We Are Lucky at Tedx

We were really excited that We Are Lucky Co-founder Lucy was invited to speak at this year’s TEDx Swansea.  We love TED and were really honoured to be a part of such a successful event in Swansea alongside some other great speakers.

Lucy’s talk was about about how design thinking (and design practice) can impact education – not simply in terms of the teaching of design – but more importantly in terms of how we approach the planning, organising and delivery of education today. She speaks about her own experience of an education that is driven by assessment of the ‘things that are easy to measure, not the things that really matter’ and the impact on her mental health, and proposes a different, kinder approach to designing our education system.

 You can watch Lucy’s talk here, or read the full transcript below:

Transcript:

“Imagine you are five years old. 

Your five year old self is just starting school.  School is amazing. it’s where you meet new friends, you find out incredible things and you get to be a person in your own right for the first time. 

You are five and you are awesome.

Think about what you are learning at school.  You are learning to read stories, you are learning to write your own stories, you are building things, imagining things, discovering the power you have within you.

But you also start learn something else. 

You start to learn how school works.

When I was five I started to learn one thing in particular about school.  

At five I learned that if you get it right first time then you get praised by adults.

I learned that if you get it right first time you get praised by adults and that that feels great.

So I kept on getting it right.

I was a grade machine.

And if I didn’t get the grade, well somebody would pay.  

And that somebody would always be me; because if you learn that the only thing those around you value is the outcome, the grade, the number of right answers, then you start to believe that the numbers are all that count.   

And I believed it all through my education.  

I believed in numbers when by the time I was in my late teens my life felt so out of control, when I felt so useless that I became anorexic.  When my first real knock came I didn’t have the tools to cope, because I hadn’t learned the things that really mattered.  I collapsed like a house of cards, and I clung to what I knew.  

I clung to the numbers – counting every gram, every ounce, every calorie, every inch, every day.  I was addicted to the numbers, and the numbers nearly killed me.  

I was the product of a system where my self worth became utterly dependent on how I and other people measured me, and how that made me feel.

Fast forward more than thirty years and the numbers have never been more prominent in education.  

Right now things are far worse for our five year olds, our children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces.  

Right now we have league tables, we have rankings, we have big data!

We have big data that tells us which are the good schools, which are the good teachers, which are the good children.

But hang on, which are the good children? 

The ones who get the good grades, the ones taught by the good teachers, in the good schools whose good data goes into the big data machine? The big data machine which spits it all out in a table? A table of who is good and who is bad based on who can reproduce the same answers.  A table that creates a panic, a clamour, a desperate rush to get your good child into the good school with the good teachers.

Surely there should be no such thing as a good child, a good teacher, a good school, because in defining ‘good’ we are creating ‘not good’ and equating ‘not good’ with failure, and so making failure so scary to the five year old, the teacher, the parent, the school, that that failure becomes the way they define themselves.

At five children know what’s going on around them.  They know that if they get it right they get a reward, and they start to learn that getting it wrong is something to be afraid of, that it has consequences.  But everyone gets it wrong. In fact surely the whole point of education is to get it wrong and keep getting it wrong until you get it right – that’s what learning is.  

But now it isn’t.  Because we’ve got the numbers. Measured and published so the government and the voters know how many ‘good’ schools there are, how many ‘good’ teachers, and where the ‘good’ children are learning.  We’re testing our schools and our teachers by testing our children.  And we’re testing the things that are easy to measure, not the things that really matter.

And what exactly do the numbers tell us?  That the gap between rich and poor is not closing, that the ‘good’ get better, and the ‘not good’ get worse.  The numbers aren’t working.  They’re not working for the teachers. They’re not working for the parents.  And most importantly, they’re not working for the children.  Because a stressed five year old can become a stressed fifteen year old who becomes a stressed adult and our overloaded healthcare systems simply can’t cope with thousands and thousands more people like I was who are suffering from mental health problems.  

Education, like health, is too important to be left for the market to decide on who wins and who loses.          

So what are we going to do about it?

Well let me tell what changed my thinking, what has slowly but surely broken down my pattern, my reliance on getting it right, my obsession in fact.

 I started to learn about design.  

Now when you think of design you may think first about its outputs – the object, the system, the image.  But I want to talk about the process of design – design as a way of thinking.  

Throughout my career I’ve always loved working with designers but I had never really thought about why.   Until, about five years ago, I started to really learn about how designers learn to think it became clear – and I started to want what they had.  

