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Global Challenge: Local Flavour

I recently hopped across the ditch to Queensland, Australia’s Sunshine State, for the Ideas Featival in Brisbane. We’ve been running a Local Food Challenge on OpenIDEO in conjunction with the festival and state government – featuring inspirations and innovative concepts from our spirited global community over the last couple of months. In Brisbane the OpenIDEO team were joined by policy-makers, food producers, farmers, retailers, researchers, educators, students, innovators and community connectors. Together, over two days of workshops, we explored behaviour change, customer journeys, environmental performance, health impact, community engagement, scalability and business models – alongside feasibility and implementation of the awesome shortlisted Local Food Challenge concepts.
 

Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer, IDEO

It was a particularly momentous occasion for me as I met a couple of my OpenIDEO colleagues for the first time after 6 months of working together from across our globally dispersed locations. Our co-founder, Tom Hulme, presented to a full house, asking How Do You Engage Those of the Edge? – celebrating the power of participation. IDEO’s Chief Creative Officer, Paul Bennett, provoked the crowd with Global Problem Solving: Can Small x Many = Big – confronting traditional interpretations of design to reveal how design thinking could be employed to address future social, ecological and political challenges.
 

Attendees were enthusiastic about the cross-disciplinary nature of the workshop teams. While we’re used to working in this way – it was refreshing for others who found it perspective building and got excited at the dynamic networks which formed around specific concepts. Read more on the workshops from our festival buddy, Ben Morgan, over at indesignlive.com And here’s an assortment of festival chit-chat:
 

Festival rock-star & entrepreneur, Robert Pekin, Food Connect: “Gee Whizz! Amazing to watch how local folk have applied their specialist knowledge to adapting these exciting concepts to the Australian context.”
 

Backyard transformer, Ben Grub, Permablitz: “There’s been a really good cross-section of players. I don’t usually interact with government, media and farmers and it was great to thrash out ideas from an online platform in an energised offline environment.”
 

Ray Palmer, Queensland Farmer with Symara Farms: “It was affirming to note that there’s a growing movement of folks who want to know the story behind what’s on their plate – across various sectors and communities.”
 

Jakob Trischler, Shortlisted OpenIDEATOR: “Awesome to get lively insights on a hot topic from such a diverse group from different disciplines.”
 

Ewan McEoin, Local Food Challenge Australian Lead: “Energy Central. Folks were amped to be building off such a diverse range of concepts supporting local goodness.”
 

Anna Bligh, Queensland Premier: “The Local Food Challenge has just gone gangbusters. You can actually go to the world with an idea and look for answers.”
 

Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer, IDEO: “Hundreds of great builds, amazing energy, long days with crazy jetlag but really, really worth it.Our first outreach OpenIDEO workshop was amazing and was powered by all your great input. Thank you all!”
 

Our local challenge collaborator will continue to pursue avenues to prototype a selection of concepts together with local government and those with relevant expertise, contacts and outreach capabilities on the ground. As always we’re keen to translate the stellar skills of our growing, global OpenIDEO community into real world action and change – to enhance resilience at a local level. We’ll be celebrating impact developments over on our newly launched Realisation Phases.
 

On the back of the intensity of the workshops we rounded off our energetic sessions with a spot of fun. We distributed stickers to participants and dispatched them across the gorgeously sprawling riverside area surrounding the State Library, to seek inspiration. The stickers prompted folks to Stick It & Show Us. They were encouraged to photograph their sighting and email it in to a website we’d quickly cobbled together – with a prize offered for the cleverest cookie on the day. Some have continued with submissions from further afield.
 

Check out more highlights over at www.thisinspires.us (With a hat-tip to Candy Chang, whom I’ve featured on Random Specific before, for her ever-inventive public engagement initiatives which inspired us on this.)
 
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I recently hopped across the ditch to Queensland, Australia's Sunshine State, for the Ideas Featival in Brisbane. We've been running a Local Food Challenge on OpenIDEO in conjunction with the festival and state government – featuring inspirations and innovative concepts from our spirited global community over the last couple of months. In Brisbane the OpenIDEO [...]

