Strategic Design & Social Innovation Newsletter Nº1

Welcome! To a new year and a new newsletter. This is the first instalment. I will bring you the best links on Strategic Design and Social Innovation every week. This first edition is a special edition, dedicated to lessons from 2015 and predictions for 2016. Enjoy 🙂  – Mickey. 

Ps. Sign up for regular instalments in the footer. 

Lessons from 2015

Work Isn’t Working — FLOX Teams — Nobl

New Year’s Resolutions For The Organization — The Ready

2015’s Must-Read Organisational Design Links — August

The 30 Best Pieces of Advice for Entrepreneurs in 2015

Top 10 Breakthroughs of 2015 Peter Diamandis

Predictions for 2016

10 predictions for 2016 – Nesta

The Top Technology Stories You’ll be Reading in 2016 – Singularity University

What Is Going To Happen In 2016 – Fred Wilson

Five tech predictions for 2016 — Kevin Rose

10 trends to watch in 2016 – Agenda – The World Economic Forum


RECOGNISE is looking for a Partnership and Outreach Manager.

If you have an open job that you’d like to post, email me with the relevant details. 

You have unconscious bias, here is what to do about it

I have unconscious bias too.

We all do.

It’s okay, we can do something about it.

I have been supporting Arrilla develop an online Indigenous cultural competency training course for the past couple years. Through the process, and my personal research, I have learnt a lot about cross-cultural competency, diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias.

Our unconscious bias is the prejudice we are unaware we have. Due to our personal life experiences and the cultures we have grown up in, we make decisions based on certain ingrained thought patterns. For example, common cultural stereotypes, women are more caring and men are more aggressive.

We have these biases and we use stereotypes because, as the quote in the image above suggests, we cannot process all the information we receive consciously. We must rely on mental shortcuts.

However, stereotypes can lead to unfair judgements of people based on their gender, race, or sexuality among other things. Overtime, skewed decisions based on unconscious bias lead to major social issues, such as gender and race based discrepancies in pay and influence at work.

Learning about, and counter acting, unconscious bias can help make organisations more open, inclusive, and diverse. This can make teams more collaborative, innovative, and ultimately more profitable. The research backs this up.

I recently came across two introductory workshops developed by Facebook and Google on unconscious bias (hat tip to Courtney Seiter and August respectively). These are great data driven and research backed workshops on what unconscious bias is, why it exists, and what we can do to counter act it. It’s worth watching them both as they emphasise different things.

Before you watch them, go to the Harvard Project Implicit website and complete one of the many Implicit Association Assessments. Pick one from categories such as race, gender, or sexuality. Think you’re a pretty conscious person? You might be surprised by the result.

Let me know if you found these resources useful.

Get in touch if you want to learn more about how to make your workplace more diverse and inclusive.

Facebook’s Unconscious Bias Training

Google’s Unconscious Bias Training 

Bonus, here are a couple articles by Courtney Seiter from Buffer about what Buffer and some of the other tech companies are doing to build diverse teams.

7 Lessons From Facebook, Pinterest, And Google On Building Diverse Teams 

5 Times Our Company Failed At Diversity (And How We Fixed It) 

My new role in the Recognise Movement

“Think about how we felt on apology day and multiply that by 1,000; because that’s how good we’re going to feel as a country” – Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, talking about Constitutional Recognition.

I think words are very important, and when they’re expressed in the most significant, and highest and most powerful document in the land, that actually means a lot, it means a lot to me, and it means a lot to my family” – Rachel Perkins, Writer/Director Blackfella Films, talking about Constitutional Recognition.

“The future of who we are and how we might begin a healing process that is meaningful to us all is really important. We are on the cusp of doing that and I do have confidence that we can” – Pat Anderson, Lowitja Institute’s Chairperson, talking about Constitutional Recognition.

I’ve taken a role in Sydney as part of the team leading the field operation for the Recognise movement. It’s the people’s movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution and ensure there’s no place in it for racial discrimination.