You see design thinkers learn to tackle complex problems where there will be more than one possible answer. Design thinkers learn not to expect to get it right first time.  They learn that by allowing themselves to generate ideas and fail rapidly, sometimes again and again and again, as they develop their thinking, their understanding.  They learn how to refine, resolve, reshape their ideas into something that works.  Design thinkers are curious, they observe, they listen, they share, they collaborate, and they know that they are not the expert in the issue they are tackling – they know that it is the people who are impacted by the issue who hold the insights that will enable them to create something better. 

For me this was a revelation.   

Where I had previously been surrounded by people who positioned themselves as the expert, for whom failure was an embarrassment, who couldn’t be seen to not know the answer, this was like entering a completely different world.

I believe that education really needs design thinkers, at every level in the system.  We don’t need to throw everything away and start again, but we need to challenge a way of thinking that has drifted away from its core purpose.  The numbers have become the most important output of the system, but this really shouldn’t be the case.  We need to remind ourselves that human beings are the real output of the education system, and that human beings are complex, fragile creatures, each one unique and precious.    

This is where design thinking can help.  By fully understanding the needs of everyone in the system, you can start to design approaches that don’t simply benefit those at the top of the food chain, those who are already winning.  And by accepting that there is more than one right answer, and that failure is to be embraced as a part of the process, you can be more open to ideas, willing to try new things.  

But to make this work we all have to support those in power through this process, and be active partners in it not merely observers and commentators on it. But the good news is that there is already a lot of this going on around the world.  There are several Governments that have become confident enough to develop approaches where the emphasis has shifted towards human need rather than narrow measures of output.  

And at a more local level, there is a groundswell of teacher designers who are taking design-led approaches to their practice (and teaching their students to value the process not just the output).  

In my own work I’ve been involved in projects that have used design thinking to help university students address the hugely scary question of ‘what am I going to do with the rest of my life’, and my latest work has been in designing a ridiculously simple framework that helps learners and teachers establish a shared recognition of the value of some of the key attitudes and behaviours that I wish I had learned at school, like persistence and resilience. A ridiculously simple framework that allows kids to not get it right first time, that rewards the learning process not just the outcome.

How did we do this?  By starting with the teachers and the children, learning about them and their needs, and by injecting joy and encouraging curiosity, through stories, characters, fun.  

And guess what happened.

The kids got – it – they jumped on it – they embraced it.  within a week.  They understood that the adults around them valued more than the outcome, they valued what the children bring to the process. They got it, and they’re 5.

Design thinking provides us with a legitimate alternative perspective from which to  approach some of the problems we have within education.  

It has changed my thinking, and I think it can have an impact on the way we all think about our education system.  It reminds us that everyone in the system counts.  

But I’m not an expert – and I will never pretend I am – I’m a learner, and I ask you to join me.  

Curiosity is the most powerful force that we can harness in education – so imagine you are a five year old once again – a curious 5 year old, eager to learn.  Let’s learn how to design an education that keeps that curiosity alive for every five year old, so they become confident, resilient, adaptable fifteen year olds, and healthy capable adults.  

There is no one right answer here, and that’s the point.   

The great social and civil project that is education will never be finished, and that’s a good thing.  

And the beauty of this is that all we have to do is to accept that we need to keep on learning, and surely that’s what education is all about.

We are creating a monster, an ugly market monster, where the difference between the good children with good parents who have the confidence and wherewithal to get them into the good school at all costs and the others, is growing.  Where we’re leaving some children behind.”

Find out more about TEDx Swansea here: http://www.tedxswansea.com

Introducing Wildlife Friends Club

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We’re very excited to announce the launch of our latest venture:
 

The Wildlife Friends Club!

 

We’re on a mission to help all primary schools include some wildlife and conservation activity in their curriculum – and to help families find and engage in learning activities linked to nature and the natural world.

The Wildlife Friends Club is free to join and gives teachers, parents, and other carers and education providers access to downloadable resources, learning activity ideas, special offers, and ‘early bird’ updates on everything wildlife and learning related.

Join with your email and get access to free downloads in the Member Zone, a regular email newsletter and special announcements when we launch new material and activities.

We’ve created a brand new website where you’ll be able to access all things Island Friends, Woodland Friends, Jungle Friends and Wildlife Friends!

