Mike Vickers' Blog

October 7, 2009

The Eden Project – World Class

Filed under: World Class — derryvickers @ 7:40 pm

The Eden Project – World Class

Today I went to Paisley Abbey (lovely place – never been before) to hear Tim Smit – master mind behind the Eden Project (which is spectacular – I have been to see it) giving his thoughts on Social Enterprises in the light of the project.  The seminar was laid on by the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition and needless to say the Abbey was full.

Tim is a very able speaker and speaks largely off the cuff.  The session was divided to him alone, answering questions by Graham Bell CEO of the Kibble Education Centre and finally answering questions from the floor presented by Graham.  Tim and Graham turned out to be a perfect duo.

These are some of the points that stuck in my mind (they are not in the same order as they came up at the session):

  1. The Eden Project
    1. 150 people working for nothing at the start
    2. Project cost £140 million
    3. Now 437 staff
    4. 11.5 million visitors so far since 2002
    5. £1b to Cornish Council
    6. Project to be self supporting – geothermal power (well it is Cornwall)
    7. 10,000 apprentiseships?
    8. Instead of laying people off 2 years ago built the largest outdoor skating rink in the UK
  2. Brave to think the unthinkable
    1. Start forward (can’t remember his exact works).  Don’t worry about the past
  3. Agreeing the way forward
    1. Coffees are where people talk
    2. Over the kitchen table
  4. Projects that succeed
    1. Throw yourself at it
    2. Think of the 10 things that could bring your company to its knees
    3. Community fuses with a Business – Community is an Asset
    4. are always underestimated in time and cost
    5. but the Eden project DID come in on time and at budget
  5. Scope
    1. Focus is utter rubbish
    2. Think of everything and take an areal view
    3. So nice to move from one side of the checker board to the other in one go
  6. People
    1. Four people to believe in something to make it happen
    2. Real people have accidents
    3. Too many smart people wasting their lives away
    4. Negative people are a cancer and should be shot (more compassionately paid off at any cost)
    5. Unemployed are a significant capital wastage
  7. Training
    1. Leadership is an over sold word
    2. Mentoring is key to bringing on new people
  8. Bureaucracy
    1. 300 civil servants trained to say ‘No’
    2. Accountants are not entrepreneurs
    3. Passionate against lawyers’ contracts – it’s the handshake that counts
    4. Board room discipline – 5mins only to make your case
  9. Climate Change
    1. 15 -18 year olds disconnected
    2. Show them the poisonous plants
  10. Contracts
    1. 3 years to give contractors confidence but break point after 18 months if contractor not waste neutral
  11. Social Enterprises
    1. Not about the library hush
    2. Social Enterprise determined by where the money goes
    3. Eden is a Charity Company with a Charity Trust
    4. Expect an explosion in educational business
    5. Dependence culture isn’t good – vulnerable in political sense
  12. Nine Rules for Eden Managers – sorry I didn’t get them all but
    1. 12 days a year on the front line
    2. Minimum capacity to do something else
    3. Read two books a year
    4. Speech at Eden
    5. Play the Samba Drums
  13. Getting there, there is no There when you get There
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