Category Archives: Think

Thoughtful engagement, deep reflection, intellectual or academic topics

Worldbuilding: A Workshop on Shared Futuring

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DwD presents a series of session this Autumn based on methods taught in Strategic Foresight and Innovation and now further explored in student research in narrative visioning practices. Maheen Zaidi presents a workshop for September on exploring futures through and worldbuilding. She explores three main questions:

  • Can the resurgence of science fiction narratives help us create a better society and social systems?
  • How can worldbuilding help us in designing practices for community and large system transition?
  • Can we combine worldbuilding and foresight practices such as backcasting to better inform system design?

Over the past few years, an ongoing battle for the future of science fiction has plagued the literary community, and the crux of the problem was this: the genre was undergoing social change to better reflect the world’s diverse values and voices, and not everyone agreed that it should. Not only was this conflict a missed signal for the resurgence of social populism (and the Trump presidency), it raised concerns about who and what is informing society’s visions of the future, and what the implications of those visions are.

Though we can find science fiction at the root of most (if not all) of our technological accomplishments, it does not inspire society to adopt the moral and ethical lessons it imparts. As a result, we’re captivated by Orwell’s telescreens and Crichton’s Jurassic Park, but fail to act upon their warnings about mass surveillance or unchecked entrepreneurship. So where is the disconnect? Why is science fiction not leading the charge on informing transition and systemic design?

This Design with Dialogue workshop will introduce a model that tests if science fiction narratives and practices can help build better systems. The workshop will include an exercise that examines the fictional worlds in stories such as 1984 and Brave New World. We’ll also use the model to imagine a new society with more sustainable systems that are designed with a civilizational timescale in mind.

From this workshop, you can expect to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the relationship between science fiction, systems, and foresight
  • Use a new model that has implications for systemic design
  • Learn about transition design as it relates to systems

Register on Eventbrite for this session.

About the Host

Maheen Zaidi

Maheen is co-founder of The Innovation Shop, a design consultancy in Toronto. She specializes in strategic foresight, transition design, and narrative design. She is completing a Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University, and has an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from York University. Her thesis explores the intersection of civilizational foresight, transition design, and science fiction.

A staunch believer that language is a critical medium of design and that foresight should be ambient, Maheen is a science fiction writer. In her previous life, she was a marketing executive who worked with multi-nationals, startups, and scale-ups to build brand equity.

 

 

Deliberating on Values in Digital Democracy

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The July DwD hosted a mixed group of designers, curious citizens and community activists to engage in the inquiry and workshop Exploring Values in Digital Democracy. The primary purpose of the workshop was to explore questions of values and positions openly to inform the design of the Nova Agora prototype and contribute to new model of digital citizenship.  The focal questions for the session were:

  • How might we better address policy disputes through citizen-led democratic practices?
  • How can we deliberate in democratic processes through sharing values?
  • How can we better employ “digital citizenship” to understand values commitments we may share in common?

Rationale. Today, adherents of mainstream political parties are unable to even speak with one another about issues of critical importance to their collective futures. Policy controversies, such as debates on globalization, abortion, or immigration, have polarized to become intractable disputes.  A lack of diversity or mobility, filter bubbles, social media echo chambers, and targeted advertising amplify this polarization. Digital feedback reinforces entrenched positions. Then, the more positions polarize, the more a simple policy controversy moves towards policy conflict and ruptured public discourse.

Approach. Jenny Whyte and Natalija Fischer facilitated July’s DwD with a workshop, a process and prototype. They presented Nova Agora, a citizen’s digital service and research platform, designed as a peacebuilding tool to deconstruct policy disputes by reframing how issues are expressed and interpreted, from positions to values, thereby facilitating connection, catharsis, and understanding.

The workshop was open for any citizens interested in fostering respectful discourse, self-awareness, and moral based reasoning. Participants engaged in several activities designed to draw out and deliberate on the values important in political decision making (specifically the set advocated by Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind from moral foundations theory). Values and political positions were explored through dialogue, embodied acting, and small group work.

 

Patricia Kambitsch sketched the summaries and process as seen in the final story map.   (Click to enlarge)

 

People were asked to visit the Nova Agora site in advance of the session and take the survey on positions or the survey on values.  Both of these resources remain open and available for others to review and the design team would welxome further feedback and insights on the process.

Nova Agora Team

Natalija Fisher  – natalija@nasagora.org, MSc Water Resources Management, UNESCO-IHE

Natalija has worked on freshwater protection across government, non-profits, and start-up systems.  Internationally, she facilitates youth inclusion at global events like the Budapest Water Summit and the World Water Forum.

Most recently, Natalija has launched two peace-building initiatives.

 

 

 

Jenny Whyte – jenny.c.whyte@gmail.com, Strategic Foresight and Innovation, MDes

Using the design tools learned in the SFI program she aims to tackle wicked with a human-centered approach.

She is currently winding up to defend her thesis exploring how better understanding ‘the self’ might encourage social change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Designing Places & Spaces for New Learning

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  • How might Youth Spaces in the education system support student goals and aspirations?
  • What can we do better having learned from observing decades of Toronto’s alternative schools?
  • How might we redesign an educational system that better serves all students and families in the city?

A recent student project in Strategic Foresight & Innovation proposed a system design for new modes of learning for disadvantaged youth in the GTA.  They presented their altSPACES study as a visual story of the social system, with a participatory design dialogue to engage further into these possibilities.

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Kelly

Live sketching by Patricia Kambitsch, Playthink.

LearningPKMural

 

ABOUT THE HOSTS

Aday Sami-Oringbe and Jade Lee Hoy represented the altSPACES team, from OCADU’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation (SFI) program.

Ayomide fondly known as Aday is a designer and engineer with a commitment to user-centered design and flair for project development. Her mission is to inspire growth using design principles. Aday is currently completing her MDes in the SFI program. Prior to SFI, Aday crafted her particular expertise in liaising with multiple Project Managers and project teams, managing multimedia projects, and contributing to the design of the web and print media components.

Jade Lee Hoy is a curious wanderer whose cross-sectoral and international experiences allow for a unique creative perspective. Her work often manifests itself through the creation of spaces, whether it be public space, the creation of a new arts centre, or large scale space activations. She is an active advocate for the power of arts and culture and believes in its ability to make change. She is passionate about building meaningful and innovative partnerships across sectors and cultures. Jade has worked on large scale projects such as the Pan Am Path, Manifesto Community Projects and Festival, and the City of Toronto’s Cultural Hot Spot. Current projects include Dais (new Bell Media film hub), Intent city (summer works festival), and the Lowline (worlds first underground park).

 

 

 

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.