News and blog posts from our students and faculty

Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Cow’s Search for Her Wizard.

(A short story on social entrepreneurship based on readings from our theory class.)

A Cow’s Search for Her Wizard.

The usual characters gathered around the new hour school bus at AC4D. Ruby and Alex were handing over the keys to Jordache, wishing her farewell on her roadtrip to find her version of a wizard. The wizard she was looking for was a social entrepreneur, one that could help Jordache think in a disruptive and generative manner to save her farm so her friends could continue to live free and healthy. Her land was about to be sold to a corporate farm that valued shareholder wealth instead of a triple bottom line. Jordache tried googling it, but didn’t come up with anything – not because it was hard to type with her hooves, because there just didn’t seem to be one answer to her problem. She needed to collaborate with someone that had courage and determination to help find a better solution, but where would she find this person?

Jordache set off first to San Francisco, the land of the startups to see if she could find her wizard. She was disappointed to only come across greedy capitalists that were stuck tapping away behind their computers, not willing to help unless it meant more money in their pockets.  “But you have to help,” she exclaimed, “you know how to capture value!” Yunus saw her struggling and consoled her, explaining that she was in the wrong place; she needed to find someone that also valued social and environmental metrics and make them a priority. But Jordache questioned, “how?” Dees suggested that they needed a change agent that could do thesese things, along with seeing possibilities and opportunities that others had a hard time doing under current conditions.

The threesome headed across the open road to the east coast, and came across Spears, who was hitchhiking to Detroit. Maybe the wizard was there? Spears took them on a tour of the city, and gently let Jordache down – he or she was nowhere to be found. They only saw vandalized buildings and stripped away cars. Spears explained that the people of the city weren’t at fault, they weren’t able to control their actions like they should. They were forced to make the best out of the limited choices with the knowledge they had. They ran across LeDantec staring sadly into one of the buildings, drawing balls of tangled yarn with his finger into the dusty, broken windows around the words, ‘transportation,’ ‘housing,’ ‘technology,’ ‘food,’ and ‘healthcare.’ He just kept repeating, “wicked problems, wicked problems, wicked problems,” over and over under his breath. They couldn’t budge him, he said that he had to stay and be with the people if he were going to try to help them. They left him there, but quickly ran across Baumol who tried to explain the situation: the Detroit car manufacturers weren’t able to create an energy efficient car because of the rules of the oil game, and they lost the automobile industry battle because of it. Discouraged by the misguided entrepreneurial allocations, they headed south to find a wizard that practiced productive wizardry.

Eek! Jordache spotted what she thought was the wicked witch of the east, but low and behold, it was just a student of Prahalad, selling satchets of soap to the displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. They picked up Rittel on the side of the road, who told them that the student didn’t mean to create so much garbage as a result, but he wasn’t very inspired and didn’t have the right value proposition. His one answer to a wicked problem was just a symptom of another unique problem. Karnani looked on, wishing that the student would employ the victims in making the soap, instead of making them spend what little money they had on it. Jordache was on the verge of giving up, and steered the bus back towards Austin. She even passed a guy that looked like Tim Brown holding a sign that said, “I don’t need a faster horse, I just need AC4D. Austin or Bust.” She thought it was odd, but decided to take the risk and pick him up. She drove through the night with her crew of literary companions, tossing 5 Hour Energies back like they were Pez.

Jordache pulled into town at dawn, her head was hung low, but she was excited by the glow of a tent over the AC4D house. Had she not seen this before? Martin was drinking his coffee on the front steps, and wondered how could she not have seen this before? The people who had put up the tent of social fortitude had always been there. And inside, she found not one wizard to help her farm, but many.

The END.

