Part of growing up, if we are lucky, is the ability to see issues from other perspectives, to develop our natural empathy and embrace the value of taking the long view. Part of growing up, if we are not lucky, is becoming more entrenched in our beliefs and approaches to problems, leaving us stuck in a rut of rote learning, craving easy answers. One way to prevent mental constipation is to keep learning, to keep challenging one’s prejudices and beliefs and continually search for new ways of being effective in the world.
In 2010 Helene and Nancy met at a workshop for Open Space Technology, a kind of facilitation that essentially turns the typical conference on its head, by putting a meeting’s participants in charge of the agenda. This technique, which is now popular under the terms BarCamp or UnConference, is a form of fundamental redesign that turns an entrenched, one-to-many experience into an opportunity for co-creation. It occurred to both of us that this is just one example of how a “typical” event can be fundamentally redesigned. What other processes could profit from redesign?
This wonderful TED talk by IDEO’s Tim Brown summarizes how a different view of design, a transition from design to design thinking, can heighten impact and offer new ways of approaching global issues:
During the Open Space training, we realized that we shared a lot of interests. For example, both of us recently went back to school, and we saw in each other’s experience and knowledge an opportunity that we wanted to explore further. The idea for a workshop was born that would combine the application of Helene’s specialty, Design Thinking, with Nancy’s focus on social and environmental Sustainability.
One goal of the workshop is to challenge participants to break out of their thinking “comfort zone,” just as we, as co-teachers, challenge each other.
Helene notes, “ I was very surprised to be challenged by a VP of a nameless corporation recently who did not understand why sustainability should be relevant to his business! I am very excited that working with Nancy on the workshop will allow us to go in depth into diverse aspects of sustainability and hopefully help others understand why is it so critical.”
Nancy admits, “ Yes, I am guilty of some of the prejudices that Tim Brown calls out in his talk: that design was about uber hip dudes in angular glasses making cool objects look nifty and more expensive. Tim’s talk and meeting Helene helped me realize that design thinking is part of the mind shift that is so essential to tackling the issues inherent in sustainability. The tools of design thinking, including ideation, prototyping and ethnographic inquiry, have opened my eyes to possible new approaches to sustainability.”
Our workshop, Design Thinking for a Sustainable World, offered over three days this March at UC Berkeley Extension, will introduce design thinking and sustainability with an eye to helping people from all disciplines become more effective change agents at a time when true, radical change is needed. But we won’t be lecturing about sustainability and design thinking…our goal is to make this a true, hands-on workshop.
As Tim Brown puts it so well, we believe that “Design will have its greatest impact when it’s taken out of the hands of designers and put into the hands of everyone.” Please join us.
Find more information and register at http://extension.berkeley.edu/catalog/course628.html.
If you have any questions regarding the workshop email nancy [at] theideahive.com or guide [at] strategicinsights.biz.
Photo: 08-12-06 © eva serrabassa via iStockphoto