I was rudely awakened by a smoke alarm just after 4am which went on and on and on. 20 mins after it finally got switched off, it went off again. This was my morning until I walked out of the door, furious. I was in slightly lighter spirits when I arrived at Campus because three of us were now in the same head space, we’re back at day 1.
After the keynote talk, we went back to our desk and tore down everything we’d put up on the wall. Believe me, there was a lot. We’d gone through the motions of theorising a lot – key stakeholder personas, what we thought the platform should look like, value proposition canvas and on it went. Beautifully sketched out in Eleanor’s gorgeous handwriting (everyone who saw it couldn’t help but complement it) and colour coordinated. We went through a tone of post-it notes. If there was an award for visualised thought flows or beautiful diagrams, we would have won hands down. For the purpose of this process though, a lot of it was us still trying to find a way to validate the product even though the problem had clearly been invalidated. The difficulty for us wasn’t that there isn’t a problem because there is, a huge one at that or that there is no one to pay for it, because there is but unfortunately we were building a product that the users didn’t want.
One of the mentors had brought someone in from an organisation doing work experience exchanges to talk to us. They happened to have done research into young adults motivations, desires, goals etc. It confirmed what we’d discovered in no uncertain terms, British youth were apathetic in comparison to their international peers even in terms of respondents they didn’t even come near the top 40 countries who’d responded in terms of volume. The conversation also invalidated another potential route were were exploring, it was commercially unviable. We explored another 4 or 5 problems after that, we quickly invalidated them. If nothing else, we had become masters at invalidating a problem or concept quickly.
It was time to man up and face the dragon slayer. It’s amazing how easier a conversation is when you simply tell it as it is, be honest. We’d gone from the rabbit hole to worm hole and have now hit a brick wall. Turn out the dragon slayer had a soft side. We finally gave him something to smile about and nod furiously over. He ball breaks for the good of the team with just a smidging of sadistic pleasure (oh come on, he is human afterall), to move them on quickly rather than holding on by your finger tips even though it hurts like hell and you know there’s only one way this is going to go.
Our willingness to accept our current position and the understanding of our journey meant that we were the first to be called during wrap up. We actually had a choice whether we wanted to share our journey but it just seemed silly if not selfish not to be open with everyone. Afterwards, one of the other team members approached us as he’d worked in the education sector. He gifted us a golden nugget.
Though mentally and emotionally exhausted, we all felt so much lighter. We had a problem that was still based around our mission and a blank sheet of paper, what else was there to be but excited.