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Check out the new website here: https://wildlifefriends.club/ and follow us on Twitter at: @wildfriendsclub

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Watch this: Why we need to teach thinking skills

 

Are we teaching young people to be followers not leaders? We’ve been reading Seth Godin’s ‘Stop Stealing Dreams’ this week – and as a result discovered this brilliant TEDx talk from Dr Derek Cabrera.

Dr Cabrera explains why we need to teach young people more than just how to be good at school  – we need to teach them how to be good at life…and for this, they need to learn four key thinking skills.

A must watch for educators, parents, and anyone who believes in the transformative power of learning.

Find out more about Dr Cabrera’s research at: http://www.cabreraresearch.org

 

Watch This! Startup Kids

If you’ve ever thought of starting your own business, but thought you were too young, too old, didn’t know enough, or just didn’t have time, this is essential viewing.

 Candid, open interviews with the founders and funders of some of the most successful (and unsuccessful) tech start-ups of recent years (think Vimeo, Dropbox, Soundcloud and more), this documentary takes a look at what it’ really like to build a tech company from scratch – with all the ups, downs and not quite sure which way is up moments.

Check out the Trailer below, then rent from iTunes here.

3 Step Guide to Luck Making

The We Are Lucky project is all about helping people make their own luck by providing inspiring stories, resources, learning, tools and practical support to get you started on the route to making the life you want for yourself, and maybe helping those around you while you’re at it.

So how do you go about making you own luck?

Well there’s all sorts of stuff you can do – but we think it comes down to just 3 key steps..

1. Appreciate What You Have

Look around you – you may not have much, but you have a life, a body, and a mind…whoever you are and wherever you are.

Now, write down five things in your life you’re grateful for.

Done it?  Good. Now read them back.  Lucky aren’t you? That’s right, luck is all in the way you think about things, so if you believe you’re lucky, then you are.

Simple huh?

OK, onto the next step.  Sorting out things in your life that maybe aren’t going so well…

2. Find Out What You Really Want To Change

This can be the trickiest bit.  Find out what it is you really would like to change in your own life, and for those around you can be tough.  The things we think are our problems, often turn out to be symptoms of something else.

This is where coming along to one of our ‘make your own luck’ workshops could help.

The key here, is to dig deep and work out what it is that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning – what drives you – and what would really makes you happy.  You may say ‘winning the lottery’ but think about why that would make you happy – what would it enable you to do?

It’s the stuff that we do that makes us happy, not the stuff we own…so think long and hard about the change you’d like to see in yourself and in the world, then set yourself a big goal.  Something you’ve only ever dreamed of…and now that you have a goal you can make a plan…

3. Stop Waiting and Start Doing

This is the point where you start to break down your dream into little steps and just get started.  Waiting for your lottery win hasn’t worked so far, has it?

It’s time to get real and start taking little steps – right now – towards your goal.  Who cares if you get it wrong, or fail – you’ll always learn something along the way.

Life is too short to spend it waiting for your lucky day.  Get out there and do something today – who knows – you may find out you’re luckier than you thought…

To find out more about Lucky events, workshops and business support, join the Lucky List for regular updates.

Meet Sort

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We’re very excited to share with you our long standing secret careers project Sortyourfuture.com. We are now signing up young people who’d like to take part in the Beta phase of the project and you can sign-up here:

www.sortyourfuture.com/beta

 

Please watch our video to find out more about Sort Your Future:

We’re continually on-boarding organisations as part of our research & development phase – we aim to complete a full launch in 2019.

Contact us for more information.

Time to Re-think Higher Education

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Higher Education is never out of the news is it?   Mergers and acquisitions, feuds, accusations of dumbing down or elitism, and increasing pressure from government on recruitment, retention, and revenues – sounds like the kind of wrangling that goes on in a highly competitive marketplace doesn’t it?

The fact is that this is true, and yet somewhere amongst all the politics and economics surely there should still be a focus on that thing we’re all here to bring about?

A little thing called learning…?

A Factory Approach?

Have we become so myopic in our thinking about Higher Education that we’ve resorted to Fordist principles (or perhaps we should say Primark principles these days) and a factory approach?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s fantastic work going on at ground level in teaching, learning and research – we know this from experience – but when the rhetoric from our politicians and leaders is more about numbers than people, more about finance than fascination, more about bringing in cash than creativity and innovation, we worry.

