Running a Tech for Good project will be fun and frustrating, terrific and terrifying. Be ready for the emotional rollercoaster so you don’t get TfG whiplash.
Three months ago you spent an intense couple of weeks slogging away on your Tech for Good funding application. Evidencing the need and showing why a digital solution might be the way to tackle it was hard work. Your application also asked you to describe your plan and the methods and resources you’d use to execute it.
But your application didn’t ask how you planned to manage the emotional rollercoaster of running a TfG project.
Well, you’re about to find out because your funding award notice has just arrived!
Euphoria & optimism
You made it! You’ve been awarded funding. Well done! You have a warm fuzzy feeling of euphoria running through your body.
You’re probably also experiencing waves of optimism. You know you’re going to build a shiny-new-cool-thing that’s going to make people’s lives better.
Probably scary and exciting. Euphoria & optimism before grant. Confusion and excitement during it. Hard slog afterwards…”
Billy Dann, Former TfG Grants Manager, Comic Relief
Anxiety and regret
However, it won’t be long before you experience your first wave of anxiety.“Can we actually deliver what we said we would?… Is it even feasible with the amount of money we asked for?”
You may experience pangs of regret at one or two of the overly ambitious delivery objectives proposed by your proposal.
Fear and relief
The grant arrives. Anxiety becomes outright fear. You may find yourself repeatedly thinking “we can’t deliver this!”
But it’s OK. The grants team are reminding you that deliverables are likely to change. After all they want you to deliver a “solution finding project, not a product building one’”
You keep hearing the mantra “focus on the problem, not the solution”. Your funders are saying it. Your mentors are saying it. The programme support team are saying it. This blog is saying it.
But you’re good at passionate ideas and shiny-new-cool-thing solutions. That’s what your whole charity does.
But this is what Tech for Good does. It challenges you to learn new principles and deliver in new ways. And while new methods may seem easy on paper, actually in practice its harder to change old ways for new…
Kicks in gently. Maybe you’re not going to build as much of a shiny-new-cool-thing as you hoped. How do you explain that to your stakeholders?
You carry on regardless.
Despair and panic
Put a big boot in. You’re definitely not going to build as much of a shiny thing as you hoped. Realisation brings anxiety about how you’ll explain this to your management team.
Tired but optimistic
Your management team are supportive. They tell you it’s OK and to do your best. One even quipped “focus on the problem, not the solution”.
You need to get down and slog.
So that’s what you do. You commit to understanding and using new methods of user research, designing, prototyping and testing. Your working pace increases and your comfort and confidence with the new principles increases.
At last optimism breaks back through the clouds.
Exhausted and euphoric
You launched a thing! Your beta version is out in the world and some people are actually using it.
What an achievement. Bring on the office cakes and after work beers.
What you’ll feel next is harder to predict. But it could be….
Alas. The money’s all gone and you don’t have a funding plan. It feels very not good. Your product’s indicators of potential are unclear and without more resources you don’t have faith in your plans to grow its use.
If not foreboding then hopefully you’ll feel…
You’re waiting to hear about other grants your organisation applied for. You feel optimistic about getting at least one and have a good plan for developing your product further. You have solid indicators of future potential. This makes you feel confident that you’ll be able to grow usage.
You even have a partially validated business model.
The ride doesn’t stop…
It’s true. If your project is worth its salt then it’ll continue. You’re going to go up, down and round those emotional loops again and again.
Enjoy the ride.
Get ready for it here.