Disruptive innovation, content curation and design thinking are buzzworthy terms that, despite their possible overuse, describe substantive and meaningful concepts with broad application across many disciplines. Design thinking, the application of design principles to solve problems, is being applied in a variety of fields, including business and industry, healthcare, education, and the law.
IDEO, a global design firm based on Palo Alto, is often credited as the architect of design thinking, and David Kelley, IDEO’s founder, is, not surprisingly, a strong advocate for this inventive problem-solving method. Along with his brother Tom (IDEO’s marketing manager), David Kelley has built a creativity engine that generates some of the most innovative ways of solving problems from the everyday to the exceptional. The brothers also write and speak about creativity and innovation in hopes of inspiring others to use design principles in their personal and professional endeavors.
One of their titles in particular, The Ten Faces of Innovation (written by Tom Kelley), resonates with many who work in law, tech, or at the intersections of these two fields as, increasingly, every lawyer must. Mr. Kelley discusses in some detail the different roles that each person on a team might play and the contributions that each member of a working group might bring to a problem-solving effort. One of those critical roles is that of the cross-pollinator, the person who “draws associations and connections between seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts to break new ground,” precisely the kind of thinking that’s required in the burgeoning field of public interest technology, a new and rapidly evolving area of practice that allows trained technologists to leverage their knowledge and skills for the benefit of the social good.
By combining tech expertise with fields such as public service, healthcare, criminal justice, education, immigration, child welfare, and the law, cross-pollinators are the perfect kinds of people to work in public interest tech.
To learn more about public interest tech, visit these sites:
Public interest Tech: A Growing Field You Should Know (Ford Foundation)
Public Interest Technology: About (New America)
Navigating Complexity in Pursuit of Public Interest Technology (Blue Ridge Labs)
Building our Technology Policy Future (Alan Davidson for Medium.com)
Navigating the Field of Civic Tech (Derek Poppert for Medium.com)
Also, because it’s voting season, we call your attention to these public interest/civic tech initiatives that are designed to increase turn-out at the polls and ensure a fair and accessible voting experience for all of the electorate: