Posts tagged ‘change’

Operating across organizational seams.

“Bingo” posts are based on  writer’s block bingo, where you “find a book closest to you, open the book, find an arbitrary sentence, and start writing about this sentence.” In today’s case, the post is based on an article that was recommended to me at work.

Sticking Your Neck Out, And Other Required Tasks For Change Agents

Leaders are able to [align and authorize others] because they are seam operators–literally, they operate across the seams of the company.

Daily Design Idea
Organizations come in all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of tolerance levels for fluidity and interruption. Yet, in some way, they all have some sort of organizational structure; hence the existence of seams (and the need for leadership to operate across them and generally be “increasingly interdependent“). February 13’s daily design idea is understand your organization’s structure, as enigmatic as it might be, and you’ll understand how to lead your organization.


February 13, 2012 at 11:29 pm Leave a comment

Metropolis announces its 2012 Game Changers.

And it’s an awesome bunch. Via Metropolis (January 25, 2012):

“Our class of 2012 is a diverse lot, but its members share an important trait: their community-based work has broader implications for the world at large, demonstrating the power of design to forge real change.”

Metropolis Game Changers award, designed by Christopher H. Lee (of SHoP architects) and produced by Replik. Photo by Kevin Shea Adams. Photo via Metropolis.

I was especially psyched to see that the honorees include architect Michael Maltzan, but to be fair all the bios are inspiring and definitely worth a read. (Consider this a nod to #19: Read biographies of people who have built things.) Coverage of the award celebration is also available.

February 12’s daily design idea is aim to be a (community-based) game changer!

February 12, 2012 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

25 thoughts for changemakers.

About a month ago, I finished reading Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know by David Bornstein and Susan Davis. It’s a relatively quick, inspiring, optimistic, and still very practical read, so needless to say I highly recommend it.

There are lots of reasons that I keep flipping it back open, but one major reason is a concluding section called “Thoughts for Changemakers.” The section contains a list of 25 suggestions, without any introduction, that anyone striving for change should read:

1. Begin with an end in mind.
2. Do what you do best.
3. Have people ask you questions about your idea.
4. Practice pitching your idea.
5. Study the history of the problem you are attacking.
6. Develop a theory of change.
7. Keep thinking about how you can measure or evaluate success.
8. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small.
9. Initiate new relationships.
10. Apprentice yourself with masters. (Work without pay if necessary.)
11. Volunteer for a political campaign.
12. Publish a letter to the editor or an op-ed.
13. Meet with a newspaper editor and a congressman.
14. Host dinner discussions about your idea.
15. Form a group to achieve a modest, short-term goal.
16. Ask a question at a public forum.
17. Engage people with opposing political views.
18. Ask for advice from people you admire.
19. Read biographies of people who have built things.
20. Spend some time working in a different sector, field, or country.
21. Practice public speaking.
22. Take a finance course.
23. Learn how to negotiate.
24. Find sources of inspiration and use them.
25. Hold to principles, be flexible about methods.

February 11’s daily design idea is almost everyone in a creative field is a changemaker of some kind. Maybe we should be pushing for more diversified education, jobs, and overall expectations.

February 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm 2 comments and piece of advice #6.

via Fast Company’s Co.Design (March 7, 2010):

Design and innovation consultancy IDEO “announced today that it would spin off a genuine 501c3 corporation to handle its social innovation practice.” The new “non-profit,, which will officially launch in the fall, will be in a better position to get grants from foundations whose rules make working with for-profit companies difficult.”

While IDEO has a history of doing projects with social impact priorities, “the new organization will aim to work in three different ways: partnering with non-profits to design solutions to problems in the areas of health, agriculture, water and sanitation, financial services, and gender equity; using open innovation platforms and social networking to share insights on best practices; and launching a year-long “future leaders” fellowship program that will pair fellows from the developing world with selected IDEO staffers.”

But will these new approaches be as successful as everyone hopes? IDEO plans to set the bar high for which projects even get picked up, and then be the first to find out if there is a real and positive impact made. “Projects themselves will have to meet a rigorous set of standards: they’ll have to be aimed at low income communities across the globe, be funded by a non-profit enterprise, and deliver tangible results — a real product, service, or system that will directly benefit the community it targets.” In addition, “there will be a huge emphasis on understanding impact,” says the head of IDEO’s Social Innovation domain, Jocelyn Wyatt. “We’ll conduct pre-project baseline surveys, do post-project evaluations, and bring in academics or other third parties for analysis of the results.”

March 10’s daily design idea is professional piece of advice #6: document and analyze your results.

March 10, 2011 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment

An architect of change.

