This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.

It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.

It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New Community Paradigms Design Team at Design Thinking Action Lab

Just started, as was mentioned yesterday, an online course through the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (aka dschool), Design Thinking Action Lab taught by Leticia Britos Cavagnaro.

While past posts have followed and commented on Design Thinking, this is the first course attempted on the subject.  This then is another new area of exploration. Though, if one does decide to immerse one’s self in the concepts and methodologies of Design Thinking then Stanford is the place to do it.  

The ongoing New Community Paradigms effort not only supplied the name for the newly formed class team but also the rationale behind it.  This was also included as a part of the more personal introductory ‘Reflect on Your Mindset’ assignment. 

Design Thinking is interesting and relevant to New Community Paradigms because it is both solution oriented and inclusive, intentionally bringing in a variety of perspectives to face a challenge.  Just as important, those perspectives are not limited to only those with a particular area of expertise.  This means it could prove useful to a diverse group of community members coming together to discuss problems, say with traffic and school crossings or other community challenges.  

The New Community Paradigms Team now has two other members, both from California, with two additional Californians expected soon as well as another team member from Vellore, India. I sent out an additional seven other invitations. Teams are allowed to have up to six active members.  I read somewhere on the course site that there are 20,000 plus people taking the class.  The class is available to anyone on the globe but one could imagine 20,000 in a common geographical location.  There are hundreds of groups of learning teams being formed.  The New Community Paradigms team started forming later than a number of other teams.  There was no connection with any of the other team members before this. One was contacted through a random search of California students who weren’t on a team yet. The rest requested to be on the team. The point is that the connections were not based on past shared history or similar experiences but a shared outlook or common purpose, perhaps. 

This illustrates some of the challenges of creating a platform for meaningful, self-directed community engagement that was inclusive of a variety of perspectives and even different agendas.  Usually we get engaged at the behest of someone else for a specific project, cause or event like an election. New Community Paradigms not only seeks to change what we are doing but also how we are doing it. Networking is going to likely be essential with small groups networking into increasingly larger ones but still keeping their own identity.  No matter how viable Design Thinking is as a means of addressing challenges, it makes no matter if we cannot first get enough of the right members of the community into the same room so learning about Design Thinking is only a first step.  Also need to determine a way to incorporated into a community based setting.  

It is expected though that Design Thinking can help with that challenge by assisting with designing flexible workspace, connecting different people and devising a common process of creative and innovative problem solving.  

Another area with which Design Thinking can have an impact is with the concept of complexity.  At this early point in the class a working premise is that Design Thinking could help navigate the maze inherent with complex challenges.  One related question raised by the forum for the class is ‘How comfortable are you with uncertainty?’  Will look to examining these questions in future posts.

Past Posts