Keep the Trust: how we started to get lean

So, somehow the thinking around Keep the Trust was bothering Katie and me. We had won the tender (hooray!), submitted a project plan and GANNT chart and were ready to rock and roll. Without communicating with one another we were both wondering why the project wasn’t exciting us as much as it should and what we could do about that, given that we were committed to honour the Innovation Labs co-production process – essentially responding to what young people want.

My ideas crystallised when I participated in Lean Start up Machine (mantra: “Invalidate my assumptions”) and came away questioning all the assumptions underlying the development of Keep the Trust. Katie, already a lean thinker, was completely up for a fresh approach. We talked it through first with our mentor James, then with the rest of the team, Nico, Lydia and Jonathon.

In related posts I have described what those assumptions were, why we questioned them and what we changed as a result. Here it’s worth saying that although we did this critical thinking early on in the project, it still felt like turning round a juggernaut. With our dispersed team (London and Leeds) we can’t have impromptu meetings or catch-ups and we rely a lot on digital communication, so it was a challenge to keep ourselves functioning as a unit while we were making the changes.

It was also a bit anxiety producing to be changing the project plan, given that the plan is what we are monitored against and determines the funding. And there’s the paradox of innovating with a charity grant – innovators expect a dozen failures before one success. Failure is great learning – but you can’t really fail with public money!

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