The best part about going to events like Architecture for Change and City Lifters is that you’re surrounded by real people who have enacted real change. Some architects are changing the world with participatory design or historic preservation or their own just-do-it approaches. Tons of designers are working on ways to create more responsible housing and reduce project costs (though they could always use more). And everyone seems so dedicated to working towards a world with more good design.

For people like me who are early in their public interest career, here are the two best pieces of advice that I picked up at these events:
1. Listen to the communities that want and/or need change, and
2. Go get involved!

September 28’s daily design idea is strive to be an architect of change.

image from the Manchester Evening News

This post is 7 of 7 within a series exploring Public Interest Architecture.

September 28, 2010 at 5:32 pm Leave a comment

“Nothing about us, without us, is for us.”

Another inspiring speaker at the Architecture for Change Summit was Maurice Cox, whose career includes being a professor at UVA’s School of Architecture, former Director of Design at the NEA, and former mayor of Charlottesville VA, in addition to leading a few community-oriented architecture and planning firms along the way. The title of this post is a South African proverb, which Cox shared during his Architecture for Change presentation.

A major highlight in Cox’s career is his work with the rural village of Bayview on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, a project that eventually became quite high profile in the press. What started as a problem of basic access to clean water ultimately resulted in a multi-year, multi-million dollar community redevelopment project. In the book Design Like You Give a Damn, there is a great interview with Cox about Bayview. A running theme through this interview is the importance of designers being out in the community, both initially (so that the people that need design can find us) and throughout the project (to help give confidence to those who want to change their communities). One of my favorite lines from Cox in this interview is, “We need to be in the places where problems exist.”

Another man who clearly believes in the power of the participatory design process is Hubert Klumpner, a professor at Columbia’s Grad School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, a founding partner of Urban Think Tank, and a speaker at the City Lifters panel discussion (part of MoMA’s upcoming exhibit Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement).

The project that Klumpner spoke about most was U-TT’s Metro Cable project in Caracas, Venezuela. Its main goal was creating access for the city’s poorest neighborhoods (generally located on very steep hills) to the public transportation system. On the panel, Klumpner stressed the importance of engaging the end client early in design projects, an approach resulting in U-TT’s creation of a local task force that was able to produce the basic cable car plan. This concept had numerous advantages over an original plan for building new access roads, including saving up to 30% of one neighborhood’s homes from being demolished for road construction.

September 23’s daily design idea comes straight out of Maurice Cox’s talk, but I’m sure Hubert Klumpner would agree: let’s shift our focus from clients to communities. It’s one of the many ways to “engender a culture that values design excellence in everyday life” instead of in luxury markets alone.

left photo of completed houses in Bayview, by David Tulloch; right photo of Metro Cable, from designboom courtesy of Joaquin Ferrer Ramos

This post is 2 of 7 within a series exploring Public Interest Architecture.

September 23, 2010 at 1:18 pm 2 comments

“The design has yet to begin.”

The description for the Architecture for Change Summit was more of a rally cry, urging potential registrants to “join architects, developers and affordable housing activists to address the affordable housing crisis.” It was incredibly appropriate that almost all of the speakers presented lectures about actionable strategies for change.

One of these speakers was Bryan Bell, founder and executive director of Design Corps. Bell made reference to the work of Howard Gardner, whose research spans topics such as ethics, the human mind, and educational performance. One gem from Gardner’s website is “the key to good work is responsibility—taking ownership for one’s work and its wider impact,” an idea that Bell highlighted while urging architects to both practice good design but also articulate its definition. The SEED Network, established in major part through Bell’s efforts, is definitely a great step in that direction.

Casius Pealer, Regional Director-Gulf Coast for Builders of Hope, also focused on the importance of articulating our profession’s standards. With advanced degrees and public interest experience in both architecture and law, Pealer spoke with conviction on the need to get architecture’s Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct up to speed with that of law or medicine. He then opened up the floor by asking if access to design is as important as access to legal representation or medical treatment – leading to one of the most dynamic audience discussions of the entire summit.

Pealer’s kick-off slide read “The design has yet to begin, but the architecture is already there.” While certainly appropriate literally, he also meant it in a broader sense. What both Pealer and Bell seemed to entreat is September 22’s daily design idea: as a profession, we need to start taking thoughtful ownership of our work and its impact.

left photo of Design Corps’ migrant-farmworker housing project, from Metropolis Magazine courtesy of Bryan Bell; right photo of Builders of Hope relocating a donated house originally set for demolition, from the Wall Street Journal courtesy of Builders of Hope

This post is 1 of 7 within a series exploring Public Interest Architecture.

September 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm 1 comment

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