Human Centered Design

Blueprint For Change

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imageWhy bother? I mean, can’t we all just sit back and relax now? Isn’t the crisis over?

In their Annual Letter published this year, Bill and Melinda Gates set the scene by betting that there would be greater progress to end extreme poverty than in the previous 15 years. And they are probably right. All indications point toward this as an outcome, and their keen interest over the last 15 years would suggest that this is actually a well-tested assumption rather than an idle wager.

Progress is good, and the message from Bill and Melinda Gates is positive. Are we out of the woods yet? Does that mean the crisis is over?

The 2014 Bill and Melinda Gates Annual Letter framed the issue of child mortality as one of three key areas where they sought to dispel myths that they rightly claim are held about addressing global poverty. At the beginning of the document, they wrote how they were “disgusted” by child mortality.

Other people have used equally strong language. Tony Lake the Executive Director of UNICEF described child mortality in 2012 as a “moral obscenity” and a “moral abomination”.

What does this mean for the 10 City Bridge Run, a citizen-led initiative to open a conversation asking “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?” Is the war over, and we didn’t hear the news? Isn’t it all over bar the shouting? After all, Bill and Melinda Gates have spoken.

We should see the current situation as the end of a beginning, and the beginning of the end. We are now riding the waves of change. There has never been a more critical time to convene the Design Forum which will unfold this conversation about child survival than now. There is political will, institutional interest, a wealth of information, technology and the ability to communicate is better than ever, and along with increasing developments in medicine and infrastructure.

The Design Forum is not a silver bullet. And in a relative sense, together we are a minnow in an ocean of information and activity. But we are part of a much larger connected effort. And that is why this is important as a conversation. We have a real part to play, and as that conversation takes shape, it will become more obvious where we can best effect change.

The Design Forum which will commence in Osaka on 9 February is a blueprint for change for improving child survival. We are not reinventing the wheel, but drawing upon the experience and networks of others to amplify our intention. And we need your voice to help make that possible.

The Dali Lama has a quote which I like:

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, then try sleeping with a mosquito.”

We are about to begin the series of Design Forum. You can join in at any time, but why not begin with us at the beginning. We are starting by asking how might we Design the Design Forum. This will be an event in Osaka to draw upon best practice, and examine how we can organise to be effective in making a difference. The first Design Firum in Osaka convenes concurrently with an Acumen Fund/IDEO free online, seven-week course which provides an introduction to Design Thinking. You can get involved. You will make a difference. So why not sign up? It is all free.

Sign up for the Introduction to Design Thinking here.

Sign up for the Osaka Design Forum here.

Looking forward to seeing you on the journey!

On Becoming A Designer

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imageThe Design Forum for the 10 City Bridge Run commences with getting equipped with the tools we are going to need for the journey ahead. The tools are about our networks, our creativity, and importantly engaging with those for whom this problem of child survival is a real and present issue. Additionally, one key tool is the process of Design Thinking using a framework of Human Centred Design.

Design Thinking is not new. It has been around for decades, if not centuries, but more recently it has been made more useable through the work of people like IDEO. There has been a revolution in design which focuses on the user, or the person with the problem.

The commencement of the first Design Forum aligns with a free, online, seven-week course run by the Acumen Fund and IDEO which I am inviting you to participate in to help frame the series of Design Forum. The course can be done through examining any design challenge, but I am proposing that people join to help address the question framing the 10 City Bridge Run: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

Here’s how to get involved. It’s simple, and you can do it without needing any special qualifications:

  1. Register here, or drop me a note saying you want to participate.
  2. Join or form a small group of between 2-6 people where you live, or work with me and others online for the conduct of the course. If you are forming a small group, you could meet in a coffee shop once a week. And if you are joining me online, I’ll make a schedule when we can connect by video-conference or Skype, or some other way to collaborate.
  3. Follow the course across the seven weeks exploring this question: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?” as together we work to ‘Design the Design Forum’.

At the end of the course in early April, not only will we have framed how these Design Forum might play out culminating in Seoul in October, but you will also receive a certificate to prove to the world that you have in fact become a Designer.

That is a worthwhile achievement for 2015! Please accept the invitation, and join us to frame the Design Forum.

There is no limitation on attendance. Please forward this link to others, and please especially ask them to join with us as we look at this question of improving child survival. Thanks in advance!

Learning From Experience

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imageDon’t reinvent the wheel. Improve upon what already exists. Collaborate with others to find better solutions.

This is the spirit of the Design Forum that will unfold commencing in Osaka mid-February across a nine month period to address a question we are asking: “how might we use our networks to improve e delivery of child survival?”

We have begun already, and you are not too late to get involved. Presently, the Davos World Economic Forum is being held discussing some big ideas, among which includes issues like child survival. We can gain insights from those conversations, but perhaps more importantly get a perspective of what makes a good forum by observing Davos. And that is the role of the Design Forum in Osaka: to deconstruct what we know so we can find the best way of having a conversation that matters.