DREAM:IN – Hunt to Harvest II

Earlier this month I wrote about getting involved in the DREAM:IN initiative which is collecting India’s aspirations as a canvas for creative thinking. It intends to form a dynamic database of dreams gathered in cities, towns and villages across the country. These will be categorised, analysed and shared with business leaders, educators, social entrepreneurs, policymakers and designers to devise transformative and inclusive future scenarios. 101 student dreamcatchers were dispatched across India after training at the Bangalore headquarters. They were divided into 11 teams: Sindhoori (red), Hariyali (green), Asmani (blue), Chandni (silver), Sunheri (gold), Gulal (pink), Firozi (turquoise), Anguri (purple), Santili (orange), Kesar (saffron) and Sweth (white) who set out on colourful journeys by road and rail – capturing on video the dreams of a nation in transition.
 

The teams were provided with various tools to help them consider the search ahead, created by the good folk at Idiom Design. Encouragement was given to seek a range of respondents from migrants to merchants, learners to leaders, athletes to advertisers, drivers to domestic helpers. Within the teams, students were allocated with tasks of spotting, framing and writing to locate, film and record Indians reflecting on their dreams. Mitul Bhat (a usability specialist on Nokia’s MeeGo platform) and I had the task of briefing the Spotters on basic ethnographic techniques and some of the challenges of working in the field.
 

The journey itineraries were carefully planned to cover an expanse of rural and urban locations, covering 25, 000kms in just over a week. Army protection was sought for dreamcatchers travelling in less stable areas of the country. Accommodation was frequently in local guesthouses but also included places like a Jain ashram and sleep was often snatched on overnight train trips.
 

Images from the DREAM:IN blog

Alongside the footage of dreams pouring back into Bangalore, also came stories, photographs and sketches of life on the road. I was particularly excited to run into Team Gulal while they visited Ahmedabad during the Uttarayan Kite Festival. Just as they were enjoying a well deserved lunch break, I chanced upon them and dragged one team member off to the Old City to shoot photographs of her with festive kites. They spoke of capturing some great dreams during their trip – including those of a former silver smuggler who changed his ways and became a security guard. His dream: to protect and serve.
 

The editing team back in Bangalore now have the Herculean task of refining footage and categorising it ahead of the DREAM:IN Conclave next month. This will be supplemented by scenario building tools to assist professionals to translate the dream database into insights which can inform their future strategies. There’s much diversity which has been captured during the Dream Journey. Here’s a few of my favourites so far:
 

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Earlier this month I wrote about getting involved in the DREAM:IN initiative which is collecting India's aspirations as a canvas for creative thinking. It intends to form a dynamic database of dreams gathered in cities, towns and villages across the country. These will be categorised, analysed and shared with business leaders, educators, social entrepreneurs, policymakers [...]

DREAM:IN – Hunt to Harvest

This week I find myself in Bangalore lending a hand in the flurry of activity leading up to the DREAM:IN Journey. Challenging the notion that future thinking should be informed by people’s needs – the DREAM:IN initiative seeks to explore what Indians are dreaming about. It intends to create a dynamic database of dreams gathered in cities, towns and villages across the country. These will be categorised, analysed and shared with business leaders, educators, social entrepreneurs, policymakers and designers to devise transformative and inclusive future scenarios. DREAM:IN intends to collide the dreams of a diverse India with the thoughts and actions of leaders across a range of sectors.
 

101 student dreamcatchers have been selected from over 20 Indian institutes of management, design, communication and film. Next week they will be dispatched in groups across 11 itineraries which traverse rural and urban India. Along the way they will be questioning locals about their dreams and aspirations – for family, work, recreation, products and services – and capturing these on video. They are expecting to collect thousands of dreams from across the country. Before heading off they will receive training from a team with various backgrounds including ethnography (I’m pitching in there), education, advertising and cinematography from across India plus Brazil, Italy and the US. This group features professionals from Nokia, Ogilvy & Mather and Parsons the New School for Design. The findings will be returned to the DREAM:IN headquarters in Bangalore to be collated and categorised.
 

