Jaye Martin is a specialist adviser who joined Co-operative Development Scotland this summer. Here she shares her experience of what it’s like to work at Scotland’s co-operative and employee-owned enterprise development organisation.
It’s already six months into my new role as a CDS specialist adviser, focussing on collaborative business models, so now is as good a time as any to pause for a moment and take stock of my top five experiences so far in what has been an exciting and challenging few months.
This has been a revelation for me as I’d never been involved behind the scenes of a competition before – unless you count making up a quiz sheet for Comic Relief to sell around my village when I was 12! We were overwhelmed with the quality of the collaborative ideas contained in the applications this year and it’ll be a valuable learning experience for me to be involved in the strategy sessions for the winners when they take place in due course. Excitingly, we are poised to announce our winners shortly so watch this space…
2. New consortia
We support so many groups of businesses and communities across Scotland in exploring and formalising their ideas for collaboration and I love the variety this work provides. To mention only a few of the new collaborations we’ve advised so far this year: Destination Stirling, the new tourism group supported by Stirling Council, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland; Scottish Mountain Biking Consortium, a group of like-minded businesses committed to developing the best family mountain biking experiences, packages and solutions in Scotland; and Community of Raasay Retail Association (CORRA), the community group behind the purchase of the only shop on Raasay.
3. Community shares
On my second day at CDS, I attended our Advisory Board session on ‘Community Shares – Realising the Potential’. Of great interest was a presentation by Hugh Rolo of the Community Shares Unit in England. Their newly launched dedicated web platform for community share issues, Microgenius, is a potential game-changer for this growing sector. We are seeing increasing interest in community co-operatives in Scotland, particularly in relation to renewable energy generation (wind, hydro) and broadband projects.
Another revelation. Somewhere between dinosaur and sceptic when it came to social media, I can now see the real value in tweeting, blogging and their ilk – there is the potential to strike up dialogue with like-minded individuals and organisations and to spread the word about co-operative business models. Follow me @CDSjaye and us @cdscotland to find out more!
5. Collective Futures workshop
I was pleased to be asked to present on the consortium co-operative model at one of the Collective Futures workshops. This is an exploratory project to define the nature and form of co-operative business models used by designer/makers to sustain and grow their creative businesses. The project is itself a collaboration between Gray’s School of Art, University of the West of Scotland, Glasgow School of Art and a selection of residents who are practising designers/makers from all over Scotland. I was (unsurprisingly) impressed at the creativity used to facilitate the discussion on collectives, particularly the ‘mood boards’ which caused much hilarity (one included a photo of Katy Perry being blasted into outer space) but also revealed inner thoughts about the pros and cons of collaboration.
And as for my top moment outwith CDS…? It has to be when a boy from Dunblane lifted the Wimbledon trophy on that oven-hot day in July. Let’s hope the next six months are just as exciting!