In 2020 I was fortunate to be a part of the team working to bring The Pivot Event to life. This was the first instalment of an initiative by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) to nurture a culture of moonshot thinking in the Caribbean. The specific objective was to generate the big ideas that have the potential to radically pivot the region towards a better future within the next two decades. The moonshots.
My consulting role was as the Event and Communications Coordinator for this virtual event, and for the crowdsource-based competition for moonshots that preceded it. Together they formed the Pivot campaign, a burst of activity designed to ignite a movement. The Pivot Movement.
I was fortunate in several ways:
It was 2020 and my expectation of income decline due to COVID-19 economic impacts was real so a new project in the second half of the year was welcomed.
The mandate of Pivot aligned with my personal vision to transform lives for better (this is always a personal measuring stick for accepting projects (to what extent will lives be transformed for the better as a result of my work?)
The premise of throwing a net out to catch a bounty of ideas from anywhere in the region was exciting because, after all innovative ideas can come from anywhere but many never see the light of day and that could be to our region’s detriment.
I was curious about moonshot thinking as a skill. Anyone can dream up anything right? How does that translate into a final real output? I imagined scientists and artists, business people and dreamers all busily working together to come up with mind blowing ideas with tremendous possibilities. This would be a learning experience for me and I love to learn.
I would be working with professionals from across the region and the Americas whether in web development, graphic design, communications, or project management. This has been one of the most rewarding features of being a consultant over the last three years.
"I imagined scientists and artists, business people and dreamers all busily working together to come up with mind blowing ideas with tremendous possibilities. This would be a learning experience for me and I love to learn."
The work during that two-month period could well have been one year. That was the kind of intensity. A website needed to be completed, competition rules and terms and conditions finalised, invitee lists to be reviewed, hundreds of competition submissions to be gathered and passed on to a panel of judges, news releases written, invitations sent, mailing lists compiled and managed, email notices distributed. A lot of troubleshooting along the way.
There was no real blueprint for this. It was the first time it was being done in this way in the Caribbean region. Crowdsourcing moonshots? Pulling people together from all over the region in a two week intensive to create other moonshots? It hadn't been done.
And as this progressed I came to acknowledge how much, in spite of the first-time hiccups this kind of initiative was needed. There seemed to be a thirst for something new for the future makers of the Caribbean and this was it.
Interest was high. The event itself, because it required small groups working intensely, could not accommodate a large number of participants and was oversubscribed. The idea search had a flood of last minute entries.
Rousing and inspired opening remarks by the Prime Minister of Barbados Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, set the tone for the work and was shared multiple times across social media as a rallying cry for Caribbean innovation.
What though sealed the deal for me and made it all worth it, was sitting in on some of the sessions and experiencing how a start point and framework for big thinking was crafted by the facilitators from Singularity University. It was seeing groups’ members wrestle with the real issues in the region and the ways in which they could address them with their moonshots. It was watching people “think big and work together” as the General Manager of the Country Department Caribbean Group (CCB), IDB had implored in her opening remarks.
It felt special to be a part of this, like a pioneer almost. But that was in fact only the beginning. The moonshots that emerged from the process now serve as a starting point for real exploration of what can be achieved, how and in what time frame. It’s an endeavour of research, refinement financing, planning, experimenting.
Pivot as a movement is in its infancy and I’m happy to be continuing as part of the team to move it along to greater maturity.
The Pivot Book, Pivot: The Future Makers helps us see what Caribbean Life could look like in 2040 if some of the moonshots envisioned were achieved. Download it here.