I’m excited to join a passionate team of inspirational people working on something incredibly important. This job follows on from my previous roles in the Indigenous Sector working with Arrilla, the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, and the NSW Reconciliation Council.

My passion for working in the Indigenous Sector stems from my desire to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination and to redress the injustices of Australia’s colonial history. I articulated this, as best I could being new to the Sector at the time, in my Political Economy dissertation in 2007. Since then, I have wanted to work for and support Indigenous leaders I believe in. I have had the chance to do that with leaders like Leanne Townsend, Carla McGrath, Jason Glanville, and Shelley Reys. Now, I’ll have the opportunity to work with leaders like Tanya Hosch and Mark Yettica-Paulson.

The recognise campaign is an incredible opportunity to change the course of our country’s history and build the foundations for a better, more inclusive and diverse future.

On the most practical level, more than 117 of Australia’s leading health bodies say that recognition will improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This movement will make a significant and immediate improvement in the lives of Indigenous people. Changing the constitution will do this by allowing Australian’s First Peoples to feel not just recognised, but respected and appreciated in their own country. This is a critical step forward in improving the wellbeing of all Australians and allowing us to co-create a better future as a nation.

More on why to support and join the Recognise movement here.

Below is a short clip from some of the leaders of the health bodies committed to recognition.

Recognise Health video from The Lowitja Institute on Vimeo.


High Distinction: Film School and Studio for Diverse Filmmakers

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 1.27.07 PM

For the past few months, I was working with two close friends of mine. Blair Macdonald and Oliver Clark (known as the directing duo Novemba). We were developing an idea for a new social enterprise called High Distinction. It was to be an advertising film school and creative studio. We wanted to support young Londoners from diverse backgrounds to break into the advertising, film, and tv industries. We also wanted to shake up the creative industries by highlighting the benefits of a diverse workforce.

What we wanted to do?

We wanted to teach the art and business of making branded content and create a space with young people from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in filmmaking. We wanted to do this by making real films for real clients with live briefs. This was not to be a pretend training environment. We wanted to partner with global brands and create films that form part of their broader marketing campaigns.

Why were we doing this?

Because the best ideas aren’t being made. The best stories aren’t being told. We believe many of the best concepts and narratives are in the minds of young people from diverse backgrounds. They have been excluded from the advertising, film, and tv industries for many social and economic reasons. We want to change that.

We want to provide the necessary training and support for young people from diverse backgrounds to be able to break into the creative industries. We also want to make it easier and more attractive for creative companies to hire talent from undervalued and underrepresented communities. Our ultimate goal is to change our collective culture. To make it more inclusive, which we believe will make it more creative.

We are all products of our unique cultures and experiences. The more we share our ideas and stories with people from different backgrounds, the better we become. We learn more, we understand more, and we see how things can be interpreted in a different way. By being be able to see things from different perspectives, we become more empathetic. This makes us all more open, compassionate, and imaginative.

This enterprise was a side project that got sidelined. It was put on the back burner due to a lack of funding and other commitments in our careers. If you would like to see life breathed back into it, get in contact about how we can collaborate and make it work. This enterprise could work and have a significant impact if the right partners came together to make it happen. Here is a link to our ambitious plan.

Here is a quick look at Novemba’s latest film, 2.5 million views and counting. For all their films go to Novemba Films.

Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact

A few years ago, I was the lead on a project developing a youth empowerment network with young Indigenous people in Australia.

The external design team I was working with invited me to attend a talk by Scott Belsky. I had never heard of him. I was in the midst of a steep learning curve, discovering the world of design, including human-centred design, service design and design thinking in general.

Belsky is a true leader of the creative and design world. He started Behnace, which basically has the mission of empowering creative people to get shit done. He also founded the awesome conference and resource 99u,which is all about the 99% of work which is execution or perspiration (rather than the 1% of work spent on idea generation or inspiration).

