Love it. Having fun, working on the seemingly unsolvable problem, with a technique that I found useful in my consulting practice. I use a modified version of brainwriting. Formulating the problem or scenario is especially fun for me. (Thank you Peter Schwartz.) As always, current events were cooperative.
Please allow some elaboration.
The club's President, bless her heart, had met me at a Staying Connected function, was interested in my "thought" library. (I had read Tim Brown's book some time ago, which I would say was okay, but not revelational, like my favs Godin, Gladwell, Johnson and Pink.)
Other than, Seriously you want me to speak to your club (?) I am not even working professionally anymore ... My main question: What subject? Environment, energy, golf, numerology, and my latest passion, understanding and solving the problems presented by present and future mental illness in America (I'd love to design think this one next year).
Honestly speaking, I tired of the environmental profession. (Like every other profession ... it has become much too licensed and institutionalized. At some point in your life, please read Atlas Shrugged. The book explains why I prefer working at a golf course and seek a version of Shangri-La.) I met with the Club President's leadership cohort (very encouraging and inspiring person, as well. Nice to know young people who see something of value in a professional escapee). They patiently listened for an hour as I explained how life had changed for me, my passions shifted. My recognition of how short life is. And, then they said, paraphrasing:
We have looked at your e-mails, your LinkedIn page, your blog, and are thinking that you should talk about energy. How about "The Hour of Power with Corey Trench ('76)?
Through February and early March, working with the two of them, a W&M-returning, ex-pro baseball player, and my son who knows energy, born were the ingredients of the "Hour of Power," which I see that Glenn Beck has since adopted for his TV show. (Ha, ha. Great minds ... discover the obvious. That which we prefer not to see.)
What excited the students was my proclamation, I would not give a speech, rather I would facilitate an exercise that worked off a scenario. I gave them an example: In the winter of 1995 (or '96, I forget): I proposed to a group of coal ash managers that President Bush was thinking of changing the nation's strategic fuel from coal to natural gas. And, Bush has asked this group to persuade him as to why he should not make the adjustment.
Well, how fun is that! I was practically thrown out of the room. Thought to be crazy. (True.) The night before I entered the room, the soon to be ex-Executive Director (ex- for an entirely different reason) was concerned that I would be leading a lynching session. (This always happens. Leaders, stakeholders want to know what you are going to do to them, so that they can take aspirin, bring supplies, prepare speeches the night before. Never has gone this way for me. Never.)
Long pause. The participants thought for a moment, realized I would be paid, they had flown to a hotel room near Cincinnati's airport, would be fed, and went to work in three groups of six. (I even talked a future client of mine into skipping a DOE workshop on biofuels, in the same hotel, to come to mine instead. Owing to the innovation of fracking, he has been working with the natural gas industry for the past several years.)
While the scenario was intended to prompt creative thought ... design thinking ... I hear from some of these guys about natural gas ... for years now, as if I had had advanced notice. Nope.
The general public, for whatever reason, seems to believe that purveyors of electrical energy deliberately want to harm people (customers) (and the environment on which they depend), while they bill them for the services that their customers require (can't do without, presently). That's the ugly side of reality: We need energy. A lot of it. Available at the flick of a light switch. Sure, we can do without for an hour, voluntarily, but how about involuntarily for several hours, several days, a month, several months?
Yes, I love everything contrary and opposite. How do we think otherwise? I don't get it ... sometimes.
For one-hour, the W&M Design Thinking Club considered and design thought on this fictitious scenario.
W&M President Reveley hasn't been sleeping well. He's been reading the news about solar flares, the consequences of terrorism for the power grid, and thinking about the possibility of another major storm, like Sandy, for the campus. What would happen if electricity were unavailable from Dominion Resources (off-campus sources of power) for up to a month? What if the students were stuck on campus, for whatever reason? (Imposition of Marshall Law.) How could the College deal with this? Accordingly, he has asked the Design Thinking Club to come up with ideas to be used in preparing a contingency plan for such a 30-day outage. He asks that a calm, safe, and continuing learning environment be maintained.
You know that a workshop has gone well when a participant asks the question: Why aren't we doing some of these things now?
I will save the filtering questions, the results for another time. What is important is that the students with whom I worked for one hour are The Next Greatest Generation. I believe in them. Within their population cohort, today, a little one sits quietly on the floor, legs crossed, daydreaming in a kindergarten classroom and may just be the next Tesla ... maybe of gravitational energy... tomorrow.
Do you remember what life was like on a summer's night, lying on the ground, staring out into the universe. Feeling the stars twinkle. Before artificial light. Few places in the world know this magic.
My thanks to the Club for the opportunity to work with you.