Quasi-Commercial Models Aren’t Working

To me, the quasi-commercial model on which our Universities is run does not seem to be working.  Research we did five years ago on University missions suggested then that Universities were shaping themselves to ‘chase the funding’, and it seems that this situation is only getting worse.

Competitive recruitment may be seen as one way of driving up quality, but with so much pressure to gain money through recruiting ever more students, and particularly students from outside the EU, it’s easy to see how standards could be put at risk.

The Role of Universities in Pushing the Boundaries of Human Knowledge

We rely on our Universities to seek the knowledge the private sector cannot or will not fund, to push the boundaries of human knowledge, and to develop and nurture the minds of the generations who will take this work and humanity forward.

But can all our Universities deliver on these promises in our current system?

The simple answer is no.

The Need for Personalised Education

We need differentiation, focus, and a holistic, personalised view of education that does not seek to churn graduates out on a conveyor belt, but that recognises the unique skills and abilities of each individual and provides them with the support and opportunities to make the best choices for them.

We need to provide opportunities for them to continue to learn throughout their lives in a way that suits them and in ways that are relevant to a world that seems to transform itself every second week.

Rethinking the System

To do this, we need to have a complete rethink of the system.  Instead of focusing on long term developments of education programmes that are obsolete before they even start, we need to collaborate and share.

We see a future where students learn throughout their lifetime by accessing bite-sized chunks of education, available to all and constantly and collaboratively updated by a network of experts; by collaborating in project teams and gaining a portfolio of skills that are demonstrated to employers through tangible results not through the abstraction of qualifications and certificates.

Would you rather be able to create your own package of learning that suits you and generates a valued and valuable set of demonstrable skills and abilities, or learn the same obsolete facts as everyone else in a class of 500?   Would you rather study the things you’re passionate about, that interest and engage you, or study what you think you might need to in order to get a job? Thought so.

One Size Does Not Fit All

The fact is, just like with clothing, one size does not fit all when it comes to learning, but you need to know your measurements before you can find something that fits. We need to bring back a culture of tailored education, not just for the few, but for everyone whatever their age or background, and to do this we need to radically rethink our systems for developing and distributing learning opportunities.

The Power of Technology

We need to use technology and the human brain to their fullest capacities to create new collaborative learning models that are open, accessible, and above all human-centred.  This is not impossible – all the tools are there – we just need to let go of old systems and have the confidence and ambition to create something new, something better, something amazing.

What Do You Think?

What do you think? At Lucky we’re determined to offer people the opportunity to experience learning in this way, and we can’t wait to get started.  If you too are ready to make a change, get in touch – we’d love to work with you.

The Lucky Team

The Truth About Eating Disorders

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A blog by Lucy, in support of national Eating Disorders Awareness Week and the ‘Time To Change’ Campaign against mental health discrimination.

What does someone with an eating disorder look like?

Could you spot them in a line-up?

What would you look for?

Well, I expect you’d probably be looking for someone who fits the stereotypes we’re presented with by some sections of the media; the images of emaciated, skeletal frames, the pictures chosen for the maximum shock-factor.

But is that what all people with eating disorders really look like?

Well, some do, but in reality most don’t.  In fact you probably already know someone with an eating disorder, but they most likely don’t talk about it.  That’s how it is for most sufferers, a quiet, daily struggle.

Eating disorders are, sadly, increasingly common and, like people, they come in all shapes and sizes. Eating problems range from compulsive overeating to binging and purging, obsessions with certain food types, and the severe restriction of food intake; in fact there is such a range and variety, that as well as the commonly known types with clear medical criteria (such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa) there is a vast group of sufferers who will be diagnosed with the ‘catch-all’  term EDNOS, or ‘Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified’.

Contrary to popular belief eating disorders are not restricted to young, middle-classed women, but are prevalent across gender, age, ethnic and socio-economic groups, and sufferers do not choose to develop an eating disorder in order to look a certain way.

So, people with eating disorders are not easy to spot in a crowd, but what they do have in common is that they are all suffering from a dangerous and debilitating mental illness.

In reality, the eating disorder itself is usually just the outward manifestation of a deeper problem for most sufferers.  The truth is that eating disorders are mental illnesses first and physical illnesses second. In fact, in terms of mortality rates they are considered the most dangerous of all mental illnesses, with around 20% of sufferers dying prematurely as a result of the disease.

