Now you can intern at TACSI!

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
  • Starting ASAP!

Apply using this form. Hop to it!

Opher, innovation, design thinking and business

Opher Yom-Tov, Customer Centered Design & Innovation, BT Financial Group, Australia from Creativeinnovation on Vimeo.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Experiment and iterate. Try, fail and try again.
  3. 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!

Two days at TACSI

The daily standup meeting, answering the questions 1. What did you do yesterday? 2. What will you do today? 3. What obstacles can you anticipate?

A few weeks ago fellow ID student Ella Sayers and I headed off to Adelaide to get a peek behind the doors of TACSI’s new residence. For two days from 9am-7pm we discovered the ins and outs of the Weavers project, a Radical Redesign initiative in the aged care field that looks to activate the family and friends of carers as support networks. The role of the ‘Weaver’ is to provide support in times of crisis and give carers techniques and tools to manage the caring role in the long term and help the aged to live their lives to the full. There was a whole new language to learn, including ‘Weavers’ and ‘Knowers’ and ‘Networks’. We sat in on meetings and eavesdropped on phone calls; the staff in the Radical Redesign very generously answered all our questions and getting us up to speed. After a day at TACSI we had a bit of a grasp on the concept and began pitching in.

Testing out the logos, fonts and countless images at our disposal.

Ella and I were working on a booklet to assist the staff when recruiting Weavers and explaining the Weaver concept. The Radical Redesign team leant us plenty of material to get us on our way, including a laptop (thank you DP!). We came up with a small brochure with picture stories to help describe the kind of things Weavers can get up to.

The ‘Community Corner’ with our additions of streamers and bunting.

TACSI understands the importance of play to innovation. There are jars of rainbow coloured pens, crepe paper and white boards a plenty. A sense of humour is welcome and wacky ideas are encouraged. This results in a workplace where all staff feel comfortable around each other, happy to say what they really think and throw ideas out there. One aspect of this sense of fun and family is the ‘Community Corner’ as commissioned by Jenna. With each staff member given a letter of the title to create, Ella and I were given the task of adding to the corner. We decided that hot pink streamers and bunting always make things better.

From left to right, Chris, Ella, myself and Sarah having a very serious discussion about the previous two days. Melbourne designer black was the go-to professional clothing option, the plan backfiring and standing out the studio’s colourful space.

At the end of our two day immersion, Ella and I sat down with the team to share our impressions of the studio and theirs of us. Our comments included the following:

  • TACSI has a friendly, open environment. The staff respect and take care of each other, at the same time understanding that failure is important on the path to a project that is a successful, long term solution.
  • It is a multi-disciplinary team, and it works. Social science, industrial design, business, visual communications and technology specialists all work together and teach each other new things everyday. The mix allows the team to cover more ground and have a
  • Organisation is key; the stand up meetings and shared digital and hard copy documents help everyone to work toward the same goals.

The staff were pretty interested to hear our impressions as newcomers to the project. And I think they got something out of it too. They are interested in having more interaction with universities and wanted to know if more students were getting into the area of social innovation. Good news all round!

The two day visit was an intense, illuminating and valuable experience. Both Ella and I took a whole day to come down from the ‘TACSI high’ as we described it. We can’t wait to see what they get up to next, and hopefully we’ll be back there in person soon!

Update: Check out our official blog report over at the TACSI blog! We made the front page of the website too, not bad. And apply for a longer internship, here.

Post-presentation

These are some snap shots from my presentation on Social Innovation, Design and Enterprise (S.I.D.E. if you have a better name please let me know). I was explaining my first semester of research and the conclusions that I had come to:

  1. What the area of SIDE looks like now
  2. What I want it to look like in the future
  3. How to get there.
Please click here for a closer look at my poster, or here for a closer look at the book that I produced.

The presentation materials were supplied by social enterprises in order to prove the point that consumers can turn to these businesses for high quality products and services that are in their local area and have a the bonus of being a feel-good purchase. Blouse by Dear Gladys, African donuts and fruit balls by The Social Studio, paper by Green Collect and book inspiration thanks to Beehive.

The panel for my presentation consisted of lecturers Soumitri and Liam, Centre of Design’s Simon Lockrey,  VEIL’s (Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab) Jessica Bird, industrial designer Justin Hutchinson, fashion designer Georgia McCorkill of the Red Carpet Project and Service Design and DESIS’ Yoko Akama.

I was given some great advice and ideas in the feedback time, with the one of the best comments being from Georgia, something along the lines of ‘I’m usually afraid of the whole topic of social enterprise, but now it makes sense to me’. That was pretty exciting because one of the biggest challenges of the semester has been clearly explaining my area of interest.

All in all a successful presentation, I think my poster design skills are slowly getting better, thanks mostly to the highly talented graphic designerly types in the class, and Soumitri’s Japanese aesthetic lectures. And the snacks went down a treat!

Credit for all the images goes to Charlotte Hannah.