Category Archives: Act

Dialogues on current issues and civic engagement

Designing for Play – How to Play your Work

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In the March DwD session with Farzad Sedghipour, we explored the importance of finding play in our work through a semi-structured facilitated workshop.  Roughly 20 members of Toronto’s innovation community attended, ready to design for play. The workshop was based on Farzad’s Strategic Foresight & Innovation project,  Play to Perform: Why Play is the Future of Work

Play is one of life’s top motivators, it is fundamentally collaborative, and we have to play in creative work.

The Process

“Work and Play are words to used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.”
-Mark Twain

The DwD workshop comprised several improv games; a short-discussion defining play, what it is and is not, the creation of individual Play Personalities through a Maker’s survey, and group games exploring the future of play at work.

Defining one’s Play Personality required individuals to reflect back into their childhood experiences and remember moments when they were fully immersed in an activity for its sake.  Participants were asked to also consider times they made a difference, what made them come alive in these instances, and what animal personalities and historical/fictional characters they identified with.

The final piece of this exercise was a magazine montage, in which participants created their play personality using magazine cutouts, to help them define what personality traits and attributes characterize them when they are in a state of play.

In the second exercise, we explored jobs many would consider “mundane” or “boring” – call center operator, assembly line worker, retail etc. –  and how we as managers might help our employees find more play within them.  We talked about how Toyota for example, injects play into manufacturing work through their Kaizen culture, which encourages employees to take ownership of continuous improvement initiatives and processes.  We talked about how a call center might “playify” its work to A/B test various strategies, while enabling staff to have fun and produce more great work.  In general, we talked about how managers can give employees more agency and control over how they do their work, in order to cultivate a play mindset in their employees.

Rank your top 2 drives to play are:

  • The Joker: loves nonsense, and practical jokes as an adult
  • The Kinesthetic: needs to move (to think); loves being in their body: dance, swim, yoga, walk
  • The Explorer: Actively seeks out new experiences, be they physical, mental, or emotional
  • The Competitor: loves playing games to win, to be number 1
  • The Director: Enjoys planning and executing scenes and events. Born organizers, party givers; the world’s a stage and we are all players in the director’s game
  • The Collector: Have and hold the most, best, and most interesting objects: coins, toys, wine, shoes, ties, videos, music etc. can be solitary or social
  • The Artist/Creator: The maker, including painting, woodworking, pottery, and sculptor.. more recently, the programmer/developer
  • The Storyteller: Imagination is the key to this kingdom; novelists, playwrights, cartoonists, and screenwriters; Performer of magic tricks, lectures, dance and actingLeading with a play mindset is what creative entrepreneurs and master crafts people do explained Farzad, because for them, play is the work they would do even if no one required them to do it.

A few key insights that emerged were:

  1. Employing sensory props such as smelly markers, jelly beans, and balloons can nudge participants in more vividly recalling their childhood experiences,
  2. More opportunities to learn about the neuroscience and theory of play,
  3. and facilitate mad libs and co-creations to inspire more play-led activities.  

All great suggestions to think about, for how else could one consistently perform with vitality, creativity, and skill, without play.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Farzad is an economist and a futurist who is passionate about strategy and organizational design, play, and the future or work.  He thinks systematically and behaviourally to help clients find innovation opportunities between diverse values and interests. Farzad’s past experiences include 8-years’ leading economic research, organizational development and business design, and strategic-foresight projects for the private and public sector. He holds a M.A. in Economics & Finance and a MDes in Strategic Foresight & Innovation.

 

Envisioning the Future of Toronto’s Public Lands

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Can we ecologize Toronto’s green lands and watersheds? Can we enhance access and inclusion of cultural uses of our parks, common places and spaces? How might we recover, restore, reimagine or rewild Toronto’s public lands?

Toronto’s urban planning team has been comprehensively revising its downtown planning – the DwD engagement held a session to cocreate citizen proposals for the Toronto Parks and Public Realm Plan as part of TOcore: Planning Downtown.

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Unify Toronto Dialogues held its October session with the TOCore team, voicing indigenous perspectives on decolonizing the common lands and stewarding ecological restoration.  Following a presentation on the city’s regional public lands plan, over a dozen indigenous community members spoke up with visions and concerns for:

  • Restoring the native flora ecologies and balance of the Humber and Ontario shoreline waters
  • Opening up the ravines and public open space to urban farming and renewing healthy soils
  • Restoring and enabling the fish ecologies of Ontario, a lake that once teemed with indigenous freshwater fish
  • Ensuring indigenous access to land for ceremony, fire circles, and councils.

 

The live sketch (thanks Patricia) shows one of the maps of discussion and questions raised by particpants during this session.

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Sustainable Design for Flourishing Fashion

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How do we build trust in a complex multi-stakeholder relationship where the product is based on price?

