We’ve been juggling the balance of moving at whiplash speed with going so deep into reflective mode over the last few months as we approach our 4th birthday (officially 11th June if you fancy cake).
We’ve spent lots of time talking and analysing the past - the successes and the failures. Which got us asking questions about the future; where are we headed, what will the legacy of our work be, how do we avoid mission burn-out or mission drift, how do we allow space for all of the ambition within the company whilst allowing each strand to move at its own pace? Big questions which make your head hurt but your eyes wild with excitement. So we decided to allocate proper thinking time and resource to it. We received support from Arts Council England to explore this work under a ‘Strategic Review’ working with, the frankly awesome, Helga Henry from Birmingham Hippodrome to really examine where we are at as a team, a movement, and as a business. And most importantly, where are we trying to get to and how.
We got stuck in. It got messy. It got emotional. It got serious. We got brave. We all grew up a little bit.
The team emerged clearer; slight role shifts allowed us to reflect the value we bring to the team and how we could align our work to our life missions. The work got better; we started saying no and being really intentional in what we took on and honest in why we were doing it.
The community got honest; we built more bridges for communication including our ‘ears to the ground’ survey, launching a feedback mechanism online, mobilising our YSC to ask difficult questions and help us uncover solutions. It felt like, on the whole, it worked. We were overwhelmed that over 200 people came out to celebrate Poetry Jam’s 4th Birthday with us; faces from the first couple of events in Urban Coffee Co to new faces we’d never had the pleasure of seeing before. We listened; we made tweaks to our work such as our Pay Review and launching our Headspace socials to give people more chance to socialise.
Our governance got better; our YSC and board meet regularly, we launched an Annual Away Day (literally the best day in the year) with the above plus our team to explore our strategy, and we are starting a BrainsTrust of mentors who we’ll be working with to shape and guide our work and avoid ‘groupthink’.
Our ideas got more ambitious; we launched Brum Youth Trends. It started from a question “how could we get this treasure chest of insight out to the people who can do something with it?”. Kicking off with 643 responses and 120+ attendees of our launch event, this is just the start.
And finally, our mission got clearer. After a team hack and visualisation day guided by Helga, plus reviews with our stakeholders and community, we found the words to articulate why we get out of bed in the morning:
We’ve made some changes. We’ve subtly been testing and iterating them over the last few months to sense check how we, our clients and the YSC feel about them and most importantly, the impact they would have. Today marks the start in a series of conversations and opportunities to share where we’re headed and to take you along with us.
Our 100 Year Goal is to ‘build the thing that will build more things’: our dream is to have birthed new movements, individuals and companies that outgrow our work and do it better.
Today, we move forward more confident, more ambitious, more focussed and with more clarity.
Here are the Top 10 things you need to know:
1. We just launched our first ever Brum Youth Trends report. 643 responses from young people in the city, this is our first attempt to download some of our and their insight into one place so that you can think and reflect on your own practices. Download the report. The official Brum Youth Trends track by the incredible Brummie artist Elektric. The free A3 poster for your office. Tell us what you think here. Get ahead of the curve and sponsor Brum Youth Trends.
2. We are restructuring our work into The Beatfreeks Collective. Beatfreeks is a movement of people and companies using creativity to challenge the world. From convening young people in coffee shops to explore poetry as social commentary, to our work with large organisations running youth communication campaigns to grow their audiences, through to our innovative ideas to democratise data through tea and biscuits, our collective work together to fuel conversations and concepts that dare people to challenge the way of the world.
The Collective is made up of Young Giant, Doink and Free Radical. You can meet them below.
3. This is all founded on our Philosofreek; our philosophy is adapted each time we have a major pivot in our work since we were founded in 2013. Explore Philosofreek V3 with our updated vision, mission, ambition and values. Our Roadmap will be released in the next two weeks giving us time to account for feedback and reflection post our restructure. Tell us what you think here.
4. Meet Young Giant. Young Giant is a change agency building ‘Institutions of the Future’ through harnessing the power of youth; we help companies and young people to connect.
5. Meet Doink. Doink is a Do and Think Tank humanising data through art and creativity to tell extraordinary stories and facilitate better decisions.
6. Meet Free Radical. Free Radical is an art activism platform empowering young people to tell stories about themselves, the world and how they fit together (or not).
7. Team: you might have already noticed, we are growing and evolving. You can get to know the team including our roles. We’d love you to meet Mickel our new Business Development Manager we recently got on board to take Young Giant to new heights. We’re hiring again! Do you fancy yourself the new General Manager of Free Radical? Want to work with young art activists and build incredible projects and opportunities? Apply for the role here by 21st April 2017.
8. Beatfreeks Barbados is taking over… Barbados. We starting prototyping what a transfer of our models and principles to a context and community might look like. So far so good. With Poetry Lime successfully running monthly for over a year now, BFBim are moving into new areas of consulting with organisations including running a National Museum Takeover Day working with young people to tell stories about their country and its history. Ridiculously exciting. Find out more here.
9. It’s time to get a bit gobby. We’ll be driving conversations over the next year from Don’t Say Diverse When You Really Mean Brown which we’re launching through a workshop at Brum Youth Trends event through to getting behind TEDxBrumYouth in October 2017 to bring together young people and world-class speakers.
I was recently mega inspired by the generosity Futerra’s Lunch and Learn where the team gave me an hour of their time to share our work and, over burritos, gave feedback on our challenges and opportunities. We wondered what the Brummie equivalent of that was. Chips & Chat was born.
10. Our Community is on the rise. We’re a movement of people using creativity to improve the world; whatever you’re creative weapon-of-choice is, whether you see your role to be an architect or a hammer, you’re welcome here. All ages and backgrounds, all interpretations of creativity, - with all of the debate and opportunity that comes with. Beatfreeks will continue to grow spaces for the community to convene and collaborate from Poetry Jam to Headspace.
Tell me what you think. I’m all ears.
Written by Anisa Haghdadi