99u, recently acquired by Adobe along with Behnace, just released a new series of edited essays in a book called Make Your Mark. I have generally loved the content coming from 99u, but I admit being a little hesitant when seeing the book. I have been getting into reading longer books by single authors  (books I read last year) rather than articles online. I was worried this book would be just like reading a bunch of shallow articles online. I was wrong.

Make Your Mark, packs a real punch and really gets the creative juices flowing. I was endlessly flipping between the book and Trello noting down my ideas to implement at High Distinction. If you’re interested in leadership in the creative industries, I highly recommend it.

Thank you to Jocelyn K. Glei for putting the book together.

While I was familiar with many of the concepts and ideas in the book, reading it kicked me into action, to review our work and implement some of those ideas. A couple things we were reminded of doing at High Distinction include:

·      Being transparent – we published our application to the Big Venture Challenge with all our projected financials. We will continue to be transparent about why, how and what we do, we are keen to share our journey and hear peoples thoughts about how we are doing.

·      Communicating better – we have implemented an app stack that is going to allow us to communicate effectively internally and externally now and well into the future as we grow. It goes: Slack, Trello, Google apps (gmail, calendar, docs), Squarespace, Tumblr, Twitter, Vimeo, and YouTube.

·      Asking ourselves ‘how cool would it be if…’ and seeing what we say. E.g. how cool would it be if……one of our participants won an Oscar… how cool would it be if…we had a space in London which was home to a thriving community of emerging and established diverse filmmakers collaborating and creating epic content.

·      Thinking about ‘small kindness’ – thinking about all the details and the subtleties. The tiny considerations.

·      Asking why we are doing something more often and more times in a row.

I hope you enjoy the book.

Recommended Reading for 2015

I read these books in 2014 and they had a big impact on me. I highly recommend them for you in 2015. They will not doubt have a profound affect on your thinking.  I’m trying to support myself and my family as I work on a new social enterprise (High Distinction). For this reason, these are affiliate links so there is a little kick back to me. I really appreciate it.


Currently reading these

How to start a (social) start up – On hold

on hold

My series – how to start a (social) start up – is being put on hold.

I started this series to keep me sharp as I transition from one client to the next.  Through Social Innovation Thinking, my consulting firm, I have spent the past year working on an exciting online learning project. It will launch some time next year. As the project winds down, I wanted to explore new ideas in this blog series.

However, as I was exploring the potential of Future Baby, I got a call from some friends in London. They have had their own ideas on how to make an impact for some time.  They have also seen the rise of Flashpoint Labs over the past four years. They are interested in starting something similar in the UK. Something that empowers diverse young people to express themselves while shaping our collective culture and generating a livelihood.

My friends, Blair and Oliver, are filmmakers (Novemba Films) so this would be an enterprise based on filmmaking. I’m incredibly excited by the prospect and I’ll be spending a lot of time in London developing the idea over the next few months.

PS. You can now find out more by visiting our website – High Distinction.

How to start a (social) startup – CS183B – Part 4 — Target Market, Design and User Journey 

Photo by Travis Isaacs. Creative Commons

I watched lecture 3 and 4 last week of CS183B. Wow, the course is great. I feel so lucky to be able to take part. Adora Cheung’s lecture made me think about doing a user journey and some more target market research. I decided to do this instead of jumping into the business model canvas. The first box on the canvas is Customers Segments anyway.

Shifting the Target Market

I had a bit of a realisation about my idea to target single dads. While they are a growing part of the population, I’m guessing most don’t get custody of the child from day one after birth. Future baby targets parents of babies in their first couple years. So, if most single dads do not have custody in the first couple years, this might reduce the market size. Even so, there are about 2 million single dads in the USA (around 2–6% of households), about 40% have an income over $50,000. I haven’t found figures on single dads with kids under 2, but there are about 4 million babies born in the USA every year. If the same proportions apply, which is unlikely as we assume most mothers would have custody in the first 2 years even if the father becomes the main parent after, then we are looking at about 80,000 single dads with kids under 2. If 40% have income over $50,000, we are looking at 32,000 dads as our target market. As I think this is a big overestimation due to the babies need to be with the mother, even if we are left with 10,000 dads, they are likely in a tough situation and not thinking about social and environmental issues as a priority. The convenience of FutureBaby might be great, but it would probably be more expensive than other subscription baby clothes companies.

