Reflecting on activating a Smart city.
Last week we held the 100th event under my day job as manager of the city-wide activation programme Collider.
Each activation has been an opportunity to learn, explore plus move closer to a concept of how best serve the digital, creative and technological ecosystem and transform the city into a Smart capital.
This three year (Wellington City Council funded and BizDojo delivered) programme, is a bold attempt at raising the capability of a region.
As we near the end of the first year the time to reflect seems appropriate and here are some learnings:
- variety is key—the usual sage-on-the-stage presentations is now mixed with seminars, workshops, masterclasses, roundtables, one-to-ones, mentoring etc, ensuring all tastes and learning styles are catered for. It’s also a trial of see what fits and sticks, plus what formats can be morphed and realigned with others;
- reframing was important—originally, many were describing the piece of work as an umbrella although the quick reframe as a scaffold (supporting existing good projects and initiatives whilst filling in the gaps to create a broad foundation) made it more accessible. It was also gentler as there’s a huge amount of good work in the city and moving forward with humility has been crucial;
- trying is better than not—as you can read from some of the highlighted choices in this blog post review, there’s been some fun goes at changing the offer. Merging disciplines and styles is always a step into the unknown although excited we had the opportunity to try;
- capacity is the biggest issue—a four-day-a-week (which is what I negotiated before I start to ensure I can still produce the most creative TEDx event in the world), does not leave a lot of time other than nailing KPI’s (which we are with a little added on top). Reflection is still needed although the accepted transition into a more quality-versus-quantity mode has ignited the creative possibilities;
- hidden impact—the softer side of running an activation programme is in the connections made, the conversations had, the thoughts sparked, the ideas inspired etc. The stuff incredibly hard to monitor or track, however, can be found in the stories shared back and the side chats had. It’s the fabric which builds communities of practice and the stuff which amplifies opportunities.
Here’s the next 100 and year two with an emphasis on audacious activations which make the world take notice.
Changing tracks and prototyping a smart city programme.
I’m two months into a new role as Activation Manager for BizDojo, the largest co-working space in Australasia.
The post is funded by Wellington City Council and focuses on a programme called Collider:
Our purpose is to transform Wellington into an innovation capital and an internationally recognised Smart city by activating an effective creative, digital and technology ecosystem.
This basically means developing and delivering a series of event, activations and collaborations with existing service providers whilst also creating new opportunities as a way to fill the gaps between current operations.
Nestled in a vibrant and stimulating environment, surrounded by a kick-ass team who have collaboration as part of their DNA plus a community of ambitious residents, this is exciting opportunity to serve the city and hopefully add value in its continuing development as the creative capital of New Zealand.
The role came at a time I was considering opportunities overseas and against a growing tiredness of a decade in the social media sector. Making the decision to take the job was a commitment to the three year funded programme (success being the continuation and wider evolvement of such a venture due to its impact).
So it’s back to getting up every morning, putting on pants and going somewhere to do a job, and that feels good to me…
Two fast-paced, highly-edited and short-form-doco style films exploring trends in interaction and experience design.
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
Connecting Series is a collaboration between Microsoft Design and Bassett & Partners. The following films have a monstrous amount of sweeping statements, provocative questions and leading thoughts, although do provide an insight into the amount of innovative happening out there:
When everyone is a maker, new possibilities emerge, but with them come new responsibilities about digital transparency, cultural awareness, and the role of the designer.
When digital and physical worlds become one, new behaviors become possible, enabling connected humans with a collective capacity to change the world.
For me, these two films hint at the wider ideas of play, collaboration, experimention, failure, mashups etc—what do you think?