Steve Howard, CSO, IKEA, Forum session @THNK

Today, January 14th, at THNK Forum session, we get to meet Steve Howard. Steve is the Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA since January 2011. He believes that Sustainability will be one of the mega trends that will shape society and  the business landscape in the next 10 years. He has worked broadly with ngo’s and businesses for climate change in the past such as World Wildlife Fund and UK Forest Stewardship.

We kick off with Karim interviewing Steve on his early career and how he got into working for the environment in the first place.

Steve founded The Climate Group in 2004 starting out as a two person start up in a small room, their Theory of Change was to reach 7 billion people through reaching the top world leaders. He tells that sometimes it took three years of networking to finally get a meeting. A lot of relentless work involved! Steve feels that the Climate Group managed to get the conversation about the climate between business and governments to become mainstream. Quite an achievement. Although of course the mission against climate change has not been achieved yet.

About his current position at IKEA, Steve says: ‘The purpose of leadership is to remind people of purpose’ and Steve is quite obsessive he says himself about getting the maximum potential of sustainable actions within the company.

steve-insta

THNK’rs question round kicks off:

Sofana asks, what do you see as the role of young people and children, in the fight against climate change?

Steve: To remind us of our responsibility!

Rachel asks about organisations and people in for example the UN she has worked with who have sometimes dissappointed her in their lack of action orientation. Rachel wants to know how Steve remains positive in the face of that.

Steve: My motto is Mission first, Organisations second, People third! When people fall into the gap of allowing either an organisation’s or a person’s needs to take priority the mission suffers. Usually you can recognise through a persons approach where their priorities lie.

Ellen J. wants to know do you stay so optimistic in the face of such huge challenges?

Steve Perhaps I am a Possibilist more than a optimist. At least that is what my son told me. Steve also hires people around him that are solution based. He feels really encouraged by the huge leaps humanity has made in bringing huge numbers of people out of dire poverty and truely believes that if we pull together, collective action, we can do this, we can establish lifestyles that are sustainable on the planet and imporving quality of life.

Jezus wants to know about the lifecycle of products, is IKEA designing furniture that will last?

Steve: Yes and no. Some products should be cheaper for the first time buyer. They don’t want them to last forever. We do want the products to be recyclable at the end of use. Other products should last very long, such as mattresses, or more heirloom potential objects.

Sharon tells that in her experience from discussions between business and social innovation, she sees 3 layers of conversation, one happening at the R&D level, one happening at the marketing level and one happening at the CSR level, she suspects that until directors give the intention to the product designers to design for sustainability. She would like to know Steve’s thoughts on this and how that works at IKEA, what is the balance of power there.

Steve has a question for us: How can IKEA effectively engage people through open-innovation, being such a big operation?

ikeabag-ed02

Karim is going to collect our ideas on this and collate them for Steve.

Jason: If you were to design a school around sustainability, what are the 5 things you would include in the curriculum?

Steve: Thanks for the easy last question 😉 Thinking intuitively, I’d include something about leadership, we need leaders, I’d include something in about history and cycles of change, how have things changed in the past. I’d include contents about how the world and nature works, so that you understand it better. Then perhaps, some more specialised modules on ngo leadership and innovation.

Co-Creation Workshop

On December 12th, 2012, 12 bright minds and 3 equally bright facilitators gathered to co-create on my start up concept, which has working title ‘Creative Mobs’
Where Design Thinking meets Flash Mobs

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The Concept

Imagine. You’re a large non-profit working on sanitation issues in urban Kenya or you’re a new phone brand wanting to move into the Bangladeshi market. You want to get a new perspective or perhaps you need the local inside story. Then you can Call the Creative Mob, there’s sure to be one in your city.  What’s Creative Mob you ask, well it’s where Design thinking meets a Flash Mob. It’s groups of local young people who have been trained in design research, creative methods and prototyping.

A Creative Mob

A creative mob is made up of young people who were previously unemployed yet motivated and living in an urban environment. Through the Creative Mob Learning Circles App, the help of local facilitators and online mentors they have developed their skills and portfolios as design thinkers, gaining badges for, for example, design research. They work both live, doing local design research and online via the Creative Mob crowd platforms creating ideas and prototypes for whatever question your organization may have.

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The Open Creative Mob System has three main tiers:

1. Learning, How to be a design thinker for Creative Mob, Resources, Mentors,
2. Mob Jobs. Linking Mobs and assignments. And to inspiration from the crowd.
3. While some local Creative Mobs are also able to develop full-scale apps or campaigns, many are not (yet). Social Design questions can be uploaded to the platform, for people and companies who want to deliver the full solution.

