Finding the gap between idea and reality and how to connect the two to create the biggest impact possible. That’s the key of the Theory of Change, which was subject of the opening workshop of the Clean Energy Challenge Acceleration Bootcamp held this week in Amsterdam.

Ten winning teams are following a full week of workshops and mentoring by Social Enterprise NL in the Dutch capital to help them transform their ideas into viable products and new experiences. The bootcamp is part of the award for the winners of the Clean Energy Challenge, which was initiated by What Design Can Do in collaboration with IKEA Foundation.

Building blocks for a positive impact

In the first workshop of the Acceleration Bootcamp, ten of the Clean Energy Challenge winners dived deeper into the questions that can help transform their ideas into market-ready prototypes. This group of young visionaries is ready to tackle one of the great conundrums of our time: how to generate and harness clean energy. Their proposals vary widely and range from transforming the way we use public transport, to the cooling of food in warm areas and creating optimistic, collaborative attitudes towards recycling our waste in major cities.

Under the guidance of Robert Zwiers, Social Impact Consultant and Researcher at Avance Impact, the winning teams analysed the more diffuse parts of their projects and got the tools to turn them into strong, impactful building blocks for the future.

Know your goal

‘Knowing your longtime desired goal is key in starting the process of creating a positive impact and implementing the Theory of Change,’ Zwiers said. ‘Only when we know where we want to go and place that against where we are now, we can start to focus and see what needs our attention.’

This is easier said than done, something that is proven by the vigorous writing and discussions that lit up in the Student Hotel classroom. Every table was stacked with A3-sized forms that invited the participants to number their ‘steps’ in difficulty from 1 to 4; 1 meaning the easiest to comprehend and 4 the most difficult or vague.

Some of the Clean Energy Challenge winners had less difficulties with this, being already in their start-up phase and having done some soul-searching along the way. Still, the bootcamp was able to offer some new insights. An example of this happened to team Roots are the New Wires, who stated:

‘It’s really interesting how I have two steps that I classify as reasonably difficult. During this process I found out that there is an interesting connection between these two steps as they both address the ecosystem but approach the topic from different sides.’

And we believe that the same can be said about the Acceleration Bootcamp as a whole.

Where you get to chance to reassess your ideas and develop the tools to approach them from a new and different angle. To not only look at the design or idea phase of a project, but to really dive deeper into the different aspects that make an idea succeed and reach it’s full potential. Good luck to the winners who will be part of the Acceleration Bootcamp until Friday the 24th of May!

To learn more about the different teams, read the interviews with the Challenge winners on the website.