Tag Archives: design thinking

Business Model Innovation for Social Entrepreneurship

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How can social organizations thrive in a post-funding society?

A special innovation circle session was held with Maya Roy and the Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto.  Through turbulent economic times, Maya and staff leadership grew a team of committed members and made the organization a successful NGO for helping new families settle into Toronto. With impending budget cuts, they are faced with an immediate need to change their business model from a publicly supported service to a social entrepreneurial model.

York University’s Antony Upward presented the “Strongly Sustainable” Business Model Canvas (an innovation of the BMG canvas) the framework for group ideation and collaborative design. In large and small group sessions, the group explored innovation of business and revenue models, service provision, new relationships and communications channels.  As the first public unveiling of the research and design of the  “strongly sustainable” business model, we gained valuable and practical feedback on the applications of the new approach.

Generating one group’s model based on its “What If” starting point (orange label).

Sharing the group’s model with the whole and Antony collecting and aggregating the unique values of each in a common map.

This was the first public application of the Strongly Sustainable Business Model Canvas – and most of the participants were unfamiliar even with Alex Osterwalder’s original Business Model Canvas. Therefore, even with all having watched Alex’s videos and our handout materials, we found the session required a significant degree of education in the methods. The SSBM Canvas is not a tool that can be applied “out of the box” but requires context setting and some training in the concepts.

May Roy shared her experience with the process in terms of outcomes for Newcomers:

The use of the expanded canvas allowed NEW staff, volunteers and members plan though how the organization will continue to innovate in the next 3 years. We used the DWD session and day long strategy sessions to discuss, argue, debate and sometimes cry over the challenges and opportunities inherent in a time of economic restructuring.

Designing a Future for our Future: Personal Foresight

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Get ready for The Multiplicity.

This workshop engaged participants to co-create multiple personal futures in large and small group collaboration. This social design experiment in personal foresight generated the creation of possible personal scenarios for the challenging next-future term possibilities. We started by creating a personal profile for the Low Tech Social Network. Communities listed on the profiles were shared in the closing circle to co-create a living network among the participants.

An amazing array of participants were involved, suggesting that DwD is reaching beyond its business + creatives + designerly roots. More and more people from dedicated social change communities are engaged and returning. While businesses can benefit from and afford these creative group processes, social change agents need to learn from each other. A community across communities is forming.

The event was framed by the question of considering the multiple futures we have choice to create. When we think of the future, we tend to push a vague collection of dreams, possibilities and wishes out to a speculative point in the years following the nearest term. We can guess about the world in two years, we can plan for 5 years, but 10 and 20 years challenge personal vision. Our concept was to confront the future opportunities for humanity, by learning to position our own inherent multiplicities as creative narratives to counter a technologically-determined future, whether a career ideal or the “singularity.”

The venue supported the creation of a circle and pairs for the exercises:

  • Values conflicts at the Crossroads
  • 3 Whys of 3 Values: Core values, Calling values, Contra values
  • Mapping Values to Actions
  • Mapping Value-Actions to future possibilities in the Pathway template

The workshop was convened by Peter Jones and Patricia Kambitsch (visual reflection) at The Design Exchange  Feb 24th in the DX boardroom as part of the Toronto Design Week Design Offsite Festival.


Play with Impact

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Play with Impact

May 2011 DwD was hosted by Zahra Ebrahim of the architecture and design think tank, archiTEXT.

“Play”….it’s the four-letter word that petrifies the establishment.  It’s messy, the process is different every time – as is the outcome – and yet, it remains the tool that best produces honest, creative, innovative, and unique results. This workshop will explore the process of using play to uncover possible solutions to issues challenging corporations, governments, and not-for-profits.Participants will be encouraged to explore the following principles in order to fully engage with the possibilities that using play to create impact can uncover

1. Play is not easy.2. Play is difficult.3. Play is necessary.4. Play is not frivolous.

Zahra is the Principal, Partner, and Founder of the architecture and design think tank, archiTEXT.  Zahra has spent the last two years as Innovator in Residence at Canada’s National Design Museum, the Design Exchange. Ebrahim brings together diverse groups to tackle the intersections of architecture and design with social change, the environment, politics, economics, equality, health, and pop culture. Using various methods ranging from curation to public engagement to conceptual art, she engages a broad spectrum of the public across the country in design discourse.

Globe and Mail article or video

Design Thinking…What is it really?

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Even my mom is reading about “Design Thinking” in the newspaper, which means it’s gone mainstream. But aside from being a term that empowers designers to act in the business realm and vice versa….what does it REALLY mean? Who is doing an incredible job of defining it? Who is really doing it? Who can explain it in layman’s terms without using the term “design”?

Roger Martin‘s recent presentation on the subject:

Here’s Humantific‘s perspective: