On Sharing Power

A fellow Terry Scholar from UT Austin emailed me asking about design research, and I was re-reading this blogpost that I wrote about my time at the Austin Center for Design researching homelessness as part of my “Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship” program.

As I was re-reading, I thought of two things I would add to this conversation so thought I would blog them here:


Over the past two years my friend Jess Rimington has been researching what leads to true innovation, e.g solutions that break out of the current system and into the beginning of a new world.  She’s just summarized her and her co-author, Joanna Cea’s, findings in a feature article in Stanford Social Innovation Review: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/creating_breakout_innovation

Although I think the headline “Creating Breakout Innovation” sells the piece short, I think it’s worth a read because it’s a different way of approaching things that’s rooted in co-design and sharing power and community-engaged solutions:

1. Share power

2. Prioritize relationships

3. Leverage heterogeneity

4. Legitimize all ways of knowing

5. Prototype early and often



George Aye of Greater Good Studio talked during SXSW about power and understanding power dynamics that affect client relationships in design for social good projects.

(Relatedly, I still haven’t read the whole book, but Adam Kahane also has a book that’s on CCA Social Lab students’ reading list entitled Power and Love: A Theory and Practice of Social Change.)

Important stuff. Like I said in my blogpost, these address the “tensions around how to tackle the social justice issues that are so interwoven within social impact work.”

P.S. AC4D is expanding to a new space and has room for more students. Apps for 2018-19 school year open til July 1st. Click here for more details.

P.P.S. I wrote a Dear Beloved letter about what I learned about making art from the Neo-Futurists, but it’s also about sharing power.


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