The overall aim of The Creative Mob: to Create Work and Value, Creatively, for the users, the design thinkers, and the clients, globally.

The Co-Creation Workshop

The aim of the workshop was to, get a feel for the potential of the concept and to gain insights into its methods. The workshop program was 5 hours long, moving from Ice breakers with found objects, then me presenting what I knew, such as my Manifesto, the basic concept so far, and my vision on creative thinking. Then we got to Envisaging the Potential in Combinations, to Drawing the Clients and Mobbers Journeys, all followed by a group think and interspersed with food breaks. Here are the Persona’s we worked with to envisage scenarios. Here is a flickr set of photos.

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So what came out?

First off, very encouragingly the feedback on the concept was very positive, ok these folks are people in my network, some of them good friends, so they would say that, yes, yet this positive feedback transpired more in the number of and variations in scenarios they came up with on how a Creative Mob could add value, to communities, non-profits, companies and in schools. For example:
‘One group came up with several possibilities where clients could use the help of creative mobs,
including market research, helping scale up small companies, marketing of new product and facilitate or host new creative spaces. Problems such as waste management or traffic could use a new creative approach, like the use of collaborative space or creating new products out of waste. Also important to note is that they imagined creative mobsters as connecters, connecting local and global and making unexpected links between existing markets.’

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Second. In three groups, the co-creators worked on: the happy flow of a based on one of the characters in the education model; how to enroll participants in Dhaka; and the ecosystem of actors in a school system who could engage with creative thinking there.

Conclusion

A viable social concept and with some business potential, sounds like a good start to me!

What’s Next?

I have noticed that before you know it, it’s down to operations, work work work, making it happen. That was a warning sign to me, that I need to first concentrate on the essence of this concept. To explore and describe the space, the space where new ways of thinking come from, the unknown potential, the moment before you choose, when you look sideways and wonder.  This difficult to describe essence is the core of the concept. I am calling this essence: Unexpect.

To Unexpect: To actively create opportunity for the unexpected. 

Thanks so much to Mercedes, Bjorn, Valentina, Eveline, Klaas, Marieke, Marije, Merel, Gerd, Kim, Kevin, Robbert, Sara, Coen and Klaas. Excellent people. More about them Here

I’m Starting an uh . . a StartUp.

Since I transitioned from Butterfly Works last July, (now on the advisory board), I have been reflecting and exploring envisaged futures.

One might think that I have been doing what I love, already for years, which is sooo true, innovative education projects in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Kenya and Uganda  and yet there has been this niggling feeling. A feeling that, I want one big idea to unify, what I love, what I’m good at and what I find important into one program. A sort of personal ‘Theory of Everything‘.

In my search, I wrote my manifesto,  drew up my conditions, (a social enterprise, scalable, globally relevant) talked to lot of people, started the THNK program, did nothing (when the most reflection happens), hung out with my children (most inspiring) and came up with 5 promising concepts.
Still I kept flip flopping as to which of these concepts I REALLY wanted to do. Plus people were asking me, so what are you doing now? To which I could only answer ‘ I’m Starting an uh . . a StartUp’

Breakthrough

Back to the drawing board. While drinking coffee with Lino Hellings, she advised me: ‘Do what you love the most and even if no one else cares, you’ll still love it’
What I love the most is the creative thinking, design research and helping others to explore their creativity. As I wrote in my manifesto I see creativity as close to divinity.

Wow!  So simple.
For years, I had been choosing what to work on, as a social innovator, on the basis of: What does the world need? and what doesn’t exist already? I had been doing things that were 60 – 70% of what I love. not bad, but now I’m taking a different starting point. Creative Thinking is the leading ingredient, What I also love contributing to is, the resilience of young people in disadvantaged circumstances and I love the potential of amplifying it all via the internet. I drew the diagram above to investigate the intersection of these 3 main ingredients and plot my concepts. My start-up will at the middle point, where the star is.

The working titel is Creative Mobs, where design thinking meets flash mobs, and on December the 12th I’m holding a Co-Creation workshop at Thnk in Amsterdam to take this concept to the next level.

