Steven Johnson to present at LSC 2012

Following the co-design collaboration we ran with Ontario Ministry of Health and Toronto-based Rain43, we were asked to present at the Leading Social Change 2012 conference at MARRS, downtown Toronto. Leading Social Change is an annual conference that gathers behaviour change specialists from around the world to discuss and showcase emerging approaches to the Canadian change community.

In addition to the closed session we ran with the Ontario policy team, we were asked to present a Collaborative Change case study for the Creative Showcase plenary. We wanted to make the point that authentic, community-based insight is not only the foundational component of a successful intervention or service, but can act as a springboard for innovation.

We thought that OD999—a project we designed to engage intravenous drug users and reduce overdose deaths—provided the perfect illustration of this. In terms of our principle of operating within existing value sets, the user community is possibly as far away from the mainstream as you can get, calling for intelligent and sensitive engagement to understand the factors that define the behaviour within it.

We introduced our presentation using the ‘window on a world’ analogy: whilst more traditional social research approaches build a window on a world, Collaborative Change creates a door through which we can step into people’s lives.

In order to bring this principle to life and move as far as possible from the powerpoint deck, we created a day-in-the-life film, shot through the eyes of Jay, an intravenous drug user. In taking this approach, we hoped to provide the conference delegation their door into this chaotic lifestyle and illustrate in no uncertain terms how radical the difference can be between our world and that of the communities we seek to engage. From this realisation, it’s only a small step to an understanding of the need for more innovative approaches to insight and design, such as Collaborative Change.

I was worried that the graphic nature of our case study film might overstep the mark with a conservative North Atlantic audience, or that it would be mistaken for the campaign itself (shock tactics are something we resist as a matter of principle). However, the contemplative silence across the conference hall as the film faded to black, combined with the animated discussion, questions and enquiries fielded for the rest of the day gave us confidence that we hit the right note.

 > Click here to view OD999 case study film.


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