#BTVSMB February Social Hack Thoughts and Mindmapped Notes

Man, what a day!

Just an awesome, awesome experience at the #BTVSMB (That’s Burlington Social Media Breakfast) Social Hack.  (You can learn a bit more about the event by checking out the Free Press article from yesterday’s edition – I even got a little shout out/pub in it, probably due to my eager attitude to attend the event). Ever since my first experience using the IDEO visual brainstorming method (you can read my thoughts about their method of visual brainstorming here), I have been hooked on using the design thinking approach to solving problems.

I use it with clients on business problems, and I look forward to conferences that utilize this stuff to try and solve social problems in workshops.  I find that design thinking can generate solid results in a ridiculously condensed time frame.  Today was just further confirmation of this.

In about 4 hours, teams were able to brainstorm a myriad of solutions to different local food challenges in Vermont, which were presented by the Vermont Farm to Plate initiative (part of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund), as well as some Dept of Ag peeps.  One of the most innovative sectors in Vermont has to be our food systems.  There are so many smart people here doing powerful and innovative work.  I think it is one of the shining examples of the cooperative attitude in the Vermont business community.  We are national leaders in this space, and still have opportunities to grow and innovate.  Any opportunity to add to that world (and feel a part of it for a day) makes me feel lucky to be living here in the BTV.

In just under four hours (including lunch I think!), the teams (which were filled with people that either never met before or were mere acquaintances) were able to define, ideate, prototype, and share a solution to a local food challenge.  Some of the highlights:

  • A mobile CSA that would be trackable using social and gps, and would provide customized food delivery based on each customer’s preferences.
  • A TurboFarm platform (great name) which would provide instant market information for farmers so that they could know how to better price their foodstuffs (and where there was a need).
  • ate 0 2 (think 802 baby!), a mobile gaming platform which would allow you to source local food and get points for buying/cooking with it.  (Best name by far)
  • The Core Card (part of the Apple A Day universal benefits initiative) which would provide consumers a discount on local food in exchange for data that could be shared with their employers, the State of Vermont, and insurance companies to strengthen wellness programs and reduce obesity in the workforce.
  • An app which would allow people to quickly generate ideas for meals using existing stuff that they already have.
  • A CSA mobile app which would allow you to find CSA’s, swap out your surplus veggies that you don’t want with someone else that might want them, AND host/attend local community dinners.
And those are just the ideas that made it to the finals.  I know that there were at least three killer ideas that didn’t make it into our group’s final pitch (Vermunchables, the local food version of Munchables!).
The day was kicked off with a bang, as we had two wonderful presenters, Richard Ting of R/GA and Liz Gerber of Design For America.  Props to Rich Nadworny and Nicole Ravlin for getting people who are quite literally global thought leaders to speak here.  We are lucky.  I was so psyched to meet Liz Gerber (I think she was like, whoa dude, cool out with the enthusiasm for design thinking solving the worlds problems!) and hear more about what she is doing.
I mindmapped the notes from the kickoff speakers for those that weren’t able to attend, check them out below (click on the image twice to full embiggen):

All in all, just a killer day. I had fun, worked together with a team of incredibly intelligent people, and felt like I had an opportunity to do something that mattered.  Not a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon in February.

Did you go today?  What did you think?  What were the highlights for you?  Did I miss anything?