Ravi Naidoo @ THNK Forum, Pockets of Excellence

Ravi Naidoo of Interactive Africa from Cape town, is our expert tonite. Usually we have our forum sessions at the THNK home at the Westergasfabriek only today everything is different.
A couple of the participants were at the Stedelijk Museum this afternoon which happens to be across the road from the hotel where Ravi is staying, one thing led to another and now we are all in the Ravi’s hotel, the Conservatorium hotel, on the third floor, with two cases of South African wine and Eric as the facilitator. We introduce ourselves, people invent a variety of new backgrounds and origins and it’s great to meet my transformed co-participants, many of whom are disaster mitigation experts from France.

Ravi kicks off with telling us that he thinks ideas are great but it all comes down to implementation. He says ‘I get up early and I pedal hard all day’


photo from kulturnett.no

Ravi leads us through what he calls a whistle stop tour of a number of amazing conceptual and visionary projects across Africa, for example the Wimpy TV ad targeted at blind people, by writing with sesame seeds in braille on burgers, the advertisement is here. Check out these young new animators – the Black Heart gang from Cape Town who have been commissioned by United Airlines to make a new adadvertisement for them. And Die Antwoord who are a fake white trash band from South Africa. called Zef Ninja Rap Rave Crew.

Now we’re into the Questions and Answers

Menno is asking about South Africa as a country, which he finds most amazing, and he wonders why Ravi even feels the need to defend South Africa and remind us of the wonderful things there. Isn’t it obvious by now?
Ravi says good question, he says what I am presenting is pockets of excellence, there is no critical mass – yet – there is not yet a body of work. And that still needs to happen. And it’s been worked on. He refers to the recent Economist cover which asks the question why is South African growth numbers lagging behind those of other sub-saharan countries. So there are some questions there.

Gunter asks where Ravi thinks the future of design lies in the South African context. Ravi says, design is not to serve as brands or a handmaid for consumption, but design to improve the quality of life. To design services for the real needs of the bottom of pyramid. Ravi has a vision where people don’t design for B2B or B2C but for Business to Community.

Tim would love to know what the new titel of World Design Capital for Cape Town means, he asks especially because Taipei is bidding for this titel for 2016 and Tim and Jason are working on this.

Jesus would like to understand Ravi’s take on what the impact of the apartheid system still is now on parts of the South African population, he makes the connection with the context in his own country Mexico where indigenous people often underperform.
Ravi says that it’s hard to underestimate the importance of confidence and when you come from a family where no one has done well or expects to do well that that is an enormous obstacle to overcome. Now Jesus is wondering if then that the Truth and Reconciliation forum was a success. Ravi says that regardless if this process was perfectly delivered that for sure the genie is out of the bottle, the issues are on the table, they haven’t brushed it under the carpet to fester as many places.

Kaz wants to know, the details, like how to you really make it happen, as in Ravi has so much charisma, how key is that charisma, basically how does he do these amazing things. Ravi says he has – after 18 years of practice – being a commercial activist, as he calls himself, he has found a sweet spot, he is an activist at heart, knows the history of his country, and is equally at home in an executive boardroom, in fact none of his projects have been subsidized by government, they are subsidized by business and corporations, he says he has a gift of understanding the business side. Ravi sees that many social entrepreneurs never get past the struggle for financing, they never get to the flow situation where you really look at, how can we make impact. Get out of the rut!

Short interlude – Did i already say that Ravi brought us 3 boxes of fabulous wine to enjoy during this forum discussion.

Sofana ask about the role of creativity, that being someone who works on elevating the role of creative industry in Saudia Arabia. Ravi says leveraging your heritage, expressing yourself, telling stories, is so important and he says, the African story has yet to be told on the world stage. As a scientist and a business man one of his main aims is to get people to pay attention to the real estate in between the ears and not the real estate under our feet.

All the names of people asking questions refer to THNK participants, you can see them here, 

Ravi now presents us a pitch of his that he wants us to get excited about, Your Street
First, Screw GDP. The world is in a rough place at the moment, and this is not a recession it’s a fundamental reframe of how we do things. So Ravi has started a movement, a call to action, called Your Street and It’s gone gangbusters. From Capetown to Chile 10 cities are running Your Street competitions are being run. People are claiming back the power.

On the way are some flame throwers and game changers and my laptop battery is dying so the last round of the evening will be online 2moro. watchy this a space. 🙂

mLearn 2102 – Mobile Learning and School transformation.

Mobile Learning and School transformation.

Brendan Tangney, professor at Trinity College Dublin, in his keynote, looked at three questions. First off, for me it’s great to be able to listen to Bernard from Trinity college Dublin, as he’s from the same city as I am.

The 1st  Question that Bernard researched is:
Can non-technies create interesting mobile AR learning apps using APP Inventor from MIT.