In February the DREAM:IN Conclave is a summit which will bring together a selection of students, educators, policymakers, social entrepreneurs and professionals from sectors such as finance, IT, retail, telecommunications and energy. Participants include powerhouse retail entrepreneur, Kishore Biyani and Fast Company’s Bruce Nussbaum. Findings from the Dream Journey will be shared through a series of workshops. These will be used to inform future scenarios via a rigorous design-thinking methodology – with the view to devising concrete projects to effect fresh thinking around delivering products and services at scale.
 

 
From February onwards an open portal will be launched which allows users to upload and categorise dreams by sector – adding to those collected on the Dream Journey. These will be supplemented by scenario building tools to assist professionals to translate the dream database into insights which can inform their future strategies. Drawing on the larger canvas of dreams over needs is expected to fuel enhanced creative thinking. 
 

So with dreamcatchers arriving tomorrow we’re hard at work finalising itineraries, naming teams, refining methodologies and editing presentations. Ironically – there’s little time for sleep – let alone to dream.
 
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This week I find myself in Bangalore lending a hand in the flurry of activity leading up to the DREAM:IN Journey. Challenging the notion that future thinking should be informed by people's needs – the DREAM:IN initiative seeks to explore what Indians are dreaming about. It intends to create a dynamic database of dreams gathered [...]

Reality Flies in Fresh Directions

 
iButterfly is a quirky example of the implementation of Augmented Reality, in which Japanese users chase butterflies with their iPhones.

For those of you still getting up to speed with the concept, Augmented Reality is the mash-up of digital imagery and our physical environment which encourages new forms of interactivity. If you want a less whimsical and more educational example – check out the Museum of London’s Streetmuseum app.

From functional to frivolous, Augmented Reality puts a new spin on Picasso’s quip that “everything you imagine is real.”

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  iButterfly is a quirky example of the implementation of Augmented Reality, in which Japanese users chase butterflies with their iPhones. For those of you still getting up to speed with the concept, Augmented Reality is the mash-up of digital imagery and our physical environment which encourages new forms of interactivity. If you want a [...]

Graphic Feast Forecasts Future

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What challenges will the next decade bring?
How are we going to overcome them?

So asked the The Institute for the Future of thousands of participants via its progressive Superstruct online interface to co-create its Ten Year Forecast. Density Design was asked by Italy’s Wired magazine to devise a visual synthesis of the forecast which could be used to stimulate onwards discussion by a wider audience.
 
Density Design is a research lab at the Politecnico di Miano which explores the emergent relationships between communication design, information visualisation and complex systems. It supports the use of communication design to facilitate dialogue within participatory decision making.
 
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Creatively combined with an exquisite concoction of allegorical illustrations, the resulting Map of the Future provides a common visualisation on which to base discussions and analysis of what may lie ahead. The map has already been put to use at the Capitale Digitale collaborative sessions held by Wired & Telecom Italia. Hard to imagine going back to a paltry powerpoint pie-chart after being served up this flavorsome infographic feast.

See stunningly detailed sections of the map on Behance.

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What challenges will the next decade bring? How are we going to overcome them? So asked the The Institute for the Future of thousands of participants via its progressive Superstruct online interface to co-create its Ten Year Forecast. Density Design was asked by Italy's Wired magazine to devise a visual synthesis of the forecast which [...]

Solution Seekers at Play

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“Attack complacency. Lay siege to boundaries. Load your catapult with options”
– fundamental Moxism

Recently I participated in a NextPlays lab by Moxie Design Group along with ten others from diverse involvements spanning government, non-profit and corporate realms. NextPlays is a transformative platform encompassing a culture of participation to explore sustainable future scenarios – then to imagine, plan and build strategies around them.