Apparel matters.  We wear clothes throughout our life, yet little thought is given to modern garment making except for the cost. Despite well-meant laws, international trade policies, and CSR audit reporting, a mistrust gap exists between makers and end users on whether garments are sweatshop-free, endorse fair trade, or are relatively more or less sustainable. The session explored the systems of production and disposal of Catholic school uniforms, which bear a unique responsibility to their buyers to ensure equity and sustainability. Uniforms are mandated and bought by individual families have little say in ensuring that the people who made their clothes have worker equity and safety.

Kelly Okamura organized this design inquiry into sustainable product design held at Nuvango Gallery for the April 2016 DwD.  With a group of 25 particpants and industry stakeholders, we took a deep dive into what she calls Flourishing Fashion. The group explored the problem of how to build product trust and ensure that mandated school uniforms  – first purchased through a tendered bid process that includes CSR policy – are made with worker equity.

Kelly-uniform

Contemporary ethical garment making is difficult and the garment industry is extremely competitive. It’s very hard to make a profit if you do it right – made with worker equity and respect for the planet throughout the entire process. Buying garments in a transparent global market is equally tough when mistrust has been built based on evidence that is hearsay. And for mandated Catholic school uniforms, this make-take relationship compounds when a wearer doesn’t have a choice to vote with their purchasing dollars or mindlessly buy fast fashion.

Don Officer followed up with Kelly with a brief interview following the event.  Kelly describes in her own words what “flourishing fashion” represents:

“Flourishing Fashion addresses the desire to make sell and buy in a modern world where our purchasing choices impact living beings and planet. It addresses a major systemic equilibrium shift that impacts all of us as consumers of goods. In this broad sense, the reference to fashion is not just about clothing but fashion is a reflection of our times. It requires a new systemic understanding for the need to support more 3P (Profit with respect for People and Planet) goods for a finite planet if we want humanity to flourish.”

Q: As far as you know, who accepts and values that notion?

They identify as the fastest growing consumer group – the Aspirationals – who still want to buy ‘fashion’ but want to know their product’s origin and are willing to pay more for products that better align with their ethical values.

Q: Why should we care? 

We all wear clothes and make purchasing choices.  If we all keep buying stuff, consumers responsibility begins with purchasing goods, and we all have to better understand our roles as consumers in the purchasing system.

Q: Did you find the DwD group curious about flourishing fashion?

Since we all consume the immediate understanding is we are all active participants, not observers so the dialogues were engaging even if the wicked problem focused on mandated school uniforms. It was challenging to contain the dialogue and even bring the session to a timely close. The discussion continued after the event with both participants and later with others who expressed interest in future dialogues on the subject but did not attend.

Q: How did they engage on the topic? 

I showed a short film clip to create a personal awareness that most consumers don’t think beyond the price tag about of their purchases. So the attendee engagement was both on a conceptual level with the wicked problem focused on mandated school uniforms as well as on more personal relationships with their clothing.  For example, pointing out other required information on all textile products prompted some attendees to look up information on the clothes they wore to the session.  Stephen, my session collaborator, gained insight on information beyond the price tag, and began looking at clothing in a more informed way even before the DwD session took place.

Q: Did you detect any consensus or streams of thought?

There wasn’t consensus on a solution for the wicked problem presented.  But that’s understandable since our small group dialogues focused on segments of the apparel loop. On reflection, comments noted when we reconvened in full circle, could be encapsulated as a need for transparency. And generally, the take-away was a greater understanding there are no easy answers to establishing trust in global supply chains.  As individuals, attendees recognized more clearly how we are all active consumers in the modern apparel system.

Q: What was your biggest takeaway? 

My biggest take-away was a confirmation that consumers are interested in being more informed about their purchasing choices beyond the price tag. Apparel is a useful metaphor for our consuming habits and validating the high ratio of consumers who are not indifferent to the impact that their purchasing makes once they are informed, matters. I also immediately gained great content for my gooderGoods podcast #14 – Mis-Trust. You can hear it on rabble.ca or on soundcloud.  Note the visual for Mis-Trust was not a piece of clothing but the case of water purchased for the event.

Q: How might FF relate to design thinking? 

Fashion is an applied art. Design thinking is outcome driven vs. purely creative thought.  Often fashion is considered frivolous or on an esthetical level but for most of us, the retail price is a constraint to sell through or textile waste.  And combined with a respect for people and planet make it a wicked problem that is solvable but requires an equilibrium system shift.  Solutions to parts can contribute to the problem but to scale it needs greater accountability throughout the system that includes with consumers. Educating consumers on both their power and how they contribute to keeping the status quo is an important part of creating the shift.  That’s why I’m chasing Flourishing vs. Sustainable Fashion.  We want to continue to make sell and buy desirable products with holistic growth NOT sustain the purchasing process we have now.

