How can we embed more human connection in services and systems?

Ellie Osborne
Sep 27 · 5 min read

A question at the heart of a new partnership between three organisations putting human connection at their core. Deepr, Enrol Yourself, and Hawkwood Centre for Future Thinking have joined forces to set out on a collaborative inquiry to explore its infinite answers.

An open dialogue around the question — how we can we embed more human connection in services and systems?

We lead increasingly disconnected lives with loneliness and depression on the rise across all demographics. While most services and systems we use daily are designed in ways that reduce any chance of meaningful human connection. We use apple pay in the self checkout queue, we check in at the doctors with a screen tap. We use less of our human judgement and social skills to communicate, to purchase, to organise. This is part of a drive for greater efficiency that places no value on the power of human connection and the huge benefits even tiny social interactions can have.

But out of this land increasingly starved of moments to connect, new seeds of relationship-centred design and the importance of human connection are beginning to root. A concept as old as our human existence now needs some nurturing, it may be a field its infancy but those roots give us hope and somewhere to start creating momentum.

Hawkwood Centre for Future Thinking

Starting in November the Deepr Learning Marathon will offer a dozen co-learners the chance to be part of a unique cross-sector peer group of professionals working on the challenge of embedding human connection into services and systems. A 6 month learning journey to be curious, to explore and experiment, to develop and grow projects, as individuals, and collectively.

To mark the start of the collaboration and inquiry, this week we hosted a night of generative conversation and open dialogue with others thinking about human connection in a myriad of different contexts.

We heard from Matt McStravick, creative director at Deepr and founder of ECHO; Janice Johnson, founder of Eating with Elephants, storytelling dinners fighting stigma; Dr Gillian Sandstrom, psychological scientist studying social interaction, senior lecturer of Psychology at the University of Essex. We invited people to bring their own questions, experiences and knowledge to the discussion, or just listen in and soak up what others have to say. And to diffuse all the heady conversation, we experimented with a couple of small practices designed to help us feel more empathic interaction and bring a sense of real human connection into the room.

You can listen to the recording of the participatory discussion of the evening here.


Or if you’re shorter on time. To give you a flavour of the breadth, depth and intricacies of what came up, we’ve selected some of our favourite topics and the most thought provoking and insightful quotes and questions from the evening:

Skipping the small talk

The expense of efficiency

Loss Aversion

Rejection

Practice

“People who experience Eating with Elephants go out into their workplaces, into their everyday lives with their families, and they’ll start asking more probing questions that result in better conversations, stronger connections, and more meaning.” — J J

Restoring human connection

Play

Small things

Rituals and passages

Equalising relationships

Power Dynamics

Friction to connect

Zooming out

Capitalism


If you’d like to know more about the Deepr Learning Marathon and how to apply visit www.enrolyourself.com/deepr, or get in touch if you’d like to talk more ellie@enrolyourself.com

Important dates to remember

  • Final Deadline: 9am Monday 14th October
  • Kick off weekend: Friday 22nd — Sunday 24th November

The partners

Enrol Yourself is an award-winning social enterprise redesigning lifelong learning by harnessing the power of peer groups.

Hawkwood Centre for Future Thinking is a charity, sustainably run estate and cultural hub in the heart of the Cotswolds.

Enrol Yourself

We're an award winning social enterprise redesigning lifelong learning by harnessing the power of peers groups. This is where we share our insights and reflections.

Ellie Osborne

Written by

Ethnographic researcher, facilitator, experimenter | Always learning | Culturally curious | Fascinated by the world’s systems

Enrol Yourself

We're an award winning social enterprise redesigning lifelong learning by harnessing the power of peers groups. This is where we share our insights and reflections.

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