The innovation jedi

Tom Farrand is a force of nature. He’s one of the incredible Pipeline Project team who are changing the way the communications industries change the world. I first came across Tom at one of his  Good For Nothing social innovation weekends, but it was on the long train journey west to The Do Lectures that we really got to chat. He was buzzing with his 50/50 project that has taken off like wildfire- 50 projects in 50 days to stop famine in Africa. Also on the conversational table: iron man contests, tarantulas and er, shower gel…

THE LESSON: It’s hard to pick out just one thing as I feel that I learnt more last year than I did in the previous 15 years of my working life. That’s mainly down to us hatching our own social mission called Good for Nothing a year ago and seeing where the energy and community that’s building around it, takes us.  A couple of things stand out – the first is that ‘by doing interesting things, interesting things happen to you’. We’ve deliberately tackled as many different challenges as possible in the shortest space of time and opened everything up to the community on the way. From a 4 hr gig with 50 D&AD students, to creating 50/50, a big global challenge to raise awareness and money for famine aid, to getting purposeful companies doing Good for Nothing, we’ve had a go at lots of stuff. The more we’ve put ourselves out there and tried things, the more new opportunities have opened up. The second big thing we’ve learnt is that ‘a demanding common task builds community’ –  by creating these focused social innovation challenges, and bringing together diverse people to solve them collaboratively, there’s a growing community of like-minded people on a similar mission who are starting to share their skills, time and experience to help each other. This new purposeful energy feels exciting and we hope it could lead to even more good stuff happening over time…

THE QUESTION: The big question that we’re asking ourselves is how to accelerate the pace of change towards a more sustainable way of living in the face of seemingly impossible resource constraints. We’re asking ourselves whether the way in which we work can change for the better to enable this – human energy, collaboration and experimentation, feel like a part of the answer. This is something we’re keen to build on, getting more diverse stakeholders working across siloes to solve the bigger issues in creative ways – with collaboration between business, government, 3rd sector and citizens. Our other burning question is how to build Jedi and rave influences into our new web platform in a meaningful way…..

THE INSPIRATION: The thing I’ve been most inspired by in the last year has been the Masters paper in Sustainability and Responsibility that fellow Jedi Dan Burgess has just finished at Ashridge Business School. It plots his story from being stuck in advertising feeling like there’s nowhere to go, to meeting and starting to work with us, to upping sticks with his young family to live in a treehouse in Costa Rica for a year, to changing the way he lives, works, sees and interacts with the world. The paper is based on the process of action learning which has become central to how we now work as a team. And on route he’s uncovered many amazing bits of wisdom in his reading about how we can be more connected to nature, live more creatively and consciously and learn from natural systems to make collaboration work. There’s an amazing book in the making right there….

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