Student Reflections: Journey of Discovery

This week has been all about inspiration and insight for our Edventure Start-Up Students…

By Emma Lacey Williams

Having spent the previous week laying the foundations and ‘building community’ through learning about each other and hosting the Edventure Soup evening, I was personally very excited and intrigued by the next step in the process – the “Research” phase. The team also grew in numbers as Jake arrived in Frome and joined us on our Edventure adventure.

I reviewed the details of the phase in our weekly Student Handbook:

Discovery. It’s about gathering inspiration, insights, absorbing and making sense of information related to the group’s challenge. Your task is to take everything you learn through this phase and refine it into a presentation to give to the Edventure team and your client, Samantha.

Right. Climbing K2 was suddenly feeling like a more achievable goal! However… we were not sent off into the wilds without supplies or survival skills…

Our journey began with the question “Where do ideas come from?” Discovering where ideas originate was merely the first step in this incredible process. But where do ideas come from? This was just the beginning…

Johannes supplied us with a series of tools for navigating our way through this challenge. These included considering different types of research, reviewing a fantastic 80’s video entitled “The Deep Dive – IDEO Shopping Cart” (I found myself wondering “How deep can you really dive in a shopping cart?”) and some tips on how to stay on the path to “good research”.

Having discussed the root of ideas and how to research, we were then advised to “hold off” on the ideas… “Right. Dive into research. Find inspiration. But then don’t have ideas”…. Hummm…. 

Climbing K2 whilst blindfolded was seeming like an easier option than this!

But nevertheless we donned our thinking caps and brushed off our enquiring spirits to take on the challenge. We split into 4 groups, each group taking one area of research from the following: 3 detailed case studies of similar initiatives; customer / stakeholder research including facilitating a stakeholder workshop; an interview with Sam as our client and a site visit and considering the ‘bigger picture’ through research and expert input. So, off we started on our different research paths, with only a few days before meeting back at the point of presentation.

I was personally involved in the group tasked with delving into customer research. The Stakeholder workshop was deemed a success with 10 people attending, all with lots to pass on about The Walled Garden at Mells and therapeutic horticulture. We posed three key questions which were “How could the space be used?”, “How does the space need to be adapted?” and “Who would benefit from using this space?”. Although we gathered a fair amount of insight from this research, surely there were many more people we needed to engage with to conduct our research?

We had some phone conversations, organised some meetings and stumbled across an opportunity that was almost too good to believe! The morning before the presentation, our research team, with support drafted in from the other teams, hosted a focus group with over 50 over-65 year olds at the Frome and District Day Centre.

Now the ‘easy’ bit had been traversed… the next step was to distill our research into four 5-10 minute presentations. By the following day. 

K2. Blindfolded. Wearing flip flops. That’s all I have to say about that.

However, the teams took this in their stride and presented to our client Sam, to our facilitator team and to other members of the Edventure family. 

These are some of the key points to highlight from each research group.

1. The Bigger Picture: present what you learn from the experts you meet and from reading about therapeutic horticulture.

2. Case Studies: present business plans and the physical set up of similar initiatives to show how they work.

Delving deeper into the case of Bristol-based initiative “The Propogation Place” at “St Werburghs City Farm”:

3. Customer Research: present what you learn from talking to potential stakeholders through a focus group and/or an interview format.

4. Client Interview and Site Visit: find out about the physical space, what are the restrictions, immovable things, assets etc.

Our very talented “in-house” designer developed this to depict some key aspects from our research about The Walled Garden at Mells.

So…having taken our various paths to our next stop-off point: “Research Presentation”, we regrouped, refuelled and rested, ready to embark on the next steps of our journey.

With a few spare minutes, we also put together our short “Top Tips for Fundraising” video – check it out on the Edventure facebook page!