I find myself in a moment of deep reflection as I assume sole responsibility for guiding, facilitating and growing the SonicRim team with the departure of the last of the original four partners.
Eighteen years ago, before launching SonicRim, four colleagues from Fitch (an international design firm) and I made collages, to compare our dreams and to learn whether we wanted to share a journey. Last week in the office I turned to this collage. It was about my dream — what I wanted from life and how SonicRim could, over the years, serve as a vehicle for realizing my vision.
Through our collages we discovered our shared desire to change the world, and about harnessing the imagination of everyday people. The essence of our shared dream centered around four key words: connect, create, challenge and discover. We launched a Post Design movement. We talked about design driven by empathy as opposed to ego. Several friends from the design industry attested to the Post Design manifesto we co-created. SonicRim was born on April 1st, 1999.
The past 18 years have seen an evolution of SonicRim’s practice. In the early years of SonicRim, clients came to us to explore the fuzzy front end of the innovation process through participatory design. Over the years our clients have provided us the opportunity to apply our participatory mindset to more ambiguous and complex problems or questions. Our recent client relationships center around co-discovering, co-imagining and co-creating insights that can inspire innovation. Today our clients hire us to align their multi disciplinary teams with a shared vision of their future opportunities, to gain empathy for an unfamiliar culture or to understand an emerging behavior in the global marketplace. They seek our help in exploring the social, cultural and behavioral impact of disruptive events and technologies.
Three years ago we started hosting monthly whiteboard sessions in our San Francisco office, where people from a wider AnthroDesign community gather to visualize our shared perspectives on current issues faced by our practice and by people. We regularly conduct workshops on co-creation in universities, companies and conferences around the world. Through such engagements SonicRim has become a community of co-creators. The full time members of SonicRim are only the facilitators of an exciting and purposeful practice of co-creation. That is what keeps people who have moved on from SonicRim still connected to our mission of inspiring innovation through co-creation. Several of our former employees, clients and partners continue to champion co-creation in their new roles.
As I sat in my office last week, I felt alone for a moment. I was overcome with a sudden desire to re-examine my dream. I was inspired to articulate my feelings in a Facebook post-
“If we believe in our dreams we never feel alone. If we follow our heart, patiently, and with determination, we never feel lost. Even when the path takes us through a difficult terrain, the journey feels like an adventure, and the obstacles and distractions seem like a test of our commitment to following our dreams.
In this journey there is no reward waiting at the end- we feel rewarded every step along the way. “
I decided to remake my collage after 18 years. The new collage reflects two decades of evolution: it reflects a desire to slow down, a desire for harmony, for being more purposeful, for reclaiming work-life balance and, through all this, having more impact on the world. The four words that appeared on the fringes of my collage from 18 years ago moved to the center. The center area of my new collage says: Connect, Create, Challenge and Discover.
More changes are on the horizon at SonicRim. Towards the end of this year we will dedicate time to reflect upon and define how SonicRim can inspire imagination of a new future through community engagement. We are moving towards launching SonicRim.org: an initiative to harness the creative capacities of communities. The SonicRim team will grow, and we will also reach out, connect with and engage all of you who share our belief in co-creation.
We will keep dreaming together — relentlessly.
Thank you for your support and for everything we have learned working together.