So, I have realised, through this basic research and some crude deductions, that my original target market is probably too small.

What do I do? Well, I think the only way this product/service is going to work is if I focus on mothers. Single or not, who are busy and not too concerned with the fashion of their babies.

How Important is Product Design?

Although, I had a just had a meeting with the leader of a designer fashion label here in Hungary. She suggested I make the baby clothes stylish, not completely bland. It can be minimal and unisex, but it can be beautifully designed too. This adds a whole aspect to the product and the production process though that I was hoping to skip. The real question is, how important is it to mothers that the clothes be designed by a cutting edge designer? Will the standard onesie baby cut work? Or do we need to add the element of beautiful design? I’m partial to beautiful design and would love it, but I also don’t want to veer off course from the purpose of the product. The purpose is to be simple, functional, and social and environmentally beneficial. To be beautiful is something extra. How much extra will it cost? How much will it slow down production? How much will mothers care? Will it lead to more sales and hence impact? The standard onesie cut is great, do we really need a beautiful and custom onesie cut for this target market?

I have been talking to mothers about the concept (I don’t know any single dads, maybe another sign to forget that target market). Some have said that they like shopping for kids clothes and picking stuff that looks good is important to them. Other mothers have said they don’t like shopping and something convenient, simple, functional and unisex would be great.

I need to refocus on mothers as the target users. But do I need to focus on single mothers? Or just busy mothers? Or do I focus on gift givers and not on the mothers at all? Should I position this as the ultimate baby shower or newborn gift and not focus on the mothers directly?

User Journey

Anyway, to the point. Here is what a user journey might look like, for a mother, starting on a computer (as opposed to on a tablet or mobile).

1. See Facebook post by a friend (either me or a friend of mine supporting me and the organisation) about organic and sustainable baby clothes by subscription.
2. Click on link.
3. Get asked by browser to launch iTunes (as link takes you to iTunes app store and the app page).
3. Arrive at app store page for FutureBaby App.
4. Read copy / view screenshots
5. Decide to click download.
6. Get prompted to enter your iTunes password. Enter your password.
7. If you have automatic downloads on, it will automatically appear on your iPhone/ipad. If you don’t, you will get a prompt from iTunes to turn it on. If you turn it on. It will download on cellular data if you select that option or download the next time you are at wifi. I don’t know yet what happens if you do not enable auto download as I have not synced up to wi-fi. Maybe you need to sync your phone with you itunes on your computer.
7. See app appear on phone, click on it.
8. App opens to welcome screen. Maybe an intro video.
9. Prompt for personal details : Name, Baby Name, Baby birthday, email, postal address, special notes about baby.
10. Go through to app homepage. Select subscription package. This is an in-app purchase.
11. Maybe iTunes prompts again to enter password (I’m not 100% on this).
12. Thank you and goodbye page. Tells you to relax as baby clothes is on the way and positive impact on society and environment in process.
13. Package with first batch of Baby clothes arrives in mail within one week. Delight point.
14. Customer takes photo and puts on instagram with hashag. #futurebaby
15. Customer gets a notification with a measure of social and environmental impact of clothes they bought and by all consumers/users/babies together. Metrics of the movement.
16. Package with second batch arrives one month later.
17. Customer gets a notification with a measure of social and environmental impact of clothes they bought and by all consumers/users/babies together. Metrics of the movement.
18. Package arrives with third batch. Process repeats for 24 months.
19. We’ll figure out the next step.

How to start a (social) startup – CS183B – Part 3

Instead of looking at the second idea, BuyBack, on its own, I have decided to merge the ideas. If I just did BuyBack on its own with a T-shirt, I feel like it would be less practical. People may not need a T-shirt and they may just buy to support the campaign. Which is great, but I don’t want to create unnecessary waste.

