Armory Center Workshop
Using art to teach business acumen and business model design.
On August 1st, as part of the “After Victor Papanek: The Future Is Not What It Used To Be” exhibition at the Armory Center in Pasadena, Models of Impact was brought on to design a workshop experience for museum-goers which would engage them in the design of business models for social change. The exhibition, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and curated by Jeff Cain, focuses on Papanek’s pioneering influence on human-centered design, and design for social impact.
From the museum: “Papanek did not believe in patents, feeling they stymied innovation and prevented urgent design solutions from reaching their audiences. After Victor Papanek: The Future Is Not What It Used To Be pairs reproductions of Papanek’s original unpatented plans and drawings with realized projects by artists and art teams that offer interpretations of those original plans, using Papanek’s works as ‘prompts’ or ‘scores’ for the creation of new work by contemporary artists.”
Armed with a piece of colorful paper, scissors, and an army of colorful markers, participants worked in groups of two through a series of guided art-making activities. With each prompt/design constraint that was unveiled, participants learned about a different model of impact. The following is the full curriculum, in case you would like to try this at home.
What you need:
A group of friends (or strangers! at least 2, but ideally ~12), two pieces of 8.5″ x 11″ paper, scissors, tape, and markers (an assortment of color is best, but not required).
Fill the page by drawing your favorite person, place, or thing. Once you’ve finished your drawing, tell your partner about what you drew. What makes this your favorite person, place, or thing? Now, cut your drawing in half, landscape, and exchange half of the drawing with your partner. Tape the two pieces together to make a new whole.
Model of Impact: Give-Half, A model that allows service-providers to increase company bandwidth while simultaneously lowering overall company overhead in order to allocate time and resources toward a 50% pro-bono commitment. Example Brands: verynice, No Typical Moments, filmanthropos, Soul Bucket.
Using a new color, draw whatever you ate for lunch on top of the new page. Tell your partner about your lunch — why did you eat that? Where did you get it? Cut a vertical strip off your page, however wide or narrow you prefer, and exchange strips with your partner. Tape the two pieces together to make a new whole.
Model of Impact: Percentage (%) Inventory, A model in which businesses dedicate a set percentage of their inventory to be donated to individuals/ communities/organizations in need. Example Brands: Microsoft, Kraft Foods, Google, Marriott International, Pfizer
Using a new color, draw a word or phrase that represents something you believe in, that you would like to share with the world, and make sure others care about, too.
Model of Impact: Social Awareness, A business in the service or product-oriented business space that is dedicated to inventing products or delivering services that raise awareness around a significant cause or issue. Example Brands: Sevenly, Falling Whistles, KONY (Invisible Children), Buena Nota
Individually, but in consultation with your partner, think of something simple (like a ball), and ask everyone in the room to draw it on your page. This can be as big or as small as you would like, and can be in any color, too!
Model of Impact: CrowdSourcing, An organization or platform that serves as a connecting point between service providers or volunteers and organizations or projects in need. Example Brands: Taproot Foundation, Catchafire, MobileWorks, Volunteer Match
Give the whole page to your partner. Yup, the whole page.
Model of Impact: 100% Profit/Revenue, A model in which a company in the service or product-oriented business space donates 100% of their profits or revenues on a yearly, quarterly, or more frequent basis. This is most common amongst non-profit organizations or private foundations, but has been leveraged in the private sector, historically. Example Brands: Charity Water, Newman’s Own, Made by DWC (Downtown Women’s Center)
Discuss the drawing with your partner. What interesting combinations of words/images are you drawn to on the page? What has been your favorite model explored, thus far? After discussing for a bit, set a timer to 60 seconds, and draw whatever your partner wants, on top of the page.
Model of Impact: Pro-Bono Marathons, Also known as “done in a day.” A model in which service-providers undertake a pro-bono project in one intensive session that typically lasts for 24 hours and leverages all human resources for that day to maximize impact. Example Brands: Global Service Jam, CreateAthon
Once you’ve satisfied the request of your partner, put the page in the middle of the room, alongside all of the other groups’ works. The facilitator will then document each piece to put online, and as a group you will have to decide who keeps the drawings, and what should be done with the collection.
Model of Impact: Open-Source, Products that are typically available for free or for low cost that allow the end users to build upon an existing framework in order to develop new solutions that can scale across industry or region. Example Brands: Processing, Thingiverse, Arduino
To be honest, a workshop centered around art-making was quite an obvious solution, given the fact that we were being hosted by an art museum. However, a more surprising discovery was that art-making revealed itself to be the most ideal method for talking about business models, regardless of location.
By working together to create something new, using fragments of moments and of objects, we were able to embody a theory close to our hearts at verynice and Models of Impact: giving back does not mean that anything is lost, but instead something new is found/created.
The design of business is a purely speculative practice until a model is tested in the market and iterated upon. In reality, you can only learn so much by reading case studies, or looking at slides full of shiny pie charts. As a result, by using art, and the ethos of “learning through making”, we are able to design a tangible experience that mimics the inner-workings of several models in a light-hearted, and accessible manner.
Recently, the exhibition was captured in an inspiring catalog designed by Willem Henri Lucas. We are proud to have our workshop featured in the catalog!