10 Stories of Innovative Change-Making

Ken HubbellInspiration

This season, we’ve captured a broad mosaic of visual stories from leaders and innovators engaging people in big ideas that matter. At ActionCraft Company, we use inspiring visual drawings, stories, and maps to help leaders expand action and share stories of possibility. We’re learning and re-learning the practice of change-making on the ground with diverse leaders who are also amazing storytellers.

This is what we heard that stands out as great food for thought…

1. People only truly engage in change when they get to shape the action.

The Orton Family Foundation coaches community leaders to start community change efforts by uncovering the true DNA of a place and sharing stories about what people love about their places. We captured the workshop for the Arkansas Community Development Society.

Lesson: Every voice matters and every person has something unexpected to contribute that improves the effort. Keeping stories central to a planning process adds “life” and meaning to the work.

2. Culture counts and everyday creativity is the special sauce of change when you’re working to turn around old narratives.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and Rural LISC invited the ActionCraft artists to capture the story of resilience in the Mississippi Delta at a Citizens Rural Design Institute.

Lesson: Start with empowering people by inviting their creativity and culture. Capturing the soul and the tactical practices in one picture strengthens the power to trigger new collective action.

3. Engaging the community in improving local schools is everyone’s priority challenge, and new thinking is definitely required.

Community design thinking events unleash ideas and sharpen priorities for school districts faced with competing priorities and tight budgets. The Little Rock School District partnered with ActionCraft to develop from its community a Blueprint for improving learning environments. Principal Roxie Browning invites parents to roundtable sessions to shape the District’s facilities priorities using visual maps and design templates and online surveys we developed.

Lesson: It takes open hearts and minds to invite your entire community into the design space and the outcomes can be enhanced trust and wise program decisions. Working loosely with ideas and options through flexible visual “maps” makes the strategic development and planning process open, equitable, and convergent.

4. Navigating the unknown starts with “squinting at the raw shape of ideas” to see the status quo with fresh eyes.

Leaders need creative confidence, according to IDEO founder Tom Kelley, to see the status quo with fresh eyes which unleashes new design solutions. Kelley was a keynote conference presenter for health insurance and health industry leaders seeking transformational approaches to increasing health outcomes. ActionCraft produced a series of hand-drawn images with high-level strategic narrative to create a digital leaders Sketchbook for health enterprise leaders to craft an action agenda. 

Lesson: delivering powerfully transformative solutions is possible everywhere in the health care ecosystem but it requires a new blend of creative thinking, technical acumen, collaboration and rapid prototyping. Compelling illustrations and conceptual diagrams make the complexities comprehensible.

5. Lasting health improvement requires “upstream” collaboration because the process of well-being is complex and non-linear.

Because health is influenced more profoundly by social determinants, neighborhood and behavior than by clinical care, leaders must collaborate widely to locate the most critical interventions. ActionCraft visual storyboards are helping BlueCross BlueShield leaders build a stronger set of grassroots strategies to support the health of those who are the most vulnerable to poor health.

Lesson: Powerful pictures help groups positively understand and address deep issues like housing, stress, good food, affordable transportation and child care nurtures the roots of better health over the long term.

6. Women entrepreneurs are driving business and social innovation—let’s improve the investment environment so more women can compete for venture funding.

The number of female entrepreneurs in the U. S. is growing rapidly, but they are not capturing equitable financing. This story was a big theme at the World Woman Summit 2018. Most venture funding pivots on familiarity and too few women are in the venture capital and angel investment fields. ActionCraft provided graphic storyboards for the event. The large murals were translated into ActionCraft Sketchbooks as action catalysts for all conference participants.

Lesson: mentoring and money are critical to elevate to new levels the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs. Let’s draw upon these engaging conferences and transform the mentor community.

7. Sustainability is driving industry and food systems to innovate faster and at greater and greater scale to avoid a “Hot House Earth” future.

As we move from consumer trends of aspirational food through an era of greater paradox: conspicuous consumption—and production and increasing hunger and food insecurity, there is little time to waste on outmoded assumptions. Figuring out how to effectively feed 9B humans in the next 30 years is an eye-opening leadership challenge. 

Lesson: Our storyboards and ActionCraft Sketchbooks are showcasing the essential challenges of the next 30 years but the real action starts at home with disrupting old stories about our planet. If earth isn’t sufficiently resilient, everything is at risk.

8. New technologies like Blockchain can effectively connect sprawling ecosystems and make food secure and fresher—and global companies are betting big on it.

Walmart grocery and several other food franchises and their entire supply chain partners are addressing food borne outbreaks and freshness with new traceability goals—tracking any food item on a mobile device at the speed of thought by deploying digital blockchain platforms with simple-to-use apps. ActionCraftCompany partnered with IBM and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to host a Blockchain for Arkansas initiative and visualize the stories of food traceability and economic renewal through digital technologies and widespread collaboration. 

Lesson: fragmented interests can each, through collaborating in intentional “ecosystem” alliances, benefit by combining rigorous, real-time data and simple applications. But building trust and shared visions is as important as the tech platform.

9. Today’s business has to enter into streams of technological disruption and continually transform its business model.

Leaders at global companies have to continually invent a way to dance with disruption. At the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit, technology leaders from Walmart, Tyson Foods, and JB Hunt logistics outlined a short list of growth areas: expanding the responses to mobility, accelerated autonomy and big data on the cloud and “rebooting the customer experience” to remove delays. ActionCraftCompany produced live storyboards on advancing technology and business adaptation including blockchain where we shared the evolution of the Blockchain4Arkansas network. 

Lesson: JB Hunt VP Craig Harper described his learning process to understand the previously unimaginable business benefits and risks of automated battery-powered vehicles so that he’ll be ready to invest now—so that when the vehicle technologies are fully commercialized in 5 years he’ll be ready to transform his current fuel-powered fleet.

10. The challenge for effectively communicating a new idea is to make it “sticky” so you can activate positive behavior or policy change.

Mountain biker activist Dr. Bill Smith shared his story about making rural highways in Arkansas safe for bike riders using a social media campaign, “Be Visible.” He suggests that for each message that contains a call to action, you should provide another five that provide useful content for your key audiences. ActionCraftCompany captured Bill’s presentation on large murals