What if I combined FutureBaby with the BuyBack business model? (that’s right the name has evolved, first to Superbaby now to FutureBaby because I feel like all the social and environmental consciousness is about thinking about the future, it’s about intergenerational equity)

Rather than try to explain it in a meta way, I thought I would just share a first draft of the marketing language we could use around the new concept. (I must urge people to remember I’m writing, editing and publishing these posts in about 80min so please forgive the lack of tightness. I figure better to share the ideas quick and dirty than to perfect and not share at all.)

I imagine writing something like this on a landing or kickstarter page:

Start spiel:

We are creating a super socially and environmentally conscious apparel store for baby clothes. It is also going to be simple, stylish and convenient. We don’t want to minimise impact, we want to make serious positive impact.

To begin with, we will sell one style of unisex clothing for babies 0 – 3 years old. The material will be organic and sustainable cotton. The most ethical and sustainable we can find. Then we are going to plant trees with some of our profits too.

You will be able to buy the clothes one-off or by subscription. We will push the subscription angle though. We think it provides more convenience and more of a partnership between you and us. We are in this for the long haul, together, with our kids, into the future.

The clothes will be manufactured somewhere socially irresponsible. What did you say!? That’s right, we are going to find a manufacturer that produces top quality sustainable baby clothes but treats its workers like dirt. What the!?! Then we are going to use the profits from selling the baby clothes to BUY BACK THE FACTORY! Yes, seriously. We will purchase the factory from the owner and gift the factory to the workers by turning it into a worker cooperative. We will provide management consultants if necessary to help with the transition and to also make the factory truly sustainable. By purchasing FutureBaby clothes, you can help lift workers out of poverty and poor working conditions and give them the opportunity to not only work for decent wages, but to own part of the company, and have a say in it’s future. We think that’s pretty epic. Interested in joining the ride and supporting us to make this happen?

Pre-order you baby clothes here or sign up a friend with baby as a present. What a wonderful baby shower or newborn gift? By the time the baby is 3, they will potentially have contributed to the liberation of thousands of workers in developing countries and planted thousands of trees that reduce tonnes of carbon dioxide.

To be clear this is an early stage social enterprise startup idea. We are from the school of lean startups and we are launching and learning here. See our roadmap for development here (to be developed). We have not yet found the ideal factory so we are starting with a factory we don’t even know as we will be using a reputable wholesaler of organic and sustainable baby clothes. This way we know the product quality is there from day one. If we make enough money with this beta product, we can search and find the best manufacturer to target. We need $XXX,XXX to get this off the ground. That’s XX,XXX onesie’s, can we do it? Pre order a subscription of clothes for your baby here.

End spiel.

This may seem like going a bit far without doing the hard research behind the product/service/manufacturing/logistics but I feel like I need to validate the assumptions that this is something that people actually want. That is the approach of the lean startup. Are we solving a real problem? I know we would be solving one for me. A comment on my blog on my last post from a lovely Mother I know suggests that something like this might appeal to her. I have a good feeling about it, but no hard evidence.

Time is our most precious resource and if I pour weeks/months of effort into hard research, I fear it will be too big an opportunity cost and I’ll risk not being able to provide for my family. If I can validate the idea by getting presales, I can be sure I can survive while bringing the concept and business to life.

It’s funny I never used to think like this, before having a kid I had all the time in the world. I knew my family was a safety net so I would be free to explore ideas deeper before need to monetise (e.g. Flashpoint Labs). Now, food, shelter, and clothes for my kid is a priority which comes with a monthly tab I need to cover.

So the next step, I think a business model canvas and budget are required to know how much we need to raise and how many presale onesies we need to sell.

How to start a (social) startup – CS183B – Part 2

Okay, so I have two ideas. I’m going to look at the first one today in terms of the advice we have received from the CS183B class, including the readings.