The session was exceptionally well devised as a fast-paced yet flexible programme which harnessed group energy and maintained momentum throughout the day. Activities alternated between presentations and discussion on context and challenges, exposure to inspiring case studies, rigorous team brainstorming around specific scenarios – and the personas that would be interacting with them. The seamless framework focused participants’ energy on a wide range of variables toward cultivating sustainable and transformative solutions.
 
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NextPlays Labs have been conducted by Moxie with a wide range of organisations both global and local – from Air New Zealand to the World Bank and upcoming sessions with big boys Procter & Gamble. Each lab is specifically tailored to relevant issues facing the organisations, with the Moxie team skillfully migrating approaches on the fly to accommodate the unique needs of participating enterprises. Strategist Bert Aldridge notes “NextPlays is not about delivering answers but rather it’s an engagement tool to enable and build capacity around the seeking of solutions” while director Peter Salmon succinctly refers to its power to “catalyse conversations towards sustainable outcomes.”
 
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The labs have been used in both Bangkok and Hanoi to explore urban development in conjunction with the World Bank Institute. Participants in these workshops have included community educators, climatologists, architects, environmental youth groups, waste management specialists and urban planners. In such company NextPlays has played a role in the aligning of agendas towards future-focused outcomes on a civic scale. Through encouraging an appreciation of inter-connectedness, divergent players discover potential efficiencies and opportunities.
 
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And back here on home turf I found the expert guidance from scenarios to solutions, context to collaboration, macro to micro – all made for a highly rewarding and productive experience of the Moxie mix.

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"Attack complacency. Lay siege to boundaries. Load your catapult with options" – fundamental Moxism Recently I participated in a NextPlays lab by Moxie Design Group along with ten others from diverse involvements spanning government, non-profit and corporate realms. NextPlays is a transformative platform encompassing a culture of participation to explore sustainable future scenarios – then [...]

Deck of Cards Drives Dialogue

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Last week I received a box set of Drivers of Change cards from Arup’s Foresight and Innovation team in London. They are part of an on-going research programme exploring those issues most likely to have a major impact upon society. Some time back they had requested an image I had photographed to be included in the publication and its been great to view the entire package which is designed to ignite minds in our transitory times.
 
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The box contains sets of cards on issues that drive change: energy, waste, climate change, water, demographics, urbanisation and poverty which are further divided into categories: social, technological, economic, environmental and political. Each card covers a single driver and presents a provocative question and image appended by a challenging fact and sub-issue. The reverse features further research, figures, maps and supporting detail – all coming together to prompt exploration of emerging trends in brainstorming sessions. The questions were derived from Arup’s own workshops with professionals on what is driving change in their sectors.

The cards have been used in a number of events by Arup to promote dialogue – always encouraging interactivity and often involving a sense of play. At a Tokyo Designers’ Week the cards were circulated round a sushi bar within the shipping container venue where visitors selected cards and wrote their responses to the drivers.
 
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The image I took in Worli, Mumbai from the card featuring the sub-issue Livelihood Opportunity – posing the question “How do you make ends meet?”

Arup is a global engineering consultancy which has a history of employing a holistic multi-disciplined approach in engineering design. With a global staff of over 10, 000 Arup provides an array of services for the built environment sector including engineering, design, project management and consultancy. Notable projects include the Sydney Opera House, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, CCTV headquarters in Beijing, Casa da Música in Porto and 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin) in London.

I feel the Drivers of Change cards are a relevant tool for curating conversations as are other sets such as the Method Cards by IDEO. By breaking groups out of linear thinking they engage minds in a participatory manner and are more likely to gather a brainstorm of deep insights than a passing shower of shallow talk.

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Last week I received a box set of Drivers of Change cards from Arup's Foresight and Innovation team in London. They are part of an on-going research programme exploring those issues most likely to have a major impact upon society. Some time back they had requested an image I had photographed to be included in [...]