#Co-creation, #Design thinking, # Social entrepreneurship, #Internet… #The Defining Decade. Rocketing buzz words. Everyone has them in mind. Everyone would like to integrate them into their work. No one doubts the power of harnessing their forces. No organization desires to be left behind in their implementation; no leader reckons being left behind in defining them and seeing them magically transform their output.
On 1st May, we sat with 41 EFAC (Education for All Children) scholars and went through the basics of all of these terms. We did not hope to start an organization, or lure disinterested employees into the fundamentals of innovation. Our purpose was different, our goal to draw them out.
The session began with an attempt to make them say out loud their aspirations. They were only too eager to share. However, the first important lesson that they had to learn, was that they had to value both their ideas and the ideas of the people around them. “Every idea is vital.. Every input from anyone should be appreciated”.. I could hear Simeon above the fidgeting and sounds of ruffling paper. These were new words.. With an education system that focusses on excellence rather than equality, these was a whole new arena. They would shape their learning on this particular day. It was a level playing field and everyone was needed.
The Internet appealed to them but from their reserve and demeanour, they seemed almost afraid to explore it in depth. It was a grey area they were not so sure they could demystify. Most of them had Facebook and Twitter accounts. What was almost shocking was that most of them did not truly understand the power of Google or Wikipedia or that they could get lessons on line for free. I watched as they took out their phones and started typing on their simple search engines. At that point, I realised that we had touched on that bridge that makes the difference how people perceive things. Like many times before, I watched with silent fervour as they realised that the Internet, could do one more thing for them.
The next step was to reinforce the idea that once the Internet had opened them up, they could actually work together on something that they needed to be done in their community.
They worked on sketches of a Social Network that would pool in EFAC’s community using Design thinking principles. So thorough were they that all we heard in that room for the two hours they were at work were whispers and the sound of markers dragging across drawing paper.
As we all settled down after the presentations were made, the room was silent and contemplative. I knew what was in their minds as I had been there too. They could see new dimensions in life. Some told me that they could see new paths consolidate in their minds. “If indeed the Internet will help us achieve our goals either by connecting us, helping us collaborate, enabling us to share, helping us learn and exposing us to like-minded people as we had shown them, then indeed there must be another way” a young girl Fridah whispered to me.
Technology is not all about the complex makings of machines or programmes. Actually what makes it work is the fact that people see its value. Value in the opportunity to be better. Value in the ability to make things work. Jamlab’s work, I reinstated once more, was to make people see this value and harness it, to reach in and draw themselves out.