What happens when critical pieces are removed from your community? What is impacted? What is introduced in its place?

These are the challenges that social entrepreneur Toby Chambers put to a passionate group of social innovators on a Friday night in Fire Station 101.

An exercise to prepare for change

Toby Chambers Social Innovation

We are experiencing constant change. Technology is creating and removing entire industries at a significant rate. The opportunities and challenges these changes present to communities are widespread and pervasive.

Facilitator Toby Chambers guided a group of social entrepreneurs at Fire Station 101 through a workshop that helped equip the leaders with a unique approach to prepare for these changes. These entrepreneurs came from a range of backgrounds including HR executives, designers, nurses, executive coaches, artists, environmentalists, marketers, dentists, accountants, government employees, lawyers, and more.

After splitting the group into four teams, the different backgrounds of the participants allowed for unique perspectives in a three-step scenario-testing process for assessing community impact.

In Step One, each team selected a locality or region to map.  This could be as small as a room in a building or as large as a nation. Each team drew their region in a way that represented their perspective.

In Step Two, the teams were asked to take away a physical element from their map and identify what the region gained and what the region lost as a result.

Step Three involved each team then adding in an element to address what was removed. The new element ideally would be able to address the negative impacts without minimising the new positive impacts.

The results

Each of the four teams used different localities.

One team mapped out Sydney and removed the Sydney Opera House, identifying the impacts on Tourism, while presenting opportunities for new forms of tourism to emerge and engaging the global community in the redevelopment project.

Another team mapped out their local community and noted the large number of fast food locations.  They chose to remove McDonald’s as a case study, and explored options for other local forms of food convenience that emerged.

A third team mapped out Queensland and explored a State without fences.  This seemingly ridiculous option opened up rich conversations about what boundaries are helpful in the community and what new technologies could be introduced to better serve that purpose.

A fourth team stayed local by mapping an Ipswich without hospitals. The immediate implications on health were obvious, but the exercise allowed the group to explore new, innovative ways to deliver distributed, virtual healthcare in the absense of a centralised physical location.

Team 1: Removing the Sydney Oprah House

Team 1 mapping it out

Team 1 mapping out Sydney


Team 1 presentation

Team 1 presenting options after removing the Sydney Opera House

Team 2: A local community without McDonald’s

Team 2 mapping their local community

Team 2 mapping their local community

Team 2 presenting new eating opportunties

Team 2 presenting new eating opportunities

Team 3: Queensland without fences

Team 4 mapping Queensland

Team 3 mapping Queensland

Team 4 presenting a world without fences

Team 3 presenting a world without fences

Team 4: An Ipswich without hospitals

Team 4 mapping Ipswich

Team 4 mapping Ipswich

Team 4 presenting an Ipswich without hospitals

Team 4 presenting an Ipswich without hospitals

Fire Station 101 and platforms for social innovation

Two conditions create fuel to ignite the spark of innovation:

  • a cross-section of diverse ideas, and
  • the introduction of constraints.

The workshop leveraged both conditions for participants to look outside the box and identify opportunities for change.

What would you remove in your organisation or community? What would be impacted?  What would you put in its place? Having this conversation with people outside of your immediate circle can help introduce entire new innovations and opportunities.

Fire Station 101 facilitates conversations about innovation, new business growth, and social change in Ipswich.  Positive change can only happen with the input from all aspects of the community.

Please sign up for our newsletter and contact us directly if you would like to be a part of these conversations or if you would like to have a dedicated conversation about innovation specific to your organisation or community.

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