Q: Where might the FF transformation come from? 

I love Frances Westley’s insight that change is hard but can also happen in the blink of an eye.  With clothing, it is something that literally touches us daily, and we are generally in control of what we choose to purchase, or not.

 

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See the recent event on Fair Labour and the Living Wage with Kelly Okamura and Auret van Heerden at The Fashion Institute of Technology, March 2016.

 

 

 

Idea Convener – Kelly Okamura 

ko

Kelly is a product designer and design strategist who is exploring the opportunities for flourishing business thinking in the fast-moving world of fashion and textiles. She is currently investigating the complexity of the purchasing system to provide solutions for transformative change. You can check out her gooderGoods podcasts on conscious consumption at rabble.ca or Soundcloud.

 

Acting in Networks of Influence

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How we can ground our work concretely, by considering multiple stakeholders that may influence project outcomes?

How do we get a handle on who, or what, influences the changes that occur in situations?

What are the formal links that are present? What are the informal links? What are the unknown links?

Stephen Sillett’s workshop takes us from stakeholder inquiry to social network appraisal to network fusion. Starting with an experiential embodied group warm up, we transitioned into a “Calabash” fire exercise (Calabash is an African cooking pot) for awakening collective imaginations.

Stephen will work from and share details of his work with different cultures and environments, and how drama and theatre process can powerfully reveal the differences and commonalities across lived experiences. Stephen has developed these practices in working with the CrossGEN: Connecting Across Age and Culture project, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and developed in the Niagara region. This project laid the foundations for the Network Weaving approaches that Aiding Dramatic Change in Development (ADCiD) has engaged since 2011.

Exploration and coaching in Clean Language inspired deliberation to unpack questions and ideas around the meaning of “influence” and networks of influence.

Idea Convener

ssillettStephen Sillett is co-executive director of Aiding Dramatic Change ~ in Development (ADCID), and helps the organization research, facilitate and direct dialogue, drama and art processes for healing and community development. Through ADCID projects and in partnership with other social actors, he is exploring approaches that engage community members in conversations, consciously orientated to maturing visions of the future. Research interests include the facilitation of non-verbal and spatial meaning-making practices within group workshop and the creation of interactive performance. He directs InFusion Labs where theatre artists, therapists, scientists and social practitioners explore spatial approaches to exploration and discovery.

 

The Possibility of Creating Community

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What’s the potential for Design with Dialogue as a true Community of Inquiry? How could we all co-create this together this year?

The first DwD of 2016 was convened by Peter Jones (dialogue) and Patricia Kambitsch (visual), held with a group of 20 new and continuing participants drawn to the shared inquiry into the possibility of community. The session was guided by several questions about the meaning of and stake in community.

The dialogue opened with acknowledgement and mapping of the communities we participate in, as shown in the sketched map, people placed notes in the spaces for Business, Religion, Regional, Neighborhood, Health & Fitness, Arts, Civic, Academic, and new communities such as “Value” and “Place”. Discussion in the circle revealed the differences in views of community and the level of engagement that counts to be considered a “community.”

CommunityMap.smThe dialogue dived into the meaning of the Design with Dialogue community to its ongoing stakeholders. DwD has evolved from 2008 to today into a deeply connected, ongoing Community of Practice for learning and facilitating with tools for social and organizational transformation. Our central question for the evening was essentially, who are we a community and why are we? Do we only support and engage with these communities outside of DwD, or is there a centre of life and practice here, a community that continues in its own purpose, even if undeclared by most of us?

What’s the potential for Design with Dialogue as a true Community of Inquiry? 

A visual mapping of the dialogue was sketched live during the conversation, as people responded to the question of community as:

PlayMuralJan16-sm

 

  • Place for the power of dialogue
  • Bringing groups (stakeholders) in to DwD to dialogue on an issue
  • Finding meaning in discourse
  • Seeds for new stories
  • Getting unstuck, and “dialogue as therapy”
  • Listening beyond these walls
  • Developing a common language and different perspectives

The group inquiry process adapted Peter Block’s six conversations on community.Variations of the questions asked each particpants to inquire and share their experience with:

  • What’s your story? What’s your commitment to the group or its purpose?
  • What gift do you bring? How do you lead or form the community?
  • What have you been unwilling to commit to?
  • What refusal have you withheld in your community?

These expressions were shared in the whole group and mapped (to the right) in the mural.

The final process developed a core set of responsibilities that lend group wisdom toward the DwD 2016 plan for co-creation and community engagement.

Together we the potential to engage and influence thinking and action in the crucial concerns of our time. Given this potential, how might we most effectively contribute to the civic issues and policy thinking in our larger communities?

Floorsketch

DwDPossibility