What Did We Learn From Osaka?

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imageHackOsaka wrapped up last night successfully, and defined an event which clearly marked out the first in a series of ten Design Forum. The first Design Forum is still underway with the conduct of a free online course which provides an Introduction to Design Thinking.

Given that Osaka was to provide an event to observe, the natural question to ask is “what did we learn?” Well, what did we learn?

Quite a lot, actually. There were many lessons that came from observing Osaka, especially in the context of having participated in a hackathon in Korea the week before.

Presently I am in transit back to Sydney, but once arriving I will upload a more detailed post with some more considered information that can be used to help in the first Design Forum which is focused on Designing the Design Forum.

And one postscript: if you have been hanging back on the sidelines, but would like to get more involved, it is not too late! You can still enrol in the Introduction to Human Centred Design course, and take as big or as small a part in helping to Design the Design Forum. We would love you to be part of the team!


What does it take to build a bridge?

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The commitment I made at the conclusion to the Introduction to Human Centered Design (Design Thinking) course last year. We are taking it forwards, and I hope you might join us along this epic journey!
The commitment I made at the conclusion to the Introduction to Human Centered Design (Design Thinking) course last year. We are taking it forwards, and I hope you might join us along this epic journey!

The Design Forum is an extended conversation across nine months, knitting together a series of 10 key events occurring in each of the cities where the 10 City Bridge Run wove a path. It begins with the first of these Design Forum in Osaka commencing on 9 February 2015. The Design Forum, much like any conversation, draws upon the alchemy between people to build a bridge.

We are beginning at the beginning. We will begin with a conversation. And that conversation will be both online and with people who are present in the same location. Rather than the formality of a conference, we will start with the familiarity of a conversation.

Like any conversation, there is certain etiquette but no actual rules. People can come and go as they would in real life (because this is actually real life!) Online or in person, it doesn’t so much matter. Still very much part of the conversation.

The theme of the first Design Forum is “Designing the Design Forum.” The Osaka Design Forum will be a discrete event in Osaka, and won’t conclude until a free, seven-week, online course which provides an Introduction to Design Thinking concludes.

imageSome people might want to know how they can participate when their lives are busy and can’t afford seven weeks. That is completely understandable. I will be posting my notes from the Design Thinking course online in a weekly post, and so people can feel engaged even if this is only vicariously. Everyone’s contribution and questions would be very welcome at any time no matter how much time you can spare.

Seven weeks is a long time! Yes, the Design Forum in Osaka can more properly be seen as taking place over two days: 9-10 February. Because the Introduction to Design Thinking course is so integral to the theme of ‘Designing the Design Forum’, it defines the duration of the first Design Forum.

Moreso, the dates align with the opportunity to submit an entry in this year’s Buckminster Fuller Institute 2015 Fuller Challenge:

The Buckminster Fuller Institute announces the dates of the 2015 Fuller Challenge. Each year, BFI awards a $100,000 prize to support the development and implementation of an integrated design solution to solve humanity’s most pressing problems. BFI invites the world’s scientists, designers, architects, engineers, planners, artists, students and entrepreneurs to enter their strategies that simultaneously solve for the systemic context underlying the problem while dynamically transforming current conditions.

We will be designing the Design Forum that will continue through Port Moresby, Glasgow, Toronto, New York, Sydney, New Delhi, Singapore, China (city TBA, but I am hoping we could return to Shanhaigaun), and concluding in Seoul. Not only designing the journey that this epic conversation will take, but making a contribution that Buckminster Fuller himself would be satisfied with.

This is not about winning prizes. If we are good, any trophies we deserve will follow. But I contend that we should be more satisfied with making a difference. We have an important question to address: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

You can sign up for the Design Forum here, and register for the Introduction to Design Thinking here.

You are invited and you can invite anyone you want. Make new friends. Open the circle. Build a bridge.

Happenstance: Then There Were Ten

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With Ellie at Oxford in 2013
With Ellie at Oxford in 2013

It was when I was in Osaka last October after completing the fourth leg of the 10 City Bridge Run that I realised the plan had to change.

Up until that time, a singular Design Forum was scheduled for the end of the journey in Seoul. The fourth leg I referred to above was part of an epic quest running 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 counties as a stunt to open a conversation asking “how might we use our networks to influence the delivery of child survival?”

It was a journey fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. Getting it started was hard enough, but at that point in Osaka, now that I had began, I found that my capacity to engage effectively on the issue while running was limited. And I knew the conversation was huge. Enormous. Not impossible, but tremendously big.

imageI thought back to some of the earlier difficulties since I committed to the task in 2010. A crowdfunding effort commenced and fell slightly short of the sum required to pay for the round-the-world plane fare to undertake this epic quest which had been called the 10 City Bridge Run. Departure was delayed until sufficient funds were gathered, injuries followed, more delays, another crowdfunding attempt in 2012 which was successful but then thwarted with a badly torn calf muscle. Even though bad, those things were happenstance.

During this time, life continued on, winding and wending its way, day by hour by week by month by year. Time marches on and waits for no man, so says the idiom.

Many supporters remained a source of amazing encouragement. A “how’s it going?” here, a “have you been training much?” there. We underestimate the significant of the quiet word of encouragement like this. Those small things in effect became the resin I needed to stick to the task.

Then in 2013, happenstance brought a chance to recommit publicly while on a leadership forum focused on the Commonwealth. Not only an opportunity to renew this commitment, but a realisation of the importance the Commonwealth brings to this discussion. You can see my good friend Ellie encouraging me to put it out there in the photo above.

Look inside...
Look inside…

Happenstance. The insight which this blog refers to came one morning in Osaka in October 2014 while trying to once again figure out my schedule. I realised that time was a resource we needed to draw upon for this conversation. Not necessarily more time, but to take more time ourselves. It would take more than one meeting in Seoul. The afternoon of that insight, I was visiting the Osaka Innovation Hub. I had searched some places I wanted to meet with on the Internet, and other than that had little idea of who I was meeting.

Happenstance is the collision of preparedness with opportunity. Meeting with key staff in Osaka, I learnt of their HackOsaka being held on 10 February 2015. Right then, I knew that would be the start point for the Design Forum, and that there would need to be not one but ten conversations.

It will be a surreal feeling when the Design Forum in Osaka comes around next week. You are welcome to join us too. Go on, partner with us in this conversation. Create your own happenstance by turning up.

Osaka: Design Forum 1

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IMG_0906The first of a series of Design Forum addressing a question: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?” will be convened in Osaka on 9-10 February.

You are invited to participate, no matter how far away from Osaka you might live.

It is free to attend. You can register here.

On 9 February, join us in person or online at one of a number of scheduled video conferences where we will frame the Osaka event as “Designing the Design Forum”.

The Osaka forum will examine what is best practice in design and in convening a gathering. How might we best build bridges that matter, how can we involve others, how can we increase collaboration?

Some key initiatives that point the way to what works can be recently observed:

  • Davos, The World Economic Forum
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Annual Letter
  • The recent ‘Your Turn Challenge’ from Seth Godin and his capable coworker Winnie
  • and there are many other examples, and we want you to help explore this list and determine what we can learn, what we can replicate, and what we can take away.

It will be a humble beginning, wedded to a Acumen Fund/IDEO free, online, seven-week course to introduce the process of Design Thinking. Get involved with the course here.

10 February will be experiential by participating in HackOsaka to examine first-hand a hackathon in a different culture and language from that which most of us speak and know. Many people have been part of a hackathon at some point, but the big question will be how do we extend this to a context which out of necessity builds bridges with the other?

Child survival is the core issue, but this first Design Forum in Osaka will be about process. I hope you can be involved too!