The Design Forum began with a simple idea in 2010 that would be highlighted through a crazy and epic running stunt. The stunt is behind us now, but we take it with us as it gives a thread of narrative to give a meaningful connection between the cities where the Design Forum will take place.

An invitation to be part of the Design Forum will be sent out later today. It will be free to attend, and you don’t need to travel to Osaka. The formal part of the first Design Forum will take place across a three day window, but you needn’t be involved for the whole time. How you ‘attend’ and contribute is up to you. We want your ideas and input.

Right now, please sign this petition for Julie Bishop. It is asking her to be our official Champion to highlight the Design Forum. We will deliver this after the second Design Forum in Papua New Guinea. I have written to her already requesting her to be our Champion. With so many other responsibilities, it is understandable that she might wish us well, but decline, and that is ok. We will then ask again after the third, fourth, fifth, and so on Design Forums.

By asking again and again, we are actually opening a conversation rather than trying to wear her down to relent. And so the objective will be for her involvement in some manner at the final culminating Design Forum in Seoul in October this year. Everything else is part of the conversation, and that is very important too.

Please visit, sign and share: https://www.change.org/p/the-hon-julie-bishop-mp-champion-the-global-series-of-design-forum-to-improve-child-survival

Lesson Seven. We underestimate the influence of our encouragement

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IMG_1687Crowdfunding might at first appear to be an exercise in raising money, but it has far greater utility to shape a conversation, test an idea, raise awareness, and build networks.

The willingness of people to support something that is risky and uncertain shows a real spirit of generosity. Without this support, together we could not have reached this point that has enabled us to look ahead to the journey that follows.

Every dollar raised has had a meaningful impact on this initiative. 137 supporters since 2010 have together contributed less than $12,000. This has been critical to develop this idea and commence the journey to this point. Every supporter deserves an individual special note of thanks here for making this possible.

More often than not, we underestimate the influence of our encouragement. Even seemingly insignificant actions such as ‘liking’ a post on Facebook, offering advice, or just checking in with a friendly word of encouragement, are all actions that have a big impact.

This might seem trivial, but it is not. More importantly. it shows that small interventions might be among those actions that are most important which we can do through our networks to improve the delivery of child survival. What are those interventions? The Design Forum will seek to identify those meaningful interventions that can lead to lasting impact.

Please, never underestimate the power of your encouragement. For everyone who played their role to date, thank you very much. Your support has had a huge impact on me personally, and together enabled us to weave this epic journey.

Lesson Six. Take the pressure off and change the conversation

Lesson Eight. Keep moving forward

Lesson Five. Get people to ask why

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IMG_1461Why is this stunt important at all? Why not just give up if it is too difficult in the face of another setback?

The universal response is that the stunt captures people’s imagination. The fact that it is difficult and we are now facing further setbacks is part of the narrative that captures the imagination. If we were to give up now, what would that say about our conviction that change is possible to improve the delivery of child survival?

The first question people always ask when the stunt is explained is: “why?”

This is a very important question for people to ask for opening a conversation. It is a question asking for motive. Through explaining the stunt, I have opened countless conversations about improving child survival because people are drawn to ask why I am doing the runs. Admittedly, a more substantial conversation is needed to improve the delivery of child survival, and this will be achieved through the series of Design Forum.

Many conversations are with people who have never really given much thought to the issue about child survival. Other conversations have enabled engagement with a thriving community of people already engaged in addressing issues related to child survival. Through generating interest from this stunt, the 10 City Bridge Run seeks to bridge these two groups during the series of Design Forum.

Opening the conversation is critical to having impact. The photo-essay of human bridges featured in the book ‘Life Bridge’ which crowdfunding to date has helped fund will further open this conversation as a segue between the running stunt and the Design Forum which follow. But first, we have to allow people to ask why.

Lesson Four. Lead by example by learning

Lesson Six. Take the pressure off and change the conversation

Lesson Four. Lead by example by learning

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IMG_0378Leading by example is not limited to being the tough guy that gets out in front. Feedback from others has shown me that stepping out into uncertainty and beginning this journey has provided inspiration for many.

This stunt is not really about achieving impressive physical feats through running long distances. Learning to embrace vulnerability by confronting fear, uncertainty, risk, failure are the things that inspire others.

This learning is important is because it emphasises the need to embrace a ‘beginners mind’ through a ‘Human Centered Design’ thinking process which will be required during the Design Forum to be open to new possibilities in asking ‘how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?’

Learning and innovation require us to make mistakes and sometimes to fail. It is ok to fall short, as long as we are trying with the conviction to keep moving forward. Learning how to try something new is the type of leading by example that is needed for this conversation, if we are to improve the delivery of child survival.