Investment game

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Scenario

This exercise is designed to help us ground our dreams, by (in effect) prioritizing different capital projects.

It has two parts:

  1. Brainstorm capital projects that we'd like to do. (15 minutes)
    • These should be capital projects, not merely expenses: it should be something lasting that can be used as a means of production
      • A new building or vehicle would be a capital project.
      • Holding a concert or a festival event would not be a capital project.
    • The facilitator lists these capital project ideas on a large flip-chart as they are called out
    • Do not write them too tightly; they need space around them for the next step.
    • As pages fill, tape them to the walls around the room.
  2. Everyone "votes" on these capital projects by spending "money":
    • Each person is "given" the same amount of money, we used $100,000.
      • Interesting possible way to introduce some real-world conflict: people draw different amounts from a hat, leaving some to have less to spend than others.
    • Each person uses a different color of pencil or pen to allocate their investment among the available capital projects.
      • Each person writes amounts next to capital projects on the flip chart pages. They get to see what other people have allocated, and possibly change their mind if they think a project already has too much money. They interact and negotiate while doing this.

Results

Here is the results we gathered in doing this exercise at the Advisory Council meeting on 1 April 2006. (Minutes:20060401)

Participants: Shannon Binns, James Cowan, Stacy Friedman, Lauren Goldman, Tara MacKeigan, Shiraz, Jan Steinman, Owen Thomas, Carol Wagner.

Capital projects are listed in the order they were suggested, followed by how much each person decided to allocate to that project, followed by a total. Some people did not spend all their money.

Project Carol James Jan Shan Lauren Owen Shiraz Stacy Tara Total
wave pool $0
community building $10,000 $5,000 $10,000 $10,000 $5,000 $10,000 $14,000 $5,000 $5,000 $74,000
greenhouse $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $6,000
jam space (music) $10,000 $10,000 $4,000 $24,000
kitchen - commercial $5,000 $10,000 $5,000 $6,000 $5,000 $6,000 $5,000 $5,000 $52,000
yoga/dance studio $3,000 $8,000 $3,000 $4,000 $4,000 $1,000 $23,000
art studio $2,500 $5,000 $4,000 $1,000 $12,500
homes $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $180,000
petting zoo $0
animal shelter $5,000 $3,000 $1,000 $9,000
pug rescue fund $0
orchard $5,000 $5,000 $1,000 $3,000 $5,000 $2,000 $3,000 $1,000 $25,000
vineyard $1,000 $1,000 $2,000
farm equipment $5,000 $2,000 $3,000 $5,000 $5,000 $2,000 $1,000 $23,000
permaculture garden $2,500 $3,000 $5,000 $2,000 $12,500
labyrinth $5,000 $1,000 $6,000
horses $0
tools $20,000 $2,500 $1,000 $2,000 $2,000 $1,000 $4,000 $32,500
sauna $1,000 $2,000 $2,000 $1,000 $500 $6,500
solar shower $1,000 $5,000 $1,000 $1,000 $8,000
bath house $500 $1,000 $2,000 $1,000 $1,000 $500 $6,000
microhydro power $15,000 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $1,000 $5,000 $5,000 $41,000
living machine $1,000 $10,000 $5,000 $16,000
chicken tractor $2,500 $500 $1,000 $2,000 $6,000
bike shop $2,500 $1,000 $1,000 $2,000 $2,000 $8,500
telescope $1,000 $1,000 $2,000
children's learning center $10,000 $20,000 $10,000 $10,000 $50,000
library $10,000 $5,000 $2,000 $4,000 $10,000 $31,000
event facilities $2,000 $1,000 $5,000 $8,000
outdoor kitchen $10,000 $2,500 $5,000 $1,000 $5,000 $23,500
wind generator $3,000 $2,000 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $20,000
skylights $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $6,000
woodshop $2,500 $7,000 $15,000 $2,000 $2,000 $5,000 $33,500
boat $5,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $9,000
tree house $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $4,000
tractor $5,000 $5,000 $4,000 $14,000
solar panels $5,000 $5,000 $10,000 $10,000 $3,000 $3,000 $5,000 $10,000 $51,000
sustainable vehicles $5,000 $15,000 $3,000 $2,000 $2,000 $27,000
totals $100,000 $105,000 $100,000 $104,000 $62,000 $83,500 $95,000 $100,000 $98,000 $852,500

Observations

  • This was not done on a spreadsheet! Expect errors, and you won't be disappointed!
  • Highest funded:
    1. homes,
    2. community building,
    3. kitchen - commercial,
    4. solar panels,
    5. children's learning center,
    6. microhydro power,
    7. woodshop, tools,
    8. library
    9. sustainable vehicles
    10. orchard
    11. jam space (music)
    12. outdoor kitchen
    13. farm equipment
    14. yoga/dance studio (tie, but farm equipment had more funders)
    15. wind generator
    16. living machine
    17. tractor
    18. permaculture garden
    19. art studio (tie with permaculture garden)
    20. boat
    21. animal shelter (tie, but boat had more funders)
    22. bike shop
    23. solar shower
    24. event facilities (tie, but solar shower had more funders)
    25. sauna
    26. bath house
    27. chicken tractor
    28. greenhouse
    29. skylights
    30. labyrinth (five way tie in order of number of funders, bath house, chicken tractor, greenhouse, skylights)
    31. tree house
    32. telescope
    33. vineyard (tie with telescope)
  • Most funders:
    1. community building and homes -- the only unanimous ones
    2. kitchen - commercial, orchard, solar panels -- eight funders
    3. farm equipment, tools, microhydro power -- seven funders
    4. yoga/dance studio, bath house, woodshop -- six funders
    5. sauna, bike shop, library, outdoor kitchen, wind generator, boat -- five funders
    6. art studio, permaculture garden, solar shower, chicken tractor, children's learning center, tree house -- four funders
    7. greenhouse, jam space (music), animal shelter, living machine, event facilities, skylights, tractor -- three funders
    8. vineyard, labyrinth, telescope -- two funders
    9. no project had only one funder
    10. wave pool, petting zoo, pug rescue fund, horses -- no funders
  • Everyone funded housing equally, and highest, at 1/5th of their total budget. Was this an artifact of simply seeing what others had written? Even so, it must have rung true.
  • There were no "pet projects". No project was sole-source funded, and only a few had only two funders. Most projects had four or more people willing to fund it.
  • Some projects, like children's learning center, were funded lavishly by relatively few people. Others, like orchard, were funded moderately by almost everyone.
  • Most projects had relatively equal funding among funders, with most having a spread of 5:1 or less between lowest and highest funders.
  • Some people found it difficult because of lack of information about actual costs of things, most accepted it as a simple "relative merit" exercise.

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