Idea One, let’s call it Mindful Kids. (Why, because I had to come up with a name just then, in one minute, and I was thinking: nature, sustainable, simple, convenient, easy, organic, kids, dads and then I thought well that’s all a bit mindful. And I have been meditating a lot so I’m trying to be mindful right now. It will do as a working name.

The Problem:

Parents, especially dads, who are socially and environment conscious, while also being very busy, want to have simple, healthy, and sustainable clothes for their kids and they don’t want to think about it. Friends of these people want to buy a present for new parents or dads that doesn’t have negative impact on the world. The gift of monthly organic and sustainable baby clothes is the gift that keeps on giving for the length of the subscription, it relieves stress on the parents by reducing their need to go shopping, and it means the gift givers can feel good about their social and environmental impact.

The Well:

‘When a startup launches, there have to be at least some users who really need what they’re making — not just people who could see themselves using it one day, but who want it urgently.’ — Paul Graham

I need this, right now. The longer I don’t have this, the more my kid’s mother spends on unsustainable clothes. I’m also about to have a bunch of friends have kids and I want to be able to give this as a gift. I think it’s an awesome gift. A gift I can give without feeling bad about participating in the consumer economy.

‘you can either build something a large number of people want a small amount, or something a small number of people want a large amount. Choose the latter.’ — Paul Graham

I think other dads, particularly single dads, also want this right now. They either don’t have enough clothes for their kids or they are using clothes that’s too small or torn because they are putting off going shopping for kids clothes. Or maybe they are just not looking forward to the next round of clothes buying as the kids grow. They would like someone else to take care of the job. I think people who are really socially and environmentally conscious also don’t like buying presents just for the sake of giving a gift. Whether it’s a new born or babyshower gift or a birthday or Christmas gift.

When you have an idea for a startup, ask yourself: who wants this right now? Who wants this so much that they’ll use it even when it’s a crappy version one made by a two-person startup they’ve never heard of? — Paul Graham

Dads. Single dads. And guys in their late 20s or 30s who are thinking about what to get new mums and dads as presents.

How do you tell whether there’s a path out of an idea? How do you tell whether something is the germ of a giant company, or just a niche product? — Paul Graham

I think the path out of this idea, the road to big scale, is to eventually target mothers. Mothers are busy and conscious too. But they probably have a higher barrier to trying out a new two-bit startup. We need to prove we work with the dads. Then the mothers will know they can trust us. Once we have mothers, we could be a giant company.

At this point I goggled the idea (baby+clothes+subscription) and found:


Wittlebee and the story of how Wittlebee failed






I also found Birchbox, as some of these companies were being described as the Birchbox of baby clothes and I thought about Quarterly, which is what originally inspired my subscription thinking. Along with Who Gives a Crap?

I felt like hmmm, people are trying to do baby subscription but none are doing it how I would (I tried to find eco versions too). They are not socially or environmentally conscious and they stock brand names. My target definitely doesn’t want brand names. For me these companies have too many choices and not enough sustainability in mind. I’m a dad, I just want simple, minimal clothes, not fancy stuff. Give me organic, sustainable, cotton with no prints. Give me one style of onesie, beanie, socks etc. That’s it.

I also thought, hmmm, famous entrepreneurs like Sean Percival, renowned content ninja and former Myspace VP, have had a go at baby clothes subscription and failed.

Is all this good or bad news?

After feeling a slight pang, I continued reading Paul Graham’s article about Startup Ideas and I decided it was good news.

“Because a good idea should seem obvious, when you have one you’ll tend to feel that you’re late. Don’t let that deter you. Worrying that you’re late is one of the signs of a good idea. Ten minutes of searching the web will usually settle the question. Even if you find someone else working on the same thing, you’re probably not too late. It’s exceptionally rare for startups to be killed by competitors — so rare that you can almost discount the possibility. So unless you discover a competitor with the sort of lock-in that would prevent users from choosing you, don’t discard the idea.” — Paul Graham

I have to leave it here as I’m out of blogging time. I only have 80min to write, edit and post these every two days. Stay tuned for the next instalment.