Are you Good for Nothing?

What happens when you bring designers, social scientists, developers, innovators, hackers, do-gooders (the list continues) together under one roof for 48 hours? Amazing things, that’s what!

Good For Nothing

The fab GoodForNothing team organised a weekend of problem solving to help three very worthy causes – Bletchley Park, GnewtCargo and FoodCycle. Each enterprise is functioning but has it’s own set of challenges which meant they could really benefit from this type of help – a problem shared is a problem halved, right?

I took part in the event to meet new, interesting people, to collaborate, share my experiences of innovation and be inspired. I can happily say that all the boxes were ticked. Firstly, the space used, Splendid in Shoreditch was perfect for this type of event; a very trendy, spacious warehouse style studio with plenty of break out areas and wall space to throw up our inspiration and ideas! It was typical that it happened to be a beautifully, sunny weekend but luckily being in a light, airy space compensated for it!

With my ‘People’s Kitchen’ hat on, I joined the FoodCycle team. You could say I joined the People’s Kitchen competitor but in the true spirit of social innovation it meant I could learn, share my experiences and have an invested interested. We, at the People’s Kitchen really respect FoodCycle and we are more than happy to see them thrive.

The aspect of this type of event that I find incredibly interesting is how people, potentially strangers work together. The nature of the challenges and people that came along meant the there was research to do and importantly to work out who had what skills. This was a fairly natural element to divide up; those that could, did, those that wanted to, made it known and those that confident yet unassuming were able to move around groups and input where needed.

The other thing I took away was the collaboration between groups. It would be easy to enter the event assuming it was a type of competition between the three challenges but everyone was keen to see the other groups do well too. A quick shout out for a particular skill saw people move around groups and difficult tasks well managed.

The outcomes of the three challenges can be seen here – but for me, it wasn’t simply seeing a challenge solved, seeing a website improved, seeing a new service designed or finding out who was the best animator, it was about seeing how everyone collaborated for 48 hours. It was unusual for me to attend a ‘social design’ event like this one and not know anyone else there. That was refreshing as it opened my eyes to some of the types of people wanting to make a difference. It also shows that a well balanced team with non-designed included makes a fantastic team because everyone is tackling the challenge with a different point of view. We also acknowledged that research was necessary to gain a deeper understanding of the challenge (our group went to the FoodCycle café in Cambridge to interview people there), a strategy needed to be agreed to frame the approach we were going to have (the current strap line was important to understand) and working out how we could engage with more people, change consumers perceptions and use appropriate language were essential for FoodCycle to continue being a success and expand.

I highly recommend giving up a weekend to take part in the GoodforNothing event. Embrace it, give it all the creativity you have and you’ll come away exhausted but very satisfied.

See photos in the blog post below….

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!?