The Flow of Flow

🙋‍ Bec here, myself & the Flow Perth ambassadors recently had a reset session, which helped us define what we do and get some cadence into the once chaotic operating rhythm. So here's my very first blog post #influencer #thoughtleadership (jokes).

  • People are busier now than they ever have been
  • We claim we're over-worked, and under paid
  • We spend our lives staring at screens

So why on earth do we run this little ol' Flow thing? Working on tech problems. In the weekend. FOR NO PAY 😲....?

It feels good to give back

I don't have some fancy statistic to back this one up, but when we brainstormed, this came up A LOT. We're all from Corporate backgrounds so it might have some thing to do with the red tape, maybe even that we sell intangibles to people to earn our keep, or the fact that before all of this capitalism we're just cavemen that are built to trade blankets, berries & wheat.. but whatever it is, we know that we have the capability, and we may as well put it to use. And what's one weekend when we have another 51 right?

Also, when people ask me what I do.. I often want to be more interesting than the 'strategic comms girl at Bankwest'.. so it's also a nice fall back. My Uncle lives and part runs an Eco Village in Currumbin Valley, and he once asked me what I'd been up to - my excited outburst about my brand new house, designer cat and trip to New York weren't as well received by someone who sustainably lives off the land and helps the community around him live their best lives. So at the end of the sentence, I chirped in with "I also run a skilled volunteering programme that helps charities" - just to give me some character.

We learn a sh!tload and diversify our skillsets

We're a pretty diverse bunch with years of professional experience under our belts, but working in an Agile format as a product owner, on a brand that you know little about with the added pressure of getting things finished in 12hrs is an insane learning curve.

The squads we work with throughout the event also come from various backgrounds so you can get a completely different perspective about how to solve the problem you're working on, whether that's; how to reach target audiences, how to fundraise, how to cut code etc. Additionally having key decision makers with us through the hackathon style weekend, allows us to identify an opportunity and action it straight away. Sometimes we don't know how, but we band together and figure out. Almost instantaneously.

We've also built a network around Flow Perth and met some awesome people along the way. I've brought uni students, colleagues and friends along. Some people have scored jobs out of these connections. A few of us have picked up work for our side hustles. Plus when I have a crazy entrepreneurial idea 💡 over a few wines and a bento box, I know a heap of super smart, fun nerds that will make it happen.

We can make a difference that impacts a heap of the community

Did you know that one in five Australians have some sort of disability? And the number that live on the streets has risen by 14% in five years? That's a huge amount of people that access the services of some of the charities we support, so spending a little bit of time to optimise their operational assets makes such a huge impact for these organisations to be able to spend their time & scarce resources on other crucially important stuff.

The first Flow Perth event that I worked on was with Autism West. The CEO was a professional Lawyer and the Project Coordinator ( / marketer / HR person / designer) was a trained speech therapist. We smashed this event out of the park, in 12hrs we; redeveloped their app, optimised their website and app for search, built out PR and social content templates, diversified, commercialised and re-priced their product for the business so they had a new revenue stream - but we couldn't have done it without them making quick decisions, adding value and making us really empathetic to their audience. I was in awe of their skills and they were in awe of ours - but it's just a completely different implicit set of skills that you don't really realise you have, until you do something like Flow.

So how does it work?

The Flow of Flow contains three phases:

  1. Discovery: this is where the Flow Ambassadors consult to charity partners and identify problems to solve. This is generally an eight week process where we challenge the problems they've brought to the table to ensure we're solving the root cause and that we're the right group (plus we can recruit the right volunteers) to do so.
  2. Hackathon: this is the event where we have squads of volunteers and a clearly defined problem per squad to work work work. The kick off is on a Friday evening which consists of a briefing and high level brainstorm with the squads. Then we get back in for a full day on Saturday and half day on Sunday. We upskill the charity partners in lean and agile thinking/methodologies along the way with a focus on finishing. There's no point in us half developing a solution when they don't have access to, or dollars for any developers.. so we break things down and aim to complete.
  3. Results and value: this is a debrief with the charity partners and the ambassadors to have a retrospective and ensure they can measure the impact. This helps us ensure we're breaking things down small enough for the next event and we don't bite off more than we can chew.

So that's why! We genuinely want to amplify the impact that charities have on the community and would love for other people to get on board - don't devalue the skills that you have, every single person can make a difference (plus we get a heap of coffee and food throughout the weekend events).

So I leave you with this: 

  • What kind of things would you tell your greenie Uncle you did when asked?
  • You know those warm fuzzy feels when you do a good deed, do you want more of them?
  • When you need to lean on a network, who will it be?

Help us help others by getting involved to be a Flow Perth volunteer! Don't devalue your skills, and don't let them go to waste. #giftingpossibilities #go2flow