Generation Entrepreneur. Start here, go anywhere. Initiate48.
Design, Work

Mentoring at Initiate48 this weekend

Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a big advocate for the development of entrepreneurship skills. Even if not pursuing a hot startup idea, such skills are becoming increasingly important in the future of work. This was a big part of the vision for the IDX Initiative.

Thus, I was excited to learn about Initiate48 which is happening this weekend, over Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, at Blue Chilli Group in the Sydney CBD. As the promo site explains:

For the better part of our high school experience, we have been living someone else’s life—our parents, our teachers, our peers and our societies. We live in a way that does not resonate with our dreams and ambitions. We choose a path based on what others think and discard the values that give us happiness. Initiate 48 enables you to figure out who you are, what you enjoy and how you want to live your life. You have gifts that are brilliant and amazing and it matters that you let the world see them. Now is the time for you to take action and empower yourself—build your dream startup.

I’m delighted to be able to contribute to the sessions as a mentor on Saturday morning. I’m really looking forward to no doubt being inspired by the participants—their energy and ideas—and to hopefully contribute in a positive and constructive way to the weekend’s proceedings.

Superhero activity example
Design, Tips

The value of workshop superheroes

This is a cross-post from the Indigenous Digital Excellence “backstage” blog.

Some time ago I came across an idea/method from Adaptive Path that the authors dubbed Design a superhero. In that blog post, Leah Buley outlines the method and how she’d had some success using the method in the context of user interviews as a fun and engaging way to gather user requirements.

I really liked the idea and felt that the method may also have utility in a workshop context as an introductory activity. I’ve since had the opportunity to test that theory in a number of workshops (with some minor variation from Leah’s original description) and have found it very effective in this context. Continue reading

Design

Insights into co-design

Zumio co-conspirators Penny Hagan and Natalie Rowland have just published an excellent introduction to co-design methods over at Johnny Holland: Enabling Codesign.

While I could quote some excellent points from across the whole piece, I’ll start with this introduction:

Involvement of ‘users’ early in the research and ideation phases of the design process is often equated to “asking users what they want”. (A certain quote oft attributed to Ford comes to mind). Codesign however, goes well beyond this. The premise is that ‘users’ become partners. Rather than being viewed as a source of information to be input into the design process, those impacted by the design are invited to work actively with designers to shape the definition and direction of the project. Participation can include sharing personal experiences and perspectives, contributing to the generation of new design concepts, the evolution of those concepts, analysis, interpretation, decision making, evaluation and more.

When taking a codesign approach it is our role as designers to facilitate that participation. At the beginning of the design process we work with users to understand the design project in relation to their everyday lives including their habits, rituals, dreams, attitudes and experiences. These then become resources for inspiring design concepts and direction. In order for people to actively and effectively participate in the design process they must be able to imagine, access, and express their experiences and expectations. Simply asking people questions is not enough to facilitate this process. This is because people are not explicit sources of information. As humans we are limited in what we can express by our existing frames of reference, we can only talk in the language that we know.

This (perhaps unsurprisingly) reflects Zumio’s approach, and our process is strongly geared towards enabling this type of participation. Penny’s and Natalie’s article does a great job at providing some insight into the thinking behind some of the methods we employ to achieve this goal. Congrats (and thanks) to Penny and Natalie for producing yet another great resource for the UX/service design community…

Sustainability

Ezio Manzini speaking tour

While researching my report on design thinking and sustainability I finally had a chance to read some of Ezio Manzini’s papers on the topic. While I’d heard many good things about Ezio’s work (especially from Dave and Penny), I’d not had much of a chance to really dig into it.

The focus of the papers I read were on the concept of “enabling solutions” – that is designs that, rather than taking away problems, build people’s efficacy to solve the challenges they face, increasing their “resourcefulness” (to borrow a term from Emily Campbell’s RSA paper You know more than you think you do: Design as resourcefulness & self-reliance [PDF 356KB]).

While at the time I didn’t fully appreciate the relevance of these papers to my intended report, by the time I’d finished writing it I realised Manzini’s ideas had been very influential. Which is why I’m so excited to see that Ezio is speaking in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney next month in a tour co-organised by ASIX, TACSI, and the Centre for Social Impact.

In each state Ezio will be doing both a public forum: “Small, local, open, connected” and masterclass: “Next economy – enabling sustainable ways of living”. From the masterclass blurb:

Perhaps the world’s leading expert on sustainable design, Ezio Manzini sits at the interface between design, community and social innovation with a focus on scenario building toward solutions encompassing both environmental and social quality.

This masterclass will explore how the interplay between social and technical innovation is opening up brand new opportunities. How can we conceive and deliver “enabling solutions”? How can individuals, businesses, institutions, associations and communities collaborate in the framework of viable business models to support sustainable ways of living?

This masterclass is for policy-makers and practitioners who are interested in sustainability, social innovation and cross-disciplinary collaboration.

I’d thoroughly recommend this tour/series to anyone interested in sustainability and/or social innovation – I’m sure it will be an engaging and inspiring set of sessions…

Business 2.0, Software & web applications, Sustainability

Sustainability Challenge

On Thursday I attended the launch of the Sustainability Challenge programme, being promoted by Models of Success & Sustainability (MOSS). (There’s currently no web presence for the programme, though some information is contained in the MOSS PDF brochure. More info on the Sustainability Challenge website.)

It is quite an interesting programme modeled around a group board game supporting organisations in providing educational material about sustainability, promoting key points for discussion and incorporating anonymous polling (or auditing) tools.

During Thursday’s session we participated in some demonstration rounds of the game within groups. Even though we weren’t able to get the effect of a full workshop (due to time constraints), I was impressed with the promise of the tool.

It is designed to be run in a workshop mode, and it was a well designed tool that incorporated competitive spirit in a constructive way to enhance learning. And while the focus of the session on Thursday was environmental sustainability, the programme itself covers a much broader set of areas, including diversity and other social factors.

The customisation options alluded to by MOSS and Sustainability Challenge International (co-designers of the game, along with input from Swinburne University and Baker & McKenzie) seem quite strong too. There also seems to be a vision of “crowdsourcing” questions and answers for the game as well.

The programme seems ideally suited to larger organisations and CSR departments, though if the costs are reasonable (I’m not yet sure what the programme’s price point is) would also be appropriate for smaller group settings.