Fifteen local organisations have just celebrated completion of the Flock program, run by Pollinators Inc and seed-funded by the City of Greater Geraldton. This innovative and unique program proved a new approach that enables innovators and entrepreneurs to ‘fly further, faster, together’. The program is a fantastic example of how collaboration can contribute to the development of individual enterprises and community groups, all of which grow a stronger, healthier region. Flock Facilitator, Jo Blayney said “I’ve worked on a variety of mentoring programs, from running in-house training on mentoring, to being a mentor and also a mentee. Flock really stands out as having worked very well. The format and features such as the regular fortnightly sessions, generousity of the mentors, and supporting questions and resources have all come together beautifully.”
Flock was been designed to be outstanding value for participants, with participants in three ‘streams’ participating in fortnightly facilitated workshops with 4-8 peer organisations. Each week a different guest mentor also joined to spark the conversations and questions, insights and resources were shared using online.
One stream was dedicated to community based organisations – such as Partners In Grain, Geraldton Little Athletics and APEX. Session topics such as community & membership engagement, succession strategies, marketing and fundraising and managing volunteers. One of the emergent themes was how the better use of technology could enable better member engagement but also better operational management.
Andrea O’Loughlin from APEX said “We weren’t really doing much with technology, but during Flock we’ve learned about, used and already benefitted from using new online tools to promote and run our club. The combination of mentors, hints, tips and a group to keep you accountable has all been helpful.”
A second stream was for “Micro-enterprises” and the third most popular stream was for people “Going Solo” which attracted participants including an economist, branding consultant, yoga teacher, physiotherapist and a journalist. Going Solo focused on marketing, work-life balance, and business model design.
Rebecca Davidson from Progress Economics said, “It was clear a lot of thought had gone into the process of developing the ‘streams’ for Flock. I joined the ‘Going Solo’ stream, and while our group spanned a wide range of fields, the group’s members were all pursuing a similar business structure and shared common challenges. In the sessions, we heard from practising, local professionals who revealed their insights into the topics the group had identified for discussion, and as business people who had already gone solo.”
“I believe that one of the key reasons that this program worked so well was the small size of the groups within each stream, which facilitated a much more open and frank dialogue and meant that group members were ultimately comfortable with sharing their thoughts and experiences with other members of the group, the mentor and the facilitator. This led to very open discussions, of where we were at, what we were struggling with and to be open to group suggestions of what to do next,” she said.
“As a result, I think the connections I have made through this program are far stronger and useful than those which one might foster at more casual networking events.”
“On a broader note, living in a relatively small regional community, I have come to realise that collaboration is absolutely critical if we are to make full use of the variety of skills and experience we already have within our community and programs like Flock are essential to facilitating that process. Personally, Flock has led to real collaboration and learning opportunities which can help me fulfil my personal and business development goals.”