Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What is Omaha Bikes Reading?

From time to time, here at Omaha Bikes, we share with our readers what we reading. Some of us maintain a rather extensive list of blogs and news sources that we like to visit when we have some time. Here are a few of them. Enjoy the reading and have a Happy New Year.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed at these sites are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Omaha Bikes.


dale said...

Just picked up a couple days ago the "Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2009, Vol 8, No. 1." Cover article: Design Thinking for Social Innovation.

Designers have traditionally focused on enhancing the look and functionality of products. Recently, they have begun using design tools to tackle more complex problems, such as finding ways to provide low-cost health care throughout the world. Businesses were first to embrace this new approach - called design thinking - now nonprofits are beginning to adopt it too.(30)

Traditional management processes, what one might call analytical thinking, are very good at creating iterative improvements to existing ideas, but not as effective at generating innovative, breakthrough ideas. Design thinking, on the other hand, is a management process that was created specifically to generate innovative ideas.

There are several reasons why design thinking leads to innovative ideas. The designers who engage in the process come from a wide variety of disciplines (business, sociology, engineering, logistics, anthropology, and others). The designers get out of their office and into the field to learn how the people they are designing for live and work. And there is a highly structured process for generating, sharing, and sifting through ideas the designers come up with in order to arrive at the best ones.

I wonder if design thinking is something Omaha Bikes would find beneficial? We are trying to be a catylist for social innovation in Omaha. We are diverse (though weighted towards business and engineering, I think). We are in the process of feeling our way through organizing, envisioning, implementing social change.

The design thinking process is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps. There are three steps to keep in mind: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. Think of inspirtation as the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions; ideation as the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas; and implementation as the path that leads from the project stage into people's lives.(33)

Our opportunity is to improve the quality of life in Omaha through biking. We are working on several ideas but need help vetting ideas and prototyping to refine or jetison what doesn't work for our culture and environment. One thing we're missing that design thinking uses is interacting with our intended audience to refine the ideas. Specifically, how to encourage those with bikes just sitting in the garage or who occassionally ride, to ride more and use the bike as a vehicle to accomplish a non biking goal, e.g. shopping, eating out, doctor appointments, etc.

Anyway, like Pedalling Revolution helped cast a vision by learning what other cities are doing, the design thinking process may provide us with innovative ideas to overcome cultural and physical impediments to a magnitudinal improvement in Omaha's quality of life via a biking lifestyle.

Stuart said...

This concept is our mantra at RDG where our mission is to creatively influence life for the better through purpose-driven design. Creighton now offers a Social Entrepeneurship program and is bringing the message with the Social Impact Forum Omaha in February. And the Halo Institute and its start-ups embody design thinking as well.

I agree 100% that OmahaBIKES! needs to operate within the paradigm of design innovation. One way this is already ingrained in our structure is this blog and Bob's ability to bring in collaborators effectively. The group is also orgaized with extreme flexibility and sees as its goal the transformation of our community.

The group is also leaning on partner LiveWell for structural support. We are connected with the League and the group that was previosly organized as Bikeable Communities.

One concept I discussed with Bob recently is merging the work of Community Bike Shop Omaha and OmahaBIKES! While CBSO's core mission is growing social capital through youth mentoring, our group also believes in the transformative power of the bicycle in our larger community. Our vision as CBSO is to open several community bike shops in neighborhoods like North O and South 24th.

OmahaBIKES! mission (I don't have the draft Matt has propsed now) is to help Omahans realize that their bikes can take them places. We'll also help to make it easier when they do get on board by removing barriers and providing resources. The public message and perception our group broadcasts is as or more important than our organizational structure, in my opinion. To that end, I can imagine the programs of CBSO meshing well with the vision for OmahaBIKES! This is at least a year from being feasible due to the work currently under way in each group. However it's something worth some thought now in the name of design thinking.

Omaha Bikes said...

"Omaha Bikes is a community organization that promotes and advocates for improved transportation, utility, and recreational bicycling infrastructure, opportunities, and experiences for the people of Omaha, Nebraska and the surrounding area."

For reference.

Thanks for the Comments Stuart. Dale is coming up with quite a lot of good stuff to consider as we move forward. Stuart, your feedback also been extremely helpful.

AOJules said...

I am currently re-reading the book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

The point of re-reading is to figure out how we can adapt some of those principles to our Omaha Bikes and Safe Routes to School efforts. If anyone else reads it and wants to cawfee tawk about it, let me know! :)

erik said...

thanks for the link.

a great urban theory book i read; "the rise of the creative class" by richard florida. highly recommended, with lots of good recommendations based on economic principles.

Biker Bob said...

Thanks erik. I checked that one out of the library on the way home today.

erik said...

cool. I'm not sure if i agree with the whole thing, but he does present some clear recommendations based on fairly well-supported economic correlations. Framing things in terms economic benefit to the city helps support an argument!