Just over two years ago, I was sitting around a table with a small group of friends, having coaxed them to share their collective intelligence in exchange for a few pitchers of beer. Our goal? To come up with an identity for Concordia’s RECODE project, the adventure for which I was brought on board to develop and lead (and eventually co-coordinate, as the right teammate came along).
We finally landed on « CHNGR ». Two years later, even though most people still can’t pronounce it, I cannot think of a more apt moniker.
A changing project
For those less familiar with CHNGR, our aim at the onset was to raise awareness around the social economy, with the hopes this would spark entrepreneurial ventures throughout our participating campuses. At the core of the initiative, we worked with student ambassadors across universities and Cegeps, who would learn about the social economy and play a role in raising its profile on their campuses.
As with many new ventures, the first year was not without its kinks. We had formed a group rather than a team, and emerging entrepreneurs were hard to come by. We decided to pivot on our strategy, hoping to better meet the emerging needs of the student community as we became more familiar with the campuses in which we worked.
A change in focus
For our second cohort, we tailored our approach according to each campus. Our mission at HEC? Demonstrate that alternative management practices are possible. At ETS? Presenting economic and governance models that were seldom covered in class. Concordia is known for its strong culture of collective enterprise, and our focus there shifted from building new initiatives to supporting existing ones.
Through all these earnest, sincere, and sometimes teary-eyed personal accounts, the notion of « teams » stood out. While these students had worked on countless groups as part of their university career, many ambassadors noted this was the first time that they felt they were part of a team.
A team where it was possible to communicate honestly, to respond to conflict respectfully, and to celebrate a variety of skill sets. These are the kinds of teams that will solve the challenges of tomorrow.
I think we are onto something.
A change of pace
This project has been a challenge. Multiple partners. Many students. A context full of emergence and… change. As the second year wrapped up, it was already time to get the 3rd year going, but a question still lingers for me:
How can we honour the transformative learning journey of our second cohort, and keep this spirit as the project evolves?
The truth is we don’t have the answers yet. We need a break, and more importantly, some time to reflect. We know the project will go on, and our focus on the social economy remains unchanged.
We look forward to sharing the next steps with you… soon.
This blog post was written by Nicolas Nadeau (co-coordonnator of CHNGR), on June 8th, 2017.