We love innovation. We also love traditions. Since the beginning, we asked our community for feedback and input concerning Impact Hub. For four years, this format was called „Let’s talk about Hub“ and happened right before our annual Christmas Party. To continue this tradition, we decided to hold our Townhall Meeting #2 on December 18 right before our HubXpress Christmas party. Whereas the first Townhall Meeting was more about surfacing topics that are relevant to our community, this one was about starting concrete action items.
Looking back and forward: the story of growth
The last event of the year is always a good reason to look back on the year that passed – a very eventful year in our case – which Nicola summarized for everyone. Our biggest happening was certainly our marriage with Colab. And probably that we finally have good coffee – it only took us five years! Our community grew from 410 to 600 members. With more entrepreneurs but also corporations joining us a more diverse community emerged united in their mission to prototype the future of business. We held over 100 events at our spaces, the biggest one being our fantastic opening party of the new Colab space in September. Also globally, the Impact Hub network grew to the size of over 80 Impact Hubs around the world with more than 13’000 members. And with new Global Membership and Passport, the easy traveling for members among Impact Hubs is now guaranteed.
Impact Hub Zürich also grew as an organization. We went from 12 to 25 people in one year, which is an amazing growth. And we will keep working on ourselves, to improve ourselves, to prototype the future of work within our organization and to venture on new paths of governance within our organization. However in order to be able to define in which direction we want to grow, we need to know what our vision is.
Creating a shared language for a shared vision
The original vision when the Hub was founded was about “creating a physical home for a community”, “moving things together“ and „pushing the (then still very new) concept of sustainability“. When meeting and flirting with Colab, we realized that although our languages were different (their slogan was „more than a workspace“), our ideas and vision of the future were compatible. But we had to find a new shared language for our new “joined” Impact Hub and finally did so by expanding from focussing mostly on social entrepreneurship to shift our attention to the future of business.
Though we know WHAT we are doing – namely building an ecosystem of innovation and change with you – we still need to figure out the HOW. This is what we will do: We will take the next 3 months to work on our vision. Step 1 will be getting your feedback through a survey to find out how you see us. During step 2, we will analyze the data and your input and open up the dialogue during a „world café“ to discuss it. And finally, we will try to align all the views into one shared language and vision in step 3. Our goals is to have something we all can identify with in April.
Let’s get our hands dirty: the group works
After the general intro, we split up in small groups to discuss topics currently relevant to our community. Every participant could choose him/herself which group to join. We had the following groups:
- Vision → what does the Impact Hub stand for?
- Member Involvement → how do members want to be involved in day-to-day decision making at the Impact Hub?
- Makers Space → there will be a space for Makers on the attic. How to set that up? How to grow the Makers Tribe?
- Corporate and Startups → how to create more value for startups participating in programs with corporates?
- Communication → how to improve communication with and among members?
- Events at Colab → which events do we want to organize at Colab?
- Space Colab → what are the most urgent space needs at Colab?
- Co-working and Co-living → what can be done to make Impact Hub a true home for members?
Below you can find a short summary of each of the groups plus a concrete action item. We will look back upon them at the next Townhall Meeting to make sure action has been taken. Make sure to sign up for the next one in April here.
Michel informed the group about the upcoming process to develop the renewed common vision for the Impact Hub after the wedding between Colab and Impact Hub. Starting point are the values collaboration, passion, purpose, and maker spirit. Group members showed their interest to participate in the discussion of the vision.
Action item: inform the community about the planned steps to develop the vision, including options how to involve them.
The group discussed how members could be more integrated into day-to-day decision making at Impact Hub. Are these quarterly Townhall meetings enough or is more needed? We identified the following stages of involvement “feedback —> decision —> implementation”. The group felt that decisions should remain with Impact Hub, but they were more than happy to help with feedback and implementation. A structure has to be found that is lean yet can give more strategic input than “just” the quarterly Town Hall Meetings.
Action item: During the next Townhall Meeting on April 11 we will set up a structure for “working groups” and its exact workings.
This group discussed the topic “maker spaces” on a very broad level. There is currently little awareness of the fact that the Colab location should (or will) be hosting a workspace where digital fabrication and prototyping techniques can be implemented. We concluded that we need to show people what digital fabrication is actually all about to raise awareness of this topic.
Action item: We will put a 3D printer on display (e.g. in the café) and produce give-aways (e.g. small Impact Hub logo keychain) during opening hours.
Corporate and Startups
The group discussed how programs (workshops, trainings, networking events etc) which Impact Hub creates together with big companies take into consideration interests of the startups. Are those programs useful for companies and startups equally? The group felt that startups should be able give inputs into shaping such programs and defining what is useful/not useful for them. Additionally, a structure has to be found that helps corporates to understand the needs of the startups and train their employees to participate in cooperation with the startups effectively.
Action item: Defining how the input from the start-ups can be integrated into the design of the programs and defining key performance indicators for the corporate programs/workshops/events to measure their usefulness for the startups and future impact short term/long term.
It seems like most members are happy with the way we communicate through the Website and Newsletter/Membermail generally, with some smaller suggestions for improvement. However, they find it very difficult to find each other, know who is doing what (of team and member) and miss an interactive directory on our website. Additionally they criticized Hubnet: too much irrelevant information, no prioritization/selection possible, too many notifications, no groups for interaction.
Action item: Until the next Townhall Meeting on April 11, we will let our members know who of our team is in charge of what and integrate this into the Welcoming sessions or Welcoming email. As the members are a fan of toilet comms, we will also try to integrate this at the new Colab space.
Events at Colab
The group discussed what kind of events members would like to see at Colab. Ideas from the community included: Coffee-breaks, having lunch together, small feedback rounds (check out the Hub Weekly Huddle organized by Semu and Valentina) or to go give newbies a yellow tag so that they are recognizable and introduce the rule that newbies are not allowed to stand alone (have coffee alone etc). On topic based events the group pretty much agreed that they can organise themselves they just need a space and they need to be able to find and get in touch with the right people, which is not possible at the moment.
Action Item: Introduce Tea Time together with Hubonaut and Sarah Siegrist as Weekly.
Another idea that came up which does not directly connect to the events is the idea to sell tours to corporates and invite one or more start ups to present themselves. At the moment there are very little opportunities for the start ups to promote themselves within our network.
This small group was speaking about Colab. The very big issue is noise: it is too loud, especially on days where we have construction work. Generally quiet places are missing. And it’s too cold (we can show you how to regulate the heater 😉 )
Action items: We will better our communication about upcoming construction work and turn the Salon downstairs at Auer&Co. into a “quiet working zone” for the time being.
Co-working and Co-living
The last group discussed how every member at Impact Hub can help to make this a space where everyone feels at home. As an analogy we used the flat-share principle (in German “Wohngemeinschaft” or simply “WG”). A flat-share has no mama that cleans up after the others but everyone is responsible to tidy up and create a pleasant atmosphere . A flat-share is not a place where the people hide in their own little private rooms and try to dodge encounters with the other flat mates. The same way we envision the Hub to be a place where people come to interact with their fellow Hub mates and all together look after the space.
Action item: We want to establish guiding principles on how to be a “good” Hub mate, co-created by the community for the community.
We are happy and grateful to have such an amazing community who wants to contribute to the future of Impact Hub Zürich. And we look forward to April and getting more input from you!