s next to nothing out there that supports a wider range of grads like I want to. I think that perhaps the best way forward is going to be to return to the interdisciplinary focus that the project started out with using that as the USP that brings people in.

Some of the links Joe shared:

You Can Now

Open School East

Total Art School

Covid creatives toolkit

Self Organised – Open Editions (On the buy list for next month, I have no money right now)

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