THE DREAM TRAP: WHY HUB MANAGERS WHY HUB MANAGERS NEED TO NEED TO THINK BEYOND THEMSELVES

THE DREAM TRAP: WHY HUB MANAGERS WHY HUB MANAGERS NEED TO NEED TO THINK BEYOND THEMSELVES

First comes the dream, action plan and then execution, theoretically that’s the general flow of most business development processes.

Admittedly for most Hub managers who attended the 1st Hub Issue Series, this was the case. They envisioned opening a space, in this case a Hub (virtual or physical), to fulfill what began as a personal inclined dream, whether this was a love for the arts or innovation, and set foot on this basis. However, a red flag went off the following week when the Hub users stepped into the court and there was a mismatch between their needs and what their hubs were offering.

This dream-oriented approach to running a Hub or business for that matter is common. In 2010, 5 years after the first Impact Hub-which has since become a global movement- was launched, its leaders convened in Amsterdam upon realizing that they had reached a turning point.

“The Hub system had become dysfunctional because its leaders had failed to create a structure that would effectively blend the interests and aspirations of its stakeholders.” (Bachmann, 2014)

In other words, they lacked a broader vision, which often results in minimal impact or lack thereof, in the community.

Facilitators of the Hub Issue Series, William Tsuma and Rutendo Kambarami offered some tips on reflecting on an all-important question for Hub managers: why do you exist? In order to avoid getting entangled in situations where a Hub’s raison d’etre, is disconnected from the people whom they serve, in turn, reducing impact:

1.Purpose

The answer to the question, ‘why do you exist?’ speaks to purpose, or at least it should, and this is the first point of reflection. What purpose does your hub serve? Why did you start?

2.Simplicity

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  Lose the technical terms and buzz words in explaining your reason for existence as a Hub. Rather, break down precisely, what basic needs is your Hub meeting? From this, clearer, more simplistic motivations and intentions should emerge.

3. Money

Money is a great motivator, but there has to be more to your existence than wanting to make money. The cited Impact Hub example is fitting for this post because its ethos epitomizes why most Hubs set foot in the first place. Hubs, in their diverse forms, are underlined by a desire to “catalyze impact,” and drive social innovation. While money plays a key role in sustaining the system, impact is equally important, and it is realized when there is a marked influence on key societal matters including unemployment, gender disparity or skill gaps. Apart from offering avenues for making money, what key issues is your Hub addressing?

4.Context

Remember your context. Who are you serving? In the case of Zimbabwe. the answer translates to approximately 14 million citizens, within which there is a 90% unemployment rate, who have needs to be met. Which of these is your Hub meeting and solving?

Ultimately, a self-serving system is difficult to sustain, and this reflection piece from the first Hub Issue Series calls for Hub leaders to continually take stock of their mission, and of what value they add to the ecosystem.

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