Finally, an exciting employee engagement scheme!

Ecoinomy, the web start up founded by sustainability guru, John Grant has launched! Using employee engagement, service design and exciting innovation, Ecoinomy’s ‘eco.system’ rewards employees for actions they haven’t taken. The employees are then financially rewarded, communities are formed, employees gain a sense of achievement and motivation and the company saves money by saving energy.

You have to love win, win situations – the environment wins, the employee wins and the company wins!

I could write about this for hours but instead I recommend watching the launch video. It is great to see a famous dragon on board too to help spread the word!

For more information, go to the corporate website

Inspired by children

The Design Council’s Water Design Challenge has given me the opportunity to work with pupils at a secondary school to help them understand how design can be used to reduce their water consumption.

Today was a kick off session with the pupils to discuss the findings they had discovered from doing an audit on the school’s water consumption. Maybe I was a little naive as to what they would have discovered or maybe I am not used to working with eleven year old girls but I came away really impressed and inspired.

We discussed water consumption in general to get them thinking more broadly than water use at the school and when showing them the virtual water chart, one girl boldy told me that ‘we should not worry about the amount of water in meat production as animals are treated badly, not given enough water to live on and are injected with antibiotics!’ I only had a two hour session to inspire and guide the pupils and had not prepared myself for answering comments like this!

Using the Design Council’s ‘double diamond‘ design process we were able to throw all their ideas onto the table, let the range of ideas be very broad and then see how they could be used to define the brief. I love the fact that the girls had really explored the school, noticed every single dripping tap, are concerned with families in Africa not having enough water to live and feel that this year’s school fund raiser should not be throwing wet sponges at the teachers as it is bad for the environment.

I felt so happy that girls who haven’t chosen their preferred subject route at school yet can be this passionate and knowledgeable about environmental issues. I was expecting to need to really tease ideas out of them but instead had to really work hard to make sure their ideas were captured properly.

The pupils have two weeks now to define their idea and come up with a brief that they want to develop. I’m so excited to see what update they email me on Monday so I can see how best to guide them down an effective, engaging and creative route.

Taking part in this challenge has really made me understand the power of empowering the younger generation. Give them a subject that they can relate to (I asked the pupils to list the moments when they use water in their day and one of the first ones was ‘when I go swimming’ – I hadn’t thought of that one!), add some creativity, tell some stories and they will run with it. Guideance, of course is essential to keep the ideas flowing in the right direction but the fresh minds and active brains are priceless!

My thoughts are now looking at how we can get children involved in other environmental problem solving. Has anyone considered an OpenIDEO platform for children?

Since writing this blog post I’ve read a great article about how ‘children are among the world’s most important innovators’ in Knowledge Wharton Today – worth a read!

The future of 3D printing

3D printing has featured in the press recently and it is a very exciting subject. The Economist featured an article about how 3D printing from digital designs will transform manufacturing. It is incredible how such intricate products as medical implants are now being 3D printed instead of being cut out of a block of metal allowing products to be ‘additive’ instead of ‘subtractive’. This reduces the amount of waste material created and because economies of scale are now eliminated, costs and risk are lowered. There is no longer the need to produce hundreds of thousands of items to recover fixed costs.

A friend and industrial designer in California has a business designing ‘kick ass prosthetics‘ where he uses 3D printing to create limbs and braces for people with medical conditions. He designs products it has not been possible to make previously . It means that someone who has lost a leg can now have a prosthetic leg which is a mirror image of his other leg – the leg can then be customised and made to look ‘kick ass’.

3D printing
Scott has recently been featured in a number of newspapers and gave a really interesting lecture on the subject, titled The Future of 3D Printing.

He discusses the complex shapes that can be produced and what it means for the future of medical applications.

I love his comment about the scene from the film Fight Club when Ed Norton wakes up and looks around and realises that his life is a concoction of crap he’s bought from IKEA and that it is the same as what everyone else has causing him to have a social crisis and blow up Los Angeles. Life can be different – we are able to expand the boundaries of 3D printing and use it on a small scale production. Relating back to my point about ‘additive’ material production, 3D printing is also a very efficient way of working.

From what I have seen so far on the subject, this method of manufacturing not only has less impact on the environment than ‘subtractive’ manufacturing, but it is transforming the prosthetic limb industry and creating a change in the way we design medical applications!

I’m looking forward to seeing what is next in the world for 3D printing.

Design Ambassadors profiled on the Design Council website

I have become a design ambassador for the Design Council’s Water Design Challenge.

The challenge is being run by the Design Council in connection with Southern Water and schools in the south east. The aim is to engage key stage 3 students to understand the environmental effects of water usage and use their creativity to find ways to reduce the amount they use. The ambassadors will be working with the teachers but will be there to engage with the students, help empower them, get them to be creative and promote design.

Last year Common Ground won the challenge with ‘The World’s Smallest Water Exhibition’ – a fantastic water exhibition housed inside a porta-loo!!
Common Ground

This year’s design ambassadors have a profile page on the Design Council website which explains why they believe in and why they are taking up the challenge. Have a look at the diverse range of designers getting involved: Design Ambassador Profiles

Speakers at Intersections 2011

I recommend having a look at the speaker profiles on the Intersections 2011 website. The list is increasing and I’m excited at what a great list of speakers will be at the event in March.

Anne Chick, course leader for the MA degree that I’ve graduated from is going to be part of the sustainability panel session discussing ‘The most beautiful curve is the triple bottom line. Does it make sense to be first to this market?’ I’m interested to hear what they have to say and see how they can make the discussion engaging for their audience.

Speaker profile

Seeing Anne’s prestigeous write up on the website reminds me how lucky we were to have such an influencial and inspiring tutor running the course!

The two day conference is going to look at how during global financial turmoil, political change, unprecedented cuts and local protests, we are finding ways to innovative and find sustainable solutions to the challenges of our times. The key themes are going to be:

* Business transformation
* Emerging trends in technology and design
* Sustainable design and the environment
* Social design and collaborative practices

I wonder how many of the speakers will be talking about incorporating service design into their projects/thoughts to help change our lives for the better!?