Staples Canada is leading a major business transformation, moving from being an office retail supply store to one anchored in building a community for small businesses. The strategy is to evolve their stores into a national network of co-working spaces (super smart!). The first concept store, located in Downtown Toronto opened last week. I'm working with them for the next few weeks to build out a strategy around programming, culture, and community.
Few early observations/thoughts:
The first step to building community is trust-- which in a co-working space begins with nailing the basics: comfortable furniture, an available seat, reliable internet, and keeping your service promise. If you can't get these right, you don't have a solid foundation to build from.
Communities are anchored in a shared story --- what is a story that feels authentic to a space that has had a story for over 30 years? How is this story formed?
Early stage of community building requires intention and dedicated leadership to set the culture and model behavior -- before you open the space for everyone to contribute
WHAT MAKES A CITY
JAN 10, 2019
Over the holidays, I visited four major European cities -- Dublin, Belfast, Prague, and Vienna. In each one, I tried to get a feel for what the soul of the city was.
My observational analysis came down a few common factors:
Availability and quality of public transportation & green space
Use or absence of color in architecture
The street food(s) of choice, and how it was made available
Who the most vulnerable community was in the city, and how they were treated
The history of immigration and industrialization, and its impact on evolving monocultures
Relationship with street art, graffiti, stickering and busker
LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER
NOV 28, 2018
I just wrapped being part of a play, with my mother. A sentence I never knew I would write. Like Mother, Like Daughter was a play developed by Ravi Jain of Why Not Theatre and Complicite (a London-based theatre company), that brought together mother/daughter pairs for a 60-min unscripted conversation through a game format, followed by a shared meal with the audience. At the end of three shows, I felt an immense amount of peace knowing that I had this profound keep-sake experience with my mother that would always be ours.
The biggest lesson I took away from this experience from a design perspective was using games to catalyze vulnerability. The format was genius in its simplicity -- we were invited to play a "game" and pick up pre-written cards with questions on them to ask one another. Questions we usually would not ask one another; sidetracked by the most current events in our lives, and shy to change the conversation dynamic. But, the use of a card allowed us to break our barriers, go deep, learn about our true feelings, desires, and dreams, and feel more connected than we had in years, maybe ever -- all under the guise of a "game."