A game to realise community assets

Since running a workshop game on Saving Slapham community spaces at the Community Matters conference, Drew Mackie and I have been working with staff there on a more sophisticated version about business planning and community assets.

The narrow focus is on how an organisation or social enterprise can continue to develop services and activities in the face of cuts in grants. We have built on an earlier business planning game to create a set of props that include:

  • The fictitious scenario of the town of Slapham, with its various groups and agencies
  • Profiles for different organisations, including their current activities, staff and legal structure
  • Ideas for business activities they take on to generate revenue
  • Cards indicating risks and opportunities that may crop up along the way

The game is designed so that it can be played “for real’ by substituting data from actual organisations, and there is scope for using a spreadsheet linked to more detailed business planning.

The wider and in many ways more interesting scope lies in using the game – as we did at the conference – in prompting groups to think how they can work collaboratively with others in the town to share accommodation and other resources. This is highly relevant at a time when Big Lottery Fund and others are promoting asset based community development: here’s how it is working in Thornton Heath for example.

We are still developing the game materials for a test run next week, and I’ll have more after that.

Meanwhile, I mentioned the game to Gavin Barker, who had blogged enthusiastically about the conference version, and who I knew does a lot on mapping community assets.

Gavin has now added his own ideas in a blog post here on how geographical mapping could be added to the game … or rather to a further development of the game, since the Community Matters version has a tight brief.

As we were sharing blog drafts and emails around this, I spotted the first newsletter from Spacehive, which is an online platform that enables local groups to pitch their projects for funding. This can certainly be one of the business development ideas to include as options for organisations in the game … but could perhaps play a bigger part in promoting collaborations.

Drew reckons that we need some social network mapping in there too, since collaboration depends very much on the building of trust and relationships. Seeing who know who, and who holds what resources, is an important starting point.

Overall we are getting to the point where we can see the Slapham scenario and props as the basis for a virtual lab to test out different sorts of games. We are also working on an upgrade of the social media game.

The orginal conference session developed because Community Matters kindly asked if I would keynote at the conference … to which I said I would much rather run a workshop. In the event Drew did most of the work, and while some of the props were a big rough, the session was a big success because the pieces of card and maps were good enough to spark some conversations … and release the knowledge assets held by those participating. Much more useful than any presentation that I might offer.
If you are interested in the gsame, do drop a comment or get in touch here.


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  • Lorna Prescott
    February 25, 2012 - 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Hi David
    I’m really interested in this game, and wonder if it could be bought to /shared with the Our Society in Dudley Borough folk. Through a community rights project with Urban Forum we’ve identified a desire among grassroots groups and activists for what we’re calling Managing Assets and Services Holistically (MASH). Last night we shared this idea with Council Directors and the Chief Exec and we hope it will influence their approach to thinking about physical assets. I’ve been adding things I’ve learned from reading about asset mapping and asset-based approaches, and this will all be bought together in the Our Society Guide. We’re planning a MASH Lab in Dudley in late April, it could be a perfect opportunity to play your game, especially as our LSP has been looking at publicly owned buildings in one part of the Borough to identify ways to maximise their use (though they haven’t, to date, involved or considered VCFS use). We’re keen that co-location is more than just sharing a postal address, we want to encourage an attitude which promotes connections and collaboration between co-located teams, groups, organisations etc.
    I’d be keen to discuss using the game in Dudley. Thanks.

    • david wilcox
      February 25, 2012 - 10:46 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Lorna – that sounds like a brilliant opportunity to develop the game further, and link it to other resources. Let’s talk further on the details.

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