live|work: "I have a dream..."

This post is a little different to my regular ones, it is a 'comment' as opposed to an article, but I think it underpins the philosophy and tone of what we at live|work espouse and I have been sharing with you in my Treehugger posts since June this year. And it is a statement of intent, so no better place to state it than Treehugger. I'd like some feedback on it. (Although I only seem to get a decent quota of feedback/comments when I don't ask for them so perhaps I should ask you to ignore me and we'll see what happens ).

Martin Luther King Jr., innovation and a discussion with Worldchanging.com and The Climate Group are inspiration for my post today. I'd like to talk about the need for a 'bright green vision of the future' in the context of these worldchanging times and the role that innovation can play in this context.On innovation

As a consultant working in service innovation my role at live|work is to identify and present a market of opportunity and new forms of value for or with our clients. Our approach is to seek or work with problem issues and turn them into problem opportunities. We look to identify and then meet unmet needs with clever (service) solutions that make money/save cash and improve lives. And we do this by challenging the dominant product-focussed economic paradigm to deliver effective, connected service-led solutions.

Our goal is quite ambitious We aim is to make these solutions desirable; to design services that have the same functional, emotional and expressive power we look for in products and ensure 'what we do' in the world says something about 'who we are'.

Innovation is, in essence, a forward-looking discipline. It presents a different way of doing things and a vision of the future.

On Worldchanging

live|work met with Alex Steffen from Worlchanging.com and Chris Walker from The Climate Group last week to talk about how we are connecting service innovation with a bright green world ahead and a compelling vision of the future. But we are not environmentalists, sustainable development strategists or environmental engineers. We are all originally trained designers. Are we therefore green frauds?

Or, do we perhaps have the potential to change the way people think about environmentalism, because we aren't those people. And to offer an approach that is solution-orientated and not 'special interest' — ie, that does not position the 'environment' as problem to be dealt with but the context with which we are living and therefore a platform for design problem solving and innovation. After all, a designer' role and instinct is to improve things.

On Martin Luther King Jr.

It seems that few have yet to put out into the world a positive vision of the future in response to environmental problem opportunities (there are some exceptions of course — Braungart and McDonough being my favourite) that is anywhere near competing with the type of transformative vision that Martin Luther King Jr. achieved. Shellenberger and Nordhaus in "Death of Environmentalism" point out that...

"Martin Luther Kings, Jr's "I have a dream speech" is famous because it put an inspiring, positive vision that carried a critique of the current moment within it. Imagine how history would have turned out had King given an "I have a nightmare" speech instead. In the absence of a bold vision and reconsideration of the problem, environmental leaders are effectively giving the "I have a nightmare" speech."

So, is it time for our discipline — innovation — to step up to the challenge and annoy the bugger out of environmentalists (I jest). Time to challenge assumptions and bring forward some new ideas that will change things together with people that have been thinking about this for years AND with consumers and business, because this is not 'special interest'.

I think it is. And live|work have been challenged to articulate a transformative vision of the future and launch some disruptive new services that prove the point. We've got work to do. But here are some of the things we dream about (some which are near reality and we are working on). I will keep you updated on the progress of the vision articulation and service launches.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

I have a dream that every man and woman in this country have access to a user-friendly domestic energy service that rewards me for doing more by using less.

I have a dream of talking directly to a business and sharing my personal data; where I am valued for this and rewarded with tailored/customized services that design out assumptions and waste. And they are rewarded with my attention.

I have a dream of a democratized financials service that simplifies 'good' investments for me and let me choose exactly where my money goes, and that offers me services to invest in energy efficiency or micro generation or other improvements to my life.

I have a dream of commodity markets no longer competing for my attention with bigger, brighter, more expensive products, but services that fulfil the same needs better and change the way I do things.

I have a dream of harnessing the power of what I do by accounting for it and comparing with others around me in my shared networked.

I have a dream of whole mobility solutions and connected transportation, not necessarily more cars on the road.

I have a dream of understanding exactly where my produce has come from and how much weight it carries in packaging and then making choices based on this knowledge;

I have a dream that every man, woman and child in this country will understand that local produce tastes better and is better;

I have a dream of seeing food miles on my Wal Mart bill receipt, earning rewards the less I travel and making local affordable for all.

Back to a more pragmatic reporting for my next post.

Written by Tamara Giltsoff