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19 May 2020

Building from ground zero

Let’s be honest, it’s been wild.

The COVID-19 storm has left us windswept, drenched and thrown off-balance. And now before we’ve had a chance to fully comprehend what’s happened, we’re being released into a bustling world again.

Stop. Sit down.

This is a call to hold off pressing play for a minute longer. For one more minute we can remember to breathe, open the curtains and take in the view from the window.

We’re on the brink of a possible better future so let’s make (not just take) a few precious moments to reimagine what could be, reignite what we’re about, and reclaim where we’re going.

If we can gain clarity now, while sitting inside, we’ll have stronger foundations to stand on when we step out the door.

Here are a few thoughts on how to build your creative practice back from ground zero. Ask yourself these five Simon-Sinek inspired questions so when you’re ready you can meet the road without being swept off your feet.

5 Questions to build from ground zero
Question 1: Why does it matter? 

The mother of all questions – in art as in life.

It’s the question that gets us out of bed in the morning, that keeps us going when there are storms and fires and earthquakes raging outside, that keeps us agile and adaptable, that makes life a zillion times happier, more settled and more peaceful.

It’s also a question that allows great leaders to inspire action because they know their ‘why’ (if you haven’t heard of the ‘golden circle’ concept before, take a minute to watch the TED Talk, powerful stuff).

Why is your project important?
Why is your project needed in the world?
Why should anyone care?

The why behind what you do is your PURPOSE or mission. And the answer to this why is the key to unlocking a whole lot of magic.

TIP: Sum up your purpose in one sentence and keep it somewhere visible like on your mirror or on your fridge.

Question 2: What does Happily Ever After look like?

Once upon a time there was you in the middle of a chaotic world, a chaotic brain, and a chaotic studio. But then you discover your mission and ventured out on the quest of your life.

What do you see in your future, and what does a Happily Ever After look like? This is what it means to have VISION. To squint into the sunset and be surprised by the incredible possibilities.

Your vision should be exciting, it should drive you forward, and make you feel a little scared (in a good way). It keeps aspirations high and reminds you to think about your work as bigger than the tasks immediately in front of you.

Not only does it help everyone involved work towards a clear and shared goal, but it also helps you communicate your goals to your communities as well as helps to measure the relevance of projects.

TIP: Sum up your vision in one sentence and keep it somewhere you look often (like on your mirror or fridge next to your purpose statement).

Question 3: What’s the vibe when walking the road?

To get to the Happily Ever After you have to walk the road that leads there. Sometimes the road will be smooth and picturesque and sometimes the road will be up a damn cliff-face. It takes the right attitude and set of beliefs to take one step after the other and to see the value of your day-to-day work.

So, VALUES. They are the set of beliefs or ways of seeing things that underpin what you do and the way you go about things. They’re kind of like the moral compass that keeps you anchored in your mission and pointing towards your vision.

You can also think of them as a way to describing the vibe of your dream team (or if you’re working alone, your future team). Are you authentic, passionate, smart, bold and brave? Do you act with respect, creativity, flexibility, and manaakitanga?

TIP: Hone down to 5-7 values and keep them somewhere you look everyday (like on your mirror or fridge next to your vision statement sitting next to your purpose statement).

Question 4: What’s in your toolkit? 

By this point, you’ve got your reason for being, you know where you’re heading, and the right attitude. But what stuff are you actually working with here? We want to get down to the nitty-gritty of what you have and what you don’t. Where you could fly and where you could get shot down.

A SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis helps you further understand your situation and how to make the best of it.

STRENGTHS: You want to use these wherever you can. Play to your strengths.
WEAKNESSES: Be aware of these. Take action so that they don’t affect you too much.
OPPORTUNITIES: Notice the opportunities and make the most of them.
THREATS: Identify threats and plan for them.

Here’s a SWOT template so you can start laying it all out. Getting these ideas onto one page gives you a visual overview of what you have to work with.

And with that, we can head to the fifth and final question…

Question 5: What’s the plan, Stan? 

Understanding where you’re at and where you’re going is done and dusted. So what’s the plan, Stan?

An ACTION PLAN is a summary of what you plan to do, what outcomes you want, and how you’ll know if you’ve achieved them. This is where you put your mission into play and work towards your vision while making sure you’re operating in line with your values.

Your action plan will include specific priorities, key projects, outcomes, and measures.

Priorities: Key areas of focus
Key projects: All the actions you need and want to do
Outcomes: Concrete things you want to see happen because of your actions
Measures: How you measure that your outcomes have been met.

For example, I want to focus on growing membership (priority), to do this I will hold an open day at the studio and do an online promotion campaign (key projects), then people can come for a look and sign up and they can engage with my social media page and eventually lead to people coming around to the studio (outcomes). It’d be awesome if at least 50 people came with at least 5 new signups on the night, and online, to have 20 new followers and likes (measures).

Five questions and five answers.
The way to calm down the wild and enjoy the dance down the road of crazy-amazing possibility.


If you want a hand going through this strategic planning process or fine-tuning your why, get in touch and we can run a tailored strat planning workshop for your organisation or group.