Building On Design Empathy & Creative Confidence for Greater Health

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It's fascinating how ideas spark, inspire and spread, isn't it? Last night I was talking with new LCI Maria Sipin about a myriad of things (including having her write a regular column for us!) but the two key themes were how can Women on Bikes SoCal support bright and talented young women like herself to stay in bicycling and active living advocacy, and how can we also reach and engage a much broader audience successfully?

Maria shared with me that she's been very inspired by the work of Gary Wexler of Non Profit Revolution who is the Adjunct Lecturer of Nonprofit Marketing in the Masters in Comm Management at USC/Annenberg School of Communication. Wexler is inviting those of us in the non profit realm to think out of the box, a more creative and dynamic approach. As someone who is a) newish to the non profit realm b) a creative at heart and always looking for ways to make advocacy more sexy, alluring and fun and c) increasingly alarmed by the sedentary disease pandemic I'm all ears. So as soon as Maria sent me Wexler's website link I clicked through and began to read his blog.

On January 9th Wexler wrote a piece titled "The Billion Dollar Gift" and I was immediately intrigued when I read his opening two lines:

"When David Kelley, the founder of IDEO in Silicon Valley appeared on 60 Minutes last Sunday night, he indirectly gave the nonprofit sector a billion dollar gift. The question is whether  anyone will take it."

I was so curious I had to go and look up that episode of 60 Minutes to see what he was talking about directly. I'm sharing it with you here below and I hope you'll take the time to watch it.

First off I was thrilled Charlie Rose was the interviewer! But aside from that one of the first things that jumped out at me when the interview goes into the IDEO offices are all the bikes up on the walls. Did you catch that? The second thing that jumped out at me is the way IDEO works with collaborative groups of people with different and diverse talents to come up with the best solutions for the end user. He calls it "Design Empathy," that idea that these teams build on the ideas of each other (rather than compete) to find ways to make products and processes more enjoyable for the end user.

Wexler in his blog notes how different this approach is to many non profits, who often feel compelled to be greatly swayed by the desires and ideas of their largest donors.

Imagine if we used Design Empathy in our active living advocacy...imagine if we thought this way in the broader health establishment? I feel like it could bring about a tremendous shift in our ability to really connect and affect behavior. People are busy, frightened and used to being artfully seduced into buying things by the best minds in marketing, media and advertising. If active living advocacy wants to make an impact we're going to need to get creative. Oh, but wait - Kelly has more to share on the challenge with that. I hope you'll watch his TED talk below about building creative confidence in all of us.

I have always considered myself a creative, but was talked out of trying to directly pursue a creative career when I was in High School. That left me feeling that I was artistic but not brilliantly artistic enough to make it - when it reality it was my parent's own lack of understanding of how many lucrative creative fields there were that I could have gone into even way back in the '80's. It has taken me many years to work to regain the kind of artistic and creative courage I had as a very young person, and I'm still working at it. So I can only imagine what it must be like for those who were never supported in their early creative endeavors, whose pictures and stores weren't lovingly posted on the refrigerator for all to see (or even better, beautifully framed!).

One of my MO's at Women on Bikes is to play my part to help instill creative confidence in others by inviting them to blog or be involved with us in other ways creatively they might not have ever experience before - like a professional photo or video shoot. Not everyone takes me up on the invitation, but when they do fascinating things unfold. I'll have more to share with you along those lines soon. In the meantime, don't you have your own "Bike Love" story you'd like to share with us? I'm all ears. My email is wobsocal@gmail.com.