I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the #BTVSMB Social Hack on February 3, 2012.  For those of you hearing about #BTVSMB for the first time, it’s the BTV Social Media Breakfast.  Unlike previous #BTVSMB events, this event was setup a little differently.  Not only did we get to hear from two great speakers, Richard Ting of R/GA and Liz Gerber of Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University, but we also got to implement their ideas with a team activity.

Richard Ting | Image provided by Stephen Mease

During Richard’s presentation, he showcased  projects from R/GA and how Social Media played a huge part in their client campaigns.  Liz’s presentation focused on the process of identifying a problem within a community and finding a solution to implement.  After Rich and Liz gave their presentations, our last presentation was from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Farm to School.  Their presentation set the stage for our full day group activity.

The primary goals each team aimed for:

  • Increase economic development in Vermont’s food and farm sector.
  • Create jobs in the food and farm economy.
  • Improve access to healthy foods.

There were a total of six teams which were all named after vegetables.  I was on Team Arugula. We worked in our team to come up with a solution which met the goals of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Farm to School using information provided in the presentations.

Here are the steps process of what our team went through to  come up with the winning idea!

Liz Gerber | Image provided by Stephen Mease

 

Step One: Find A Problem To Solve

Every team was given a packet that we’d use to help us follow a standard process.  The first step was to consider a problem to solve. We had to write three “worth improving” statements about Localvore/Farm to Plate issues.  I consider there to be problems with the attitude of elitism around Localvore, the lack mobile development for CSAs, and the flexibility of CSA drop-offs.

 

Step Two: Dig Deeper

We now had to describe the target user, their needs, their wants, and what their desired outcomes were?  For me, I was described as a young professional living in Vermont.  My needs were described as wanting a more accessible way to gain knowledge about CSAs.

Step Three: Define Your Point of View

We defined our point of view by filling out pre-constructed sentences that we’d bring back to our teams.  My statement was:

“Chris, a young professional in Vermont is constantly finding himself asking what’s for dinner and how can he eat better.  He needs a way to access information about Localvores and CSAs. However, there currently isn’t a mobile solution that provides information.  It would be great if CSAs could send out push notifications to his phone when they are delivering near by.”

Step Four: Ideate: Generate Alternatives To Test

We designed quick product sketches that defined what our solution would look like to the end user.

At this point, as team Arugula, we voted on which of our individual solutions was the best and spent the rest of the day working on it.

My mobile app idea was voted the best.  The runner up idea was also a mobile app solution similar to mine.  Therefore, working as a team on the two ideas, we hashed out the specifics of our solution and made sure that it met the goals of the agency.

Team Arugula | Image provided by Stephen Mease

The Winning Idea

The solution that my team came up with was a mobile application that not only provides knowledge of Localvores and CSAs, but also provides a new distribution process.  The two factors that my team kept going back to during our discussions were how currently when consumers don’t always know how to cook some of the items or what to do with them.  The mobile app would not only  provide a wealth of knowledge about the food being delivered but the user could also schedule drop-off times.

At the end of the day we had the winning solution. The take away really is how just given a few hours, a team of complete strangers are able to work together and quickly hash out a solution.  I personally hope this is the first of many #BTVSMB Social Hacks!

For more pictures please check out Stephen Mease Picasa album.

Update: Check out one of Union Street Media’s client, Fresh Tracks Capital as Cairn Cross recaps his thoughts right here.  Cairn and I were also partners for Team Arugula.