The chances are you already know someone with an eating disorder.  If you know me, then you certainly do, because I’ve lived with an eating disorder for around 15 years now.  It shifts its shape, comes and goes, but is stubbornly difficult to shake off. Sometimes it’s better than others, but it’s always there. So, when I hear former alcoholics say they’ll always be alcoholics but they just don’t drink any more, I get it.  For alcoholics, however, it is at least possible to stay away from your nemesis – for the eating disordered there’s no such opportunity. We have to eat every day for the rest of our lives.

I describe myself as a ‘managing anorexic’, in that I have learned to stay on top of it, recognise the warning signs and take action before I become too ill to fight.  Like me, most eating disordered people are perfectly aware that their behaviour is irrational, but still find that they can’t break out of it.

It’s a paradox.  I call it my ‘spaghetti head’, because it tangles my thinking and makes me behave in ways I can’t control.

What’s it like? Well it’s far better now, but sometimes it still feels a bit like a life sentence. For me, ‘managing’ means organising my life in such a way that I avoid the situations I find difficult, and keeping my eating and exercising (I was an obsessive exerciser) at levels with which I can be comfortable.  Every day is still a mental battle ground for me, and even the most basic of everyday activities (like having a meal with family or friends) can be extremely difficult.

It’s not ideal, but there are plenty of people out there who deal with far worse.  I’m just thankful that it no longer prevents me from achieving things and living a reasonably normal life – and this is largely due to the amazing support network I have around me and the many years of treatment which helped me get to this point.

So, this eating disorders awareness week, for once, I wanted to speak out about my eating disorder instead of hiding it, and say these five things:

Yes I have an eating disorder, but it does not define me.

Yes I have an eating disorder, but it does not stop me from contributing to society.

Yes I have an eating disorder, but I am not a freak or a wannabe.

Yes I have an eating disorder, but it’s not about how I look.

Yes I have an eating disorder, but I am still a Human Being.

If we want to prevent others from having to go through the worst an eating disorder can offer, we need to stop treating these diseases as though they’re something to be ashamed of, scoffed at (excuse the pun), or whispered about.

We need to talk about eating problems, acknowledge them, and get sufferers the help they need to make a full recovery before they become just another ‘lifer’ like me…

It’s eating disorders awareness week in the UK – find out how you can break the silence and participate by visiting BEAT, the eating disorders charity, or, if you think you may know someone who needs help with an eating problem, I’ve put some personal thoughts below on what to look out for and how to help.

Does someone you know have an eating disorder?*

If you think you might know someone who has an eating disorder, these are some of the warning signs to watch out for:

  • Changes in attitude to food – fixed routines, eating less or more, ritualistic behaviour.

  • Cutting out certain food groups or restricting the kinds of foods they will eat.

  • Heavy consumption of diet drinks/caffeine.

  • Dizziness or fainting episodes.

  • Checking food labels when shopping, carefully weighing out portions.

  • Buying large quantities of foods, hoarding/hiding food.

  • Discomfort and anxiety when eating with others, or eating out.

  • Weighing themselves regularly.

  • Evidence that they are buying quantities of laxatives, diet pills, or metabolism increasing drugs.

  • Excessive and/or obsessive exercising.

  • Significant weight loss or gain.

  • Spending lots of time in the bathroom – particularly after eating.

  • Tooth decay, general lack of self-care.

What to do*

The person you are concerned about may already be receiving treatment, and if this is the case, just offering them your support is something they will probably be very grateful for.  However, if the person you are concerned about has not admitted they have a problem this can be really difficult, no matter how close you are to them.

Many people with eating disorders will try to protect themselves from having to deal with their behaviour by trying to hide it or denying it.  They can become very clever at covering it up, and may become angry, upset, or try to laugh it off if you question them about it.

So what can you do to help someone if you think they may have an eating disorder and need help?

  • Be gentle but firm in first discussing the issue with them.

  • Talk to them and be persistent, even if they get upset or angry.

  • Show that you are worried about them and want them to get help.

  • Help them take the first steps to getting better by seeking help from a doctor or contacting ‘BEAT’, the eating disorders charity.

*PLEASE NOTE: I’m not a doctor or a mental health professional…so this is my own advice, from a sufferer’s perspective.  Always seek professional advice if you’re unsure.

Self Organised Learning Environments

If you present people with problems, their natural curiosity, creativity and ability to collaborate will lead them to teach themselves to solve it.

This is the central idea of Sugata Mitra’s TED award-winning approach to learning called ‘SOLE’ (Self Organised Learning Environments).

The idea of self-organisation and collaborative learning is a tantalising prospect.  Is it time to ditch our Victorian model of education and perhaps even ditch the idea that we need formal schools?

“It’s not about making learning happen, it’s about letting it happen”

Sugata Mitra

 

In a compelling argument for open access, self-organised learning  he asks “are we heading towards a situation where knowing is obsolete?”, and if so, what will self-organised problem solving enable us to do because we’re no longer holding on to knowing enough to pass the test?

Get involved

Step 1: Watch the video:

Step 2: Now, download the toolkit and get involved!

Introducing Woodland Friends

Since we published the Island Friends books, we’ve been secretly hatching a plan to develop stories linked to other eco-systems that could help children learn more about their local environment.

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Whilst we’ve still got tons of ideas for more Island Friends stories (watch this space), we’ve also started working on a new series called Woodland Friends.

 Initial sketches for a cheeky little Coal Tit

Initial sketches for a cheeky little Coal Tit

This series will focus on creatures found in the UK’s woodlands, including birds and small mammals, and will link back to our Enterprise Eggs framework which helps children recognise behaviours and attitudes that will help them become successful contributors to society.

 A Swallow in the making from our studio

A Swallow in the making from our studio

Applying Design Thinking In Your Organisation

We believe that applied design thinking can be an incredibly powerful force within organisations of all types.

We work with businesses, education providers and non-profits to help them create business models, plans, strategies, products and services using design thinking principles and tools.

 

Workshops and Consultancy for Businesses and Non-Profits

We help organisations define and refine their business models, products and services, using established design tools and techniques. Whether you’re starting a new business or want to transform your existing business, we can offer bespoke support for your organisation.  That might be through a workshop with your team, 1-2-1 Executive Coaching, or consultancy.

“it was a great day from my point of view – and the others all enjoyed being involved and contributing”  Workshop Participant

Workshops and Consultancy for Education Providers

We particularly love working with educators and education providers who want to embed design thinking into their systems, curriculum and practice.  We can offer consultancy, workshops and support in developing design-led resources and curricula within your organisation.

Island Friends For Schools

We developed the Island Friends stories as a way of supporting teachers and families to teach little ones about behaviours and attitudes that will help them in life.  Each story links to the framework we call the ‘Enterprise Eggs’ – and demonstrates one or more of the behaviours in action (you’ll see which ones on the back of each book).

 

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We’ve been working with a fantastic group of teachers to develop and test a range of teaching and learning resources to support the books and we were absolutely stunned by the positive reaction from the children and teachers who took part in the project, which was supported by Welsh Government.

By recognising resilience, creativity, teamwork and positive attitude teachers and children were able to increase motivation and engagement, and this had a knock-on effect on their learning both at home and at school.

Our pilot project with schools has been more successful than we could ever have imagined, so we’re now working on ways to engage with more schools who may want to use the framework.  We’ve also been liaising with The RSA to share the results as they are really interested in how design-led approaches can impact education. You can see our RSA blog here:

The RSA Blog – Adventures in Design-led Education – by Lucy Griffiths FRSA and Christopher Thomas FRSA

Get Involved…

If you or a school you know would be interested in working with us please get in touch via the contact page.

Introducing Life Design

 
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The team at We Are Lucky believe that the choices we make in life determine how happy we are, and that happiness is equal to success.

We spent a lot of time trying to figure out our own life choices, and made a lot of mistakes along the way –  and in our jobs and social lives we have encountered hundreds of people who are struggling with the same questions.

In fact, if you scratch the surface, it seems most of us are looking for whatever ‘happy’ is for us.

 

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Never ones to shy away from the big issues, we decided to try to work out whether there could be a simple way to approach the ‘wicked problem’ of how to have a happy life. We looked around us, asked, studied, learned, gained insights, came up with loads of ideas, tried them out, failed, adapted, refined, tried again, and again, and eventually realised that an answer lay right in front of us.

The very process we’d used to approach the problem of how to create successful happy lives, was a process that could help provide an answer to all those questions.

The process we had used was a Human-Centred Design Process.

Adapted and applied to answering the question ‘How can I create a happy and successful life for myself?’, this has become a method we call ‘Life Design’.

The Life Design process has four key steps which take you through a divergent thinking phase and a convergent thinking phase.

Step 1 Learn and Understand

First, you ‘Learn and Understand’ – this is the phase where you gather as much information as you can about yourself and the environment in which you find yourself.  You establish where you are right now. You are reflecting on your experience, your values and the factors that have an influence on you.

Step 2 Explore and Experiment

During this stage in the process you use the insights from step 1 to enter a divergent or ‘open’ mode of thinking.  Wide ranging ideas for your future are generated without boundaries or constraints. You try some of them out for size, explore them and find alternative routes, hybrid routes, recording an array of options and opportunities with different levels of risk and reward.

Step 3 Prepare and Launch

In phase three we start to converge your thinking. Analysing the ideas generated, examining the details around how they could be pursued.  You create three clear alternative pathways, with associated actions and evaluate them, making decisions about your next steps towards the futures you have envisioned.

Step 4 Do and Review

Finally, you start to pursue your action plans, feeding back to your peers, and with ongoing collaborative support from them.  Whenever you reach a decision-point you re-iterate the four step process to help you make the choices which will move you forward.  You can use the same cycle throughout your life, whenever you need to.

Simple eh? Well, maybe not that simple to just implement by yourself…and that’s why we’ve developed a series of workshops which guide participants through the process of designing their life.

Life Design Workshops

Life Design Workshops take you through the iterative process of designing your life, that’s designing a life for today, and learning how to adapt and redesign your life whenever you need to.  It’s an intense experience, but it’s our goal to give you a set of tools you can use that will enable you to create a better future for yourself.

Contact us via the contact page if you, your organisation or group is interested in a workshop or consultancy.

Project Portland

May 2012
We’ve just spent an amazing week working on a project with the fabulous Dr Tim Clark, entrepreneur and author of the career reinvention guide Business Model You,  and Bruce Hazen of Three Questions Consulting in Portland, Oregon.

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If you know anything about us, you’ll know we’re passionate about doing work that supports people in finding work they love and that contributes to society and their own happiness, and a project which is aimed at doing just this was right up our street so we jumped at the chance to work with world-leading experts in the field of career development to gain insights with a view to creating something aimed at helping people back here on our home turf in Wales.

“A career is something to look back on; a life is something to look forward to…”

We believe that a career is something to look back on and a life is something to look forward to, and to this end we’ve come up with a concept and model which will help pre-career individuals find their own way to a fantastic future.

The Core Concepts: ‘Life Design’ and ‘Life Design Studios’

Generating as many ideas as possible on day two of the project.

The outcome of our work was a new way of approaching ‘careers and employability for those  who have not yet started their career. It’s a holistic view of life and work that give participants the ability to design and take steps to create a life that works for them. We call it ‘Life Design’.

Life Design is a process based on the established methodologies of design thinking and in practical terms will incorporate a wide range of accessible and flexible online and offline resources along with self-directed and tutor-supported learning in both physical and virtual ‘Life Design Studios’. The key here, is that we are creating a programme that is directly relevant to and communicated in a way that is engaging for and adaptable to the differing needs that exist within this diverse group.

Island Friends Update

So, we’ve been quiet for a little while…well it’s the summer and the sun has been shining, and when the sun is shining we, and you, have better things to do than writing and reading blogs, right? 

In reality we’ve been heads down and working hard to get our children’s book project ready to face the world.

In July we went to Skokholm Island for a few idyllic days staying  in the lighthouse with the fab wardens Rich and Giselle, from whom we learned a huge amount about the island wildlife, and while we were there we edited the three books we have written and illustrated.

 Hanging the first book out to dry at the Skokholm Lighthouse

Hanging the first book out to dry at the Skokholm Lighthouse

 

The experience we had has enabled us to add so much more detail to the books and we’re at the stage now where we’re really proud of them.

…and when you finish things, things you want people to love as much as you do, you kind of have to put them out there.  This is the scariest part…

So, this week we’ve been working on a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund our first print run, including making the video, writing the story etc. It has been a massive learning curve, but we’re almost ready to go.

 The chaos in our ‘ideas room’ before shooting our Kickstarter video

The chaos in our ‘ideas room’ before shooting our Kickstarter video

 

Our plan is to launch it within the next week or so, and we know we’re going to need to spend the next month telling everyone about it.  For a natural introvert, this won’t come easily, so we’re going to need all the help we can get to share the link (if you’re following us on Facebook or Twitter, we apologise in advance for the forthcoming Kickstarter fever…)

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