Their conclusion after trying, a number of fun experiments overlaying draughts (a simple form of chess) into a live game on a rugby pitch is the  answer is NO, not yet it’s too complicated.

Now Bernard is moving on to a theme closer to my heart
Designing the 21C ‘classroom’ learning experiences.

Bernard kicked off with a quote ‘Stationary desks and chairs are proof that the system at hand is propagating slavery’ Montessori. and goes on to say that that’s a pretty radical statement, but that you have to be pretty radical if you want school change.

He mentions the SAMR model for technology adoption, which they use in their work,
Transformation (redefinition and modification) vs. Enhancement

The project Bernard is doing is called Bridge 21, they get students from regular schools to come into the University, to work.  It started as an outreach project. They don’t beieve in one laptop per child model, they see laptops and technologies as shared devices. Collaborative working is central. They use a team model inspired by the scouting model, which is highly structured and from experience students adopt the team work approach very quickly but teachers find it endlessly difficult. For them it’s a revolutionary change.

Topics covered in the Bridge 21 program include multimedia making, programming and even core curriculum  maths teaching to each other. With quite some success. We see a video of students at the program and sharing their experiences on it, and students clearly report increased confidence, and good to mention that the students they are working with would be from ‘disadvantaged backgrounds’ so this is a great achievement.

So what about systemic change? in ireland.
that being Bernards real aim.

As Bernard points out you can’t have a discussion about education without talking about PISA. Luckily in Ireland the education minister is keen on an overhaul and is going what Bernard calls the “Finnish Route’ This is a great opportunity for 21st century skills to get foot on the ground in schools and eventually have 21st century schools across the country.

Key 21st Century skills that they are working on are ‘Being Creative’, Working with Others’ Managing information  thinking’ They have also come up with new ways of assessing these skills and their initial findings show some measurable positive changes.

Now the audience is asking questions and most people want to know about the potential in Ireland to transform the system and what parties are for and against.

You can find the slides Bernard used are here:
www.slideshare.net/tangney


Future Schools, SIngapore,

Presented by Yu Wei and Hyo-Jeong So.
An Evaluation Framework on Contextual Mobile Learning: Deriving from a Systematic Review

In Singapore 5% of schools are flagged to be Future Schools, they receive a lot of funding for this, and their research work works with these Future Schools. The Future schools,  have for example,
1. Whole school ICT approach,
2.  1:20 teacher student approach,
3. students have own laptop and ipad for outdoor learning.
4. The school inside has a very open and flexible architecture.

Yu Wei and team have designed what they call Mobile Learning trails.

The evaluation levels they work with to know if this mobile learning and future schools are having desired results are:
1. Ministry’s goals
2. Institutional demands
3. Students experience.

They started with this question:
What consists of a good contextual mobile learning model, How do we evaluate?

I’m afraid I couldn’t quite follow, their process, which was aimed to evaluate students progress.
But this si the aim fo Future Schools
The FutureSchools@Singapore aims to equip our pupils holistically with the essential skills to be effective workers and citizens in the globalised and digital workplace of the future

John Traxler
Unpacking question around Digital Literacy.

I love listening to John unpack things, he seems to continually  search for the nuance and the intangible and the cultural and ethical consequences of ideas and movements.

While part of a definition would be, ‘They are essential to an individuals life chances’ John says it’s often reduced to just meaning IT skills, which leaves out the cultural, community, political aspects of digital literacy.

Digital Literacy is probably a pre requisite for  Digital Citizenship and Digital Scholarship and relates to the concepts: Digital Divides and Digital Inclusion. And is further confused by the terms and discussions round digital natives and digital immigrants.

From a ‘ready to graduate’ perspective the need for digital literacy relates the question / why and what for do we educate’ which has a number of changing dynamics currently. If we look at literacy, which usually means being able to read and write and manage numbers. Then digital literacy is being able to read and write with digital devices to express yourself.

And then how does this relate to mobile learning? Mobile digital literacy.
Yet Mobile technologies are socially pervasive and are transforming our society making the text all the more local, location based and transient. Making the idea of authority of the text all the less substantial. Which influences the variety of genres one would want to or need to ‘read’
Cyberspace vs. phone space. Technologies are breeding. What’s being read and what’s doing the reading is changing. And where does this leave literacy?

Here is John’s full paper on this: Identity and Context, The reader and the Read
http://blogs.ubc.ca/newliteracies/files/2011/12/Traxler.pdf