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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Monday 12 December 2011

How amazing are you?

I’ve just come from an interesting ping pong of ideas around the tennis table of Sidekick Studios, who help support the development of new enterprise solutions such as the Amazings.  

I’m loving the simplicity and focus of The Amazings.  It’s very advantaged thinking: give a platform for people retired or coming up to retirement to offer their ‘amazing’ skill and experience from life in return for payment.  From blow drying and chocolate tasting, to woodland art and street photography, the Amazings remind us that as a society we too often under value the talents of those either side of the transition into and out of working adulthood.   I’m hoping that by the time I reach retirement, retirement won’t exist. We’ll all be too busy amazing each other.

Of course, young people are just as amazing. Anyone who has seen how a young person can light up a room of adults knows that.  Indeed, my mind is instantly taken back to a workshop in Plymouth Foyer this year, where a young person spent the whole day refering to himself - rightly so - as 'amazing'.The concept and platform for the Amazings should be a prompt for us to think more about the talents that young people have to offer from their own lives. The things we classify into boxes as disadvantages and problem behaviours, such as homelessness, can also sometimes contain their own powerful learning opportunities. Just look at Unseen Tours’ to see how individuals can be supported to turn their experience of the streets into an enterprising service.   It’s a question of the flip-vision: what have we got to use and offer?

 All this reminds me of  an equally amazing discussion with the charismatic CEO of People Can, Maff Potts, when he was at the Department for Communities and Local Government many years ago. We were shaping a concept for a prospective new service in London working with those from homeless and other backgrounds. The idea was to scrap the traditional deficit-based initial assessment process that normally awaits someone walking into the service, and instead offer each person just two profound questions: What have you got to offer? What do you want to take away?  I’m still in love with that idea.  So much so, that I shall post the question to anyone reading this blog. What have you got to offer as an advantaged thinker? And what do you want to take away?  Please tell me.

I wonder if David Cameron was asking himself those questions when he was negotiating the EU treaty.  If he was, I expect the word in his head was ‘bugger all’.  But as an advantaged thinker, I suppose there is the chance that he was holding onto the hope that Britain’s banking sector might become the new Switzerland.  What was it that Orson Wells said in The Third Man about cuckoo clocks….?

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