Last weekend, four of us had the privilege of attending the National Collegiate Inventors Association E-Team workshop in Boston. At the workshop, we listened to several successful entrepreneurs share their start-up wisdom, and took part in several exercises designed to help us refine our value proposition, identify solutions to challenges we face, and create a winning go-to-market strategy.
Perhaps the most valuable part of our weekend was the strategy mapping exercise facilitated by James Barlow. We knew going into the workshop that we had a tremendous amount of work to do in order to become an international food recovery network. Sometimes, like many businesses, we would feel bogged down by the many inter-connected challenges that prevent us from growing our organization and accomplishing our goals. Through strategy mapping, we were forced to list every problem that gets in our way, as well as potential solutions, using sticky notes on a giant canvas.
Next, we drew lines connecting each problem and solution. Oftentimes, problems were connected to other problems, which in turn had multiple solutions, but then certain solutions may cause other problems. Things got complicated! However, once we had everything out on our canvas, we could easily organize problems and solutions into particular categories, including resources, people, activities, and products. Categorization was an important step, as it forced us to get extremely specific when figuring out what we need to accomplish moving forward.
Thanks NCIIA for an awesome weekend!