A great Ted Talk by Rory Sutherland. He discusses how the framing of things is absolutely essential.
Some of the best quotes:
“If you stand and stare out of the window on your own, you’re an anti-social, friendless idiot. If you stand and stare out of the window with a cigarette, you’re a fucking philosopher.”
“I think one of the problems with classical economics is it’s absolutely preoccupied with reality. And reality isn’t a particularly good guide to human happiness.”
“Why, for example, are pensioners much happier than the young unemployed. Both of them are in the same stage of life, you both have too much time on their hands and not much money. But pensioners are reportedly very very happy, where the unemployed are extrodinarily unhappy and depressed. The reason I think is that pensioners believe they have chosen to be pensioners, whereas the you unemployed feel it’s been thrust upon them. In England, the upper middle classes have solved this problem perfectly because they’ve rebranded unemployment. If you’re an upper middle class englishman, you call unemployment ‘a year off’. “
“Our experiences, costs, things, Don’t much depend on what they really are, but how we view them.”
“Chose your frame of reference and the perceived value and therefore the actual value is completely transformed.”
I did a 9×9 idea session and came up with a bit more direction for my project. I was focussing on the valuable time that a person has when they don’t have to worry about their job. A few of the more poetic ideas included:
All employed people come to the assistance of the unemployed, as they may soon join them.
Become a gypsy, live in a camper van and have a family circus act.
Vinnie’s shopping assistants; helping you look expensive on a tight budget.
Live like a backpacker, follow jobs around the country (like Help Exchange).
Lessons on how to pretend to be employed so no one finds out.
A few of the more practical ideas where about getting a person to talk to others who share the experience and together to look at ways of feeling secure (financially, socially) without needing a job. Something like TACSI’s Family by Family initiative. These included:
A neighbourhood community
An online community
A buddy system
Some of these activities could include:
Helping out for non-monetary incentives (e.g. mowing the neighbour’s lawn for a home cooked meal).
Honing a practical skill and then teaching it , Mens Shed esque (knitting, woodwork, gardening)
Starting your own social enterprise.
I think I’m onto something simple here. A self-perpetuating solution where a group of people learn and grow then pass their knowledge on seems to be the go. Many grassroots projects are based on this concept of community support and shared learning. For this scenario I would design the structure and supports for the service and build in the maintenance of the idea.
A quick sketch of how I would like to change the space of unemployment. Obviously missing a few steps (seeing what Centrelink has to offer, breaking the news to his wife, coping with the change, realising he needs to adapt…) but you get the gist. I like the idea of placing a money equivalent value on community earnings, such as neighbours baking you a pie, or a life to the park, so that Steve can budget and control his savings. The result in a perfect world would be that Steve could self-sustainably in his community, and feel a lot more positive about where is hard work is going.
The final semester has begun! I have decided that my end of year outcomes are as follows:
Develop a social enterprise start up, founded on design principles. The enterprise will work in the area of unemployment in Australia.
Develop a tool kit that will help social enterprises apply design thinking to their work.
I have decided to focus on the topic of unemployment in Australia because it is a hot topic at the moment and is receiving a lot of attention from the journalists, government and public. I also believe it will be increasingly relevant in the future, as Australia adjusts to the carbon tax, and the changing face of industry as we, consumers, place more emphasis on sustainable practice (financially, ecologically and socially).
Narrowing it down to one topic will allow me to demonstrate the effectiveness of design thinking in social innovation, and the toolkit will be a way of applying this learning more generally to a wide range of issues.
