Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Greengaged: Systems for common good

Today I was at the Greengaged event, Co-opportunity: A Day for World Builders. I only stayed for half a day as there's a PhD deadline looming at the moment... The event was hosted by the Design Council and asked:

How could we create (banking and financial) systems for the common good?

I was attracted to the event for a few reasons:
  • The event was curated and facilitated by author of The New Marketing Manifesto and The Green Marketing Manifesto, John Grant, who's work I have been familiar with when I was a MA Business student. Grant wrote the best marketing "textbook" I came across. It was the closest I saw marketing "theory" come to placing people at the centre of product and service development and marketing;
  • Co-production/co-design/co-creation looked to be keys theme to the day;
  • The opportunity to think about how one might re-invent the banking and financial system. When I worked in business and management consulting, most of my clients were banks or financial institutions. They were all after disruptive innovation, paying more attention to the customer experience and using design to do this but also for innovation and transformation. But today's work shop threw up a whole bundle of issues, I have to say my previous work, largely overlooked. These issues had to do with sustainability, common good (though some of our projects were leaning toward ideas for community) and global issues (while some of the projects recognised the global context our projects weren't so focused on these issues).
The event attracted an interesting mix of people. From designers, to entrepreneurs, to educators, to people in advertising and a former banker. The agenda was sketched out by John, and peppered with presentations for example we heard about the Brixton Pound project from Josh Ryan Collins who's been working on the project at the New Economics Foundation. Josh (about to undertake a PhD himself next year on the subject) spoke about the concept of money and what its functions were in the real world. I had never really thought about it much before so they were interesting questions to reflect upon. Josh also stated how, "everyone has a skill that is valued by other people" but went on to say that our currency system is unable to effectively value those skills. After Josh's presentation, the (potential) combination between local skills and local currencies was swirling around in my head.

John's mapping of the day's agenda

But the day moved on at pace and continued with was lots of brainstorming of ideas and issues and John shared many stories of systems for common good that he's been identifying and researching for his forthcoming book, Co-opportunity (by the way, the book is being co-authored in a similar way to Charles Leadbeater's book We Think, which was done where people could access the progress of chapters and feedback to the author. Click on the following links to check out Co-opportunity and feedback to John).

The workshop

We also shared many examples, of systems for common good, among ourselves. One of our tasks of the day was to come up with new ideas for banking and finance using existing systems/models and connecting them to a banking and finance context. Some ideas from the groups included:
  • Mortgage pooling: An idea inspired by babysitting credits among a community of families where time credits are exchanged for babysitting each others children;
  • Banks as museums: Thinking about the experience of banks like one might think of designing a museum to appeal to the five senses;
  • Making banks more transparent: In the way Facebook is transparent with providing insight into the lives of our friends;
  • Peer-to-peer recommendations for banks: Which reminded me a bit of Tripadvisor, Ebay or the way one can leave comments on Amazon.com.
The morning provided lots of food for thought, much like the RSA event last night, so it was a pity to have to go home to continue tackling the research methodology chapter of the PhD. But am learning how important it is to punctuate a long process like a PhD with bits of inspiration, diversity and loads of new stories.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing all this Lauren - I wish I had been there!

Ian Crawford said...

Thanks for writing this up Lauren. I had registered to attend but had to meet with the director of Mind instead for Project H. Do you know if anyone else has written up a summary I could read?

lauren said...

Thanks for feedback guys :)

Ian, just found more detail on rest of day here: