Firm Follows Form

Organisation Design Blog by Nathan Waterhouse

Nathan Waterhouse

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December 10, 2013

Ideas are Cheap

Working in the world of innovation and creativity you hear a lot of talk about ‘ideas’. In the vernacular of innovation, the emphasis placed on ideas is overdone. It’s Saccharin sweet. You can see this in the cynicism some people have towards brainstorming: there’s a perception that it’s all happy clappy fluffy hot air and no action. Personally I think they’re right to be cynical. The real challenge is that most people are jumping to the middle of the creative process (probably because there’s a thing called brainstorming they’ve heard of and that’s what they associate with being creative in a team). All too often the start and the ‘end’ of the process are skipped over – the two most important place to invest time. – Read More –

September 3, 2013

Knight Foundation’s next challenge: Health & Data

Knight Foundation’s latest newschallenge launches its Entries phase today, seeking new ideas to improve the Health of communities by asking this question: “How can we harness data and information for the health of communities?” The platform is our first public instance of IDEO’s new open innovation platform OI Engine. Read on to learn more about the latest challenge and some of the stuff we’re learning about running open challenges with financial rewards.

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July 31, 2013

Community Design Principles of Span Homes

Exactly a year ago I moved from sunny California to London and (with my wife and two kids) we now live in a lovely community – I jokingly refer to it as a commune to colleagues at work. We knew no one when we arrived and now we and our kids have new friends. I never thought I’d have such good neighbours in a big city like London. How is this possible? – Read More –

July 28, 2013

Designing new innate human skills

We recently had a new addition to the household: a Siberian Cat called Willow. We got him as a kitten and something struck me as interesting the other day: he has never had any real interaction with other cats and yet he knows exactly how to be a cat. He knows how to catch food, how to clean himself, how to walk precariously across a fence, and how to beg for love. We on the other hand, are born with inbuilt instincts and capacities but few innate skills or solutions that can be used almost immediately without supported development. If you left a baby to its own devices it would struggle to cope alone.

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July 3, 2013

How to nurture & design your community

With so much of the interaction online being centered around its social nature, I’ve been wondering ‘can you design a community?’ When we first designed OpenIDEO.com we began with some design principles to help steer our decisions. They included things like: optimism, being inclusive, etc. A big surprise to us was that, as time went by, those principles translated into community behaviour, which was immensely gratifying for us to see. Those principles informed how we designed the user experience, but also ended up being the beginnings of how we would recruit new team members, and informed our ongoing strategy as a team.

Building off those guiding principles and learning from some of the impact that the community has created – often spawning new physical communities like MiLES has done (transforming disused storefronts in New York and their neighbourhoods) here’s some initial thoughts on some principles for nurturing existing and designing new communities. My question for you: what’s missing? Do these translate to physical community creation as well as the online world?

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June 4, 2013

The future of human centered design

Throughout my career, and especially as a designer at IDEO, I’ve been a passionate believer of the value of placing people first, of designing from an end–user perspective. I’ve seen first hand the potential for how Human Centered Design (HCD) can transform careers, organisations,  industries and people’s lives. However, lately an idea has started to gnaw at me. – Read More –

May 28, 2013

6 Ways to Amplify your Community’s Potential

Whether you are a CEO, a manager leading a team to create change in an organisation, or a community leader, try thinking about these six approaches to make the most of your community’s potential to do good.

Just as machines have amplified our individual ability to create, the internet is enabling us to amplify our collective potential to create impact. I hear of many community leaders from CEOs to scout leaders wanting to make the most of social media and the internet to meet their goals. Here’s six ways that successful community leaders maximise their impact. – Read More –

May 25, 2013

The Convening Power of Open Innovation

At IDEO, we’ve begin to take the software we built to create OpenIDEO and begin customising it for other firms to leverage their communities, employees, and extended networks to solve problems. We’re learning really interesting things about how the platform, called the OI Engine, can help companies reach their goals. Here’s an example from the Knight Foundation, a wonderful organisation dedicated to creating lasting change in communities, journalism, and the media. – Read More –

April 17, 2013

Lessons from Skoll World Forum 2013

The Skoll World Forum is an international event, hosted in Oxford England each year. It brings together an impressive community of philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, foundations, NGOs, governments, corporations and individuals passionate about creating sustainable social change to address our most pressing global needs. Rather than having a singular format of speaker and audience, Skoll keeps it fresh with a mix of panel sessions, debates, delegate-led discussions, and plenaries. It’s impossible therefore to attend everything as a lot happens in parallel, and the most important conversations seem to happen between 10pm and 2am in various bars in Oxford. Here’s what I learned during my time there this year.

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