Sloep Ventures

When learning about this project…I asked the question – what does ‘sloep’ mean? ‘sloop’ in english developed from the dutch word ‘sloep’ in the 17th century.

A sloep is a small vessel for communication.

Literally it is a boat for communication between ship and shore, a sort of lifeboat. These boats can potentially save lives but are also they are also used for socialising. Boats and sailing are very popular in Amsterdam and ‘sloeps’ are sometimes perceived as a status symbol. I found this title interesting as it is has connotations of sympathy and competitiveness.

Sloep ventures is project running jointly with Design Thinkers and entrepreneur Tim. Using thier knowledge, expertise and facilities they want to work with companies, government organisations, clients and potential clients by offering a service. A new ‘special and innovative’ service that has never been seen before.

So how do we go about creating a service for companies with two hundred employees minimum? Companies like this attend lots of meetings, go to conferences and training days/sessions/weekends. All of which cost money.

I wonder if the CEO of these companies really knows what he/she is paying for? Why do they trust these trainers to influence their employees? to gain their trust and guide their thinking and behaviour?

Why does it seems the best way to train people, to offer new inspiration and fresh insight to the work they do – is to put them in a ‘room’ with hundreds of other people to listen to the same speech or take part in the same workshop that an entirely different company did the day before?

It seems vague, quite standardised and definately boring.

Sloep ventures intends to change this.

How are we going to go about doing this? First of all, I need to map out the steps we need to take, goals, objectives and criteria. Who do I need to speak to and what about? What information do I need and where can I get it?

Give companies something that they did not have orginally, and never imagined they could have. The service will add value, add something special to the mundane services that currently exist.

Indeed, it will have to be very clever and easy to use. What do the people who work at these companies consider a great service? What type of people work at these companies and why have they chosen to work there?

When considering future scenarios…’everybody has their own sloep’ . Employess know ‘their sloep’ and believes it is unique to them.

The other issue of importance is the training or workshop itself – the approach, the topics, the mentality and the specific problems.

The plan is to set up a focus group with people who have attended training in the past. I want to think about what these meetings should be like and the information I need to get out of them! I have never attended such an event, but when listening to others describe it I immediately drew comparisons to experiences at University.

For instance, let me think about the experience of going to a lecture. You sit in a room ( no windows? uncomfortable seats? smells funny?) filled with hundreds of other people, often you do not know any of them and you have got a little lost finding the lecture theatre, perhaps the lecturer does not speak very good english – you forget your pen and you do not feel comfortable asking a stranger to borrow his? You want to listen intently and take notes yet others around you are talking loudly and being disruptive? You are so bored you are starting to fall asleep and questioning why you are in the lecture in the first place? You are very interested in the subject and want to ask questions and have a discussion with the lecturer but you are unnoticed in a big crowd…these are just a few of true scenarios that highlight touch-points that I am sure both lecturers and universities who provide this service fail to notice. Most importantly, the fail to notice the impact this has on how university is perceived in general.

This comparison highlights an important factor – the environment. Where you are and your surroundings are key to good learning. This is where the End of the World comes in. This ‘creative space’ is situated at the docks of Den Helder.

It is still under construction, but the visions of Arne and Tim have me convinced it will be wonderful.

This unique location is a large part of the service that will be offered. However, it has to be said that Den Helder is an hour or so away from Central Amsterdam, and there are many negative connotations attached to the city. This aspect of the problem will most definitely have to be vigorously thought out. The reality is that the participants of the service are going to have to travel at least one-two hours. Why can’t this journey become part of the service itself? This time is precious in the sense it is an opportunity for communication between service provider and participant. Think about the mood you are in whilst traveling? Furthermore, the mood you would be in traveling with all your work colleagues to attend a training session. The End of the World is called what it is for a reason, it is on the very tip of the North West coast. This name as adventurous qualities as well as seeming quite mysterious.

This journey must be mapped and planned. Considering who and what participants encounter on their journey, how they interact with their environment, what happens when they get lost? What kind of things do people want and need when traveling in a car on a long journey?

During unique journeys like these the familiar can become unexpected. What if the End of the World pushed past the expected and offered the participants something to eat? Something nice, good and tasty! Wrapped up in a little package with the service provider logo? This would enable us to convey the company values, what else holds this possibility?

The outcome may be a unique, personal training facility in the form of a process, a strategy, a, plan, a website or software.