Posted in Classes | Leave a comment

Social Entrepreneur: The Card Game

We students at the Austin Center For Design have been reading and discussing the idea of social entrepreneurship lately. Social entrepreneurs are individuals who are willing to start risky, innovative entities that both create profit and make people’s lives better. In one paper which we explored the authors, Roger Martin and Sally Osberg, argued that entrepreneurship is “a special, innate ability”. I disagree. While many seem convinced that only exceptionally motivated and intensely talented people can be successful entrepreneurs, I instead believe that environmental factors have a much more important role in encouraging social entrepreneurs to emerge. If we want to promote social entrepreneurship we should be less focused on the task of unearthing these super-people and more focused on creating an environment that this behavior to thrive. I have created a card game to show how important the environment is in the promotion or discouragement of social entrepreneurs. Print the cards and give it a try! Here are the rules:

Game Contents
- 6 Nontrepreneur cards
- 40 Entrepreneur level up cards
- 24 Obstacle cards
- 24 Opportunity cards
- 24 Wicked Problem Cards
- 50 Financial profit cards
- 50 Social profit cards
- 1 Die

How to Win
Gain the most many financial and social profit cards before the game ends.

Set Up
Shuffle the opportunity, obstacle, and wicked problem cards into a single deck. Place the social profit, financial profit, and level up cards in three separate piles. Give each player a nontrepreneur card.

How to Play
Everyone starts at a level zero entrepreneur or “nontrepreneur”. Players take turns drawing a card from the main deck. If they draw a wicked problem card, they must fight the problem. If they draw an opportunity or obstacle card they must level up or down the indicated levels.

How to Fight
Compare your current level to that of the problem. If your level is lower, you lose the fight and gain nothing. If your level is equal or higher you may roll the die and collect the corresponding number financial cards. Then roll the die again and collect the corresponding number of social cards.

Game End
The game is over when the main deck is exhausted. Then every player counts his or her social and financial cards. The player with the greatest total sum of cards wins!

Have fun!

Download the Social Entrepreneur Cards >

Posted in Classes, Social Innovation, Theory | Leave a comment

Social Entrepreneurship discussed and defined

Below is what I envision being a poster highlighting thoughts and opinions on social entrepreneurship. I tried to be very simple and iconographic while giving the viewer the opportunity to get a decent amount of information as well. Some of the smaller text may be hard to read. If so you can download a PDF below.

Social Entrepreneurship Icons

Posted in Classes | Leave a comment

Design Snacks, #6

Here’s our next Design Snack, on Play and Creativity:

Posted in Design Snacks, Reflection | Leave a comment

The Need for Defining Social Entrepreneurism as told through Dante’s Inferno

Posted in Classes, Social Innovation, Theory | Leave a comment

Welcome new faculty member Kevin McDonald!

Please join us in welcoming new faculty member Kevin McDonald.

Kevin leads the user experience and design efforts at Spredfast – an Austin-based startup that provides large corporations and brands with enterprise-level solutions in the social media management space. Prior to joining Spredfast, Kevin spent two and a half years at Dell creating applications for the company’s consumer lines of products. And before Dell, Kevin spent five and a half years as a Principal Designer at frog design.

Kevin holds a BA in History and Economics from the College of William and Mary and earned a Master’s degree in Human Computer Interaction from Georgia Tech, where he conducted research in the Everyday Computing Laboratory – a unit of the Graphics, Visualization and Usability Center.

Welcome, Kevin!

Posted in AC4D In The News, Design Education | Leave a comment

Design Snacks #5

Mmmm, delicious design snack: Jon Kolko discusses Design Synthesis.

Posted in Design Snacks, Theory | Leave a comment

Pocket Hotline in French Publication

Pocket Hotline is described in an article in Les Affaires, an online French publication: Pocket Hotline permet de partager des connaissances à votre communauté en créant une ligne téléphonique sur un sujet qui vous passionne.

Read the whole article – in French – here.

Posted in AC4D In The News, Startups | Leave a comment

HourSchool and Alex Pappas featured in The Communicator

Check out alumni Alex Pappas in The Communicator, discussing HourSchool:

“In Alex Pappas’s view, everyone in the community has something to offer, from the poorest to the richest. Anyone can be a teacher. You don’t have to be an expert or have a teaching degree to share your knowledge. This is the idea that Hour School is promoting.”

Read the whole article here.

Posted in AC4D In The News, Startups | Leave a comment

Design Snacks #4

Here’s Design Snack #4, on Design Process:

Posted in Design Snacks, Reflection, Theory | Leave a comment