A quick side note, We Teach Me is based at the York Butter Factory, a shared work space for Melbourne’s most exciting start-ups. Rooms full of entrepreneurs, working away on their dreams. Sigh, what a vision! Their website explains “the culture is one of collaboration, resource sharing and tough love,” invaluable when you are trying to create a service that will withstand the rough conditions of real life into the distant future. The very hip inhabitants include We Teach Me and the following:
RMIT communication design lecturer and one of my mentors of the past 6 months Yoko Akama introduced me to Marty Kemka, co-founder of We Teach Me. Seeing greater potential in the area of mature age education, the team believes that if you want to continue learning in your adult years, you shouldn’t have to go back to uni. Instead, We Teach Me creates a learning community where passionate people share their interests in lessons. You can teach and/or learn, and you can also request classes that you would be like to attend and if there is enough interest We Teach Me will try to help you out.
From astrology to fitness and paper craft, We Teach Me is a platform where you can take control of your learning and your day-to-day life is enhanced instead of disrupted.
It was exciting to meet Marty a few weeks ago as he really believes design can be a powerful tool in businesses. Many of the older, well established social enterprises I have spoken to in the past did not see how design was relevant to them. From chatting to various enterprises, I believe this is to do with the age of the business and it’s employees, as well as their flexibility. We Teach Me is a start up with a young team and an open mind, ready to try radical, yet well founded ideas.
I will be joining the We Teach Me team to see if I can input a bit of service and system design, focussing on making the lessons exciting and memorable and the online/offline transition silky smooth. May the service design gods smile upon this enterprise!
Just a quick update, after our stunning appearance at TACSI (check out Ella and my blog post here), the Radical Redesign team have decided they love interns and want a more permanent one. It is a great opportunity, click here to check it out! The position in a very small nutshell:
8-10 weeks at the TACSI office, Adelaide
Design background required, including visual communications skills
You must be a team player and a people person
You will be working on the ‘Weavers‘ project, in the aged care field
TACSI can assist with relocation within Australia, accommodation and provide a stipend
While I was at home in Sydney for a week, I had the honour of chatting with Opher Yom-Tov, the ex-manager of IDEO Shanghai who now works for Westpac’s wealth management arm, BT as the customer centred design and innovation manager. We spoke about all sorts of things, from the weather to . Some of Opher’s insights that made the greatest impressions were:
Design thinking needs room in a business in order to work. It needs the support of the powers that be (i.e. have the blessings of the CEO, or someone on the board of directors) in order to be given the time, money and other resources to flourish. It is harder to get design thinking in the door if the only person in favour of it is not being given any permission or resources to work on it.
Failure teaches you something important. Opher said this after I had been talking about how I had to get my major project exactly right as it was my offering to potential employees and a summary of four years of work. He explained that in the relatively new space of design thinking, if you try something and it fails, share this knowledge and it will help the whole community narrow down what works and what doesn’t, as…
No-one, not even IDEO has nailed the concept of design thinking (despite the CEO, Tim Brown, writing a whole book about it). We are all feeling our way, learning through trial and error, and it’s a slow process. Therefore…
Be your own design thinker. Have your own theories on the topic. There are no real experts in the field because it is so young, and because the point of design thinking is that everyone’s input is just as valuable.
Think of many alternatives, then iterate and refine. You can only see what works by putting it into practice. Be quick and dirty, come up with lots of ideas and see how they behave when put to the test (talk to people, make mock-ups, ask for feedback, then do it all again with the next version).
Opher’s top three tips for innovative projects are:
Journey together. Have a team that starts from the start and ends at the end, together. That means a multi-disciplinary team and no outsourcing.
Experiment and iterate. Try, fail and try again.
It’s all about the users! Take a look at IDEO’s HCD (Human Centred Design) toolkit. Opher believes that most businesses focus too much on their business purpose and technology opportunities in order to be financially successful. If they focus on their customers, not only are they shown to have higher returns, but their customers are happy too!
As you can see from the video, Opher is a very switched on guy and he is able to put the fairly abstract concepts of design thinking and innovation in business into plain language, something that I have always struggled with. He is also a people person; he’s easy to talk too and he knows the innovation sector like the back of his hand. He has given me some great leads in Sydney and Melbourne. I have many phone calls to make and emails to write. Thank you Opher!