The Idea Guy • May 1, 2020
Working with others to solve problems provides a sense of control that many people, like me, have lost.
When the first reports of COVID19 were shared, I was curious. As the reports continued, I was concerned. The media increased coverage, social media filled with information from varying sources and I, like many others, started to wonder, “What the hell is going on?”
The challenges were many, and the stakes were quickly mounting. People were ordered to stay at home, and businesses were wondering how long they would go without revenue. Employees were notified of late pay, then reduced pay, leading to the greatest unemployment rate in US history – ever.
Like others, my mind filled with questions like, what is going on, when will this settle down, and what is going to be the new normal?
Recently, there has been a change in my feelings that has come from my work with others who are also feeling the same way, and are focusing on creating new ideas that solve the short and long term new problems associated with finding our new normal.
One of these efforts has come from my work with D4SD, aka, Design For San Diego, a civic design challenge that provides a space for all of us to address the region’s most challenging issues. D4SD offers a series of public workshops to bring together a wide range of stakeholders and to scaffold a process of framing human-centered design problems, prototyping solutions, and building alliances to bring good ideas to life.
Over the last three weeks I have lead a group focused on the support of non-medical frontline workers: the men and women who show up everyday to stock shelves at our grocery stores, that drive our busses in our city, that help with financial transactions at our banks, and the many job roles that are in harm’s way because they are helping us maintain some sense of normalcy.
Each week, educators, students, designers, consultants, service providers, entrepreneurs, civic leaders and others collaborate online (using Zoom and Google Docs) to talk about the problems we see. Each week, we learn more about the people involved directly, and indirectly, in the problem. Each week, we execute brief exercises that yield new ideas that lead to potential solutions, and most importantly, each week I am encouraged that we are making progress (and I have proof that we are).
Each week we do something, and it’s making things better.
As a community, I see we are making progress because we are doing something about our circumstance. Our group, other groups, cities, businesses, organizations: we’re all making progress towards solving new problems.
As a problem solver, I see that the programs we have designed for collaboration are working, better than before because people are more motivated for solutions than before. History has proven that a motivated workforce can solve any challenge, however unsurmountable it may first appear.
As a person worried about the future, just like so many others, I feel better because I believe I have a hand in the solutions that will impact my family, my friends, my colleagues and others that need help – now.
I encourage you and your group to #DoSomething. Anything that you think can address our collective need for a new normal – and if you need a hand, just ask. We really are all in this together.