What has been will be again,what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
- Ecclesiastes 1:9
Think back to what you did with your last “ah-ha” moment. Who did you share it with, and where is the record of it now? Do you remember? Odds are, you probably don’t.
Rarely do those breakthrough moments in the shower, over dinner or on the drive home get captured and shared. We may have a process for innovating, but we almost never maintain a process for recording what we learn as we go about that work. Journals can be unreliable and difficult to share. Social media tends to present a version of ourselves, often only what we think is our best possible face. On top of that, the individuals and teams that generate these moments — these insights — don’t think they are valuable outside of their immediate sphere (if even there).
This especially holds true for failures. Our natural reflex is to sweep those unflattering moments under the rug. Nevermind that we stand to learn more from our failures than at any other point in our innovation process. Perfection, polished products and immaculate outcomes continue to almost always be our most sought-after goals.
This means one of the best sources of teaching material is also among the most difficult to access: the stories of individuals in the process of their work. How do we capture that knowledge, and more importantly, how do we share it? What do the mechanisms and methods look like to gather this material, and what could the product of it be?
We have explored these and other related questions at the d.school for some time. Now, thanks to a generous gift from Knight Foundation, we’re digging in more deeply. This exploration has three major parts, each of which will allow us to expand our community of collaborators.
We will be looking for several new people to join us for extended engagements at the d.school. These will be professionals in and around the media field who will deeply explore new ways to capture stories of innovation in process and to share them with the wider world for the purpose of learning.
But there’s more … seriously, so much more. How many times have you wanted to be more civically engaged but found it hard to get involved? How many tools in the civic space have you found difficult to find, or when you do find them, too difficult to use? Civic engagement is one of many thorny problems in communities nationwide. As part of our collaboration and learning exchange with Knight Foundation, we're creating a civic innovation mini-cohort within our d.school fellows program — much like our K12 education and health care cohorts this year — beginning in fall 2015.
Last but not least, we want to design a new kind of convening. How might we gather to better foster an exchange of learning and collaboration? There are conferences and gatherings galore, but how might we design the way we come together to better create and promote impact?
All of these opportunities are points on a map that will allow the d.school and Knight Foundation — and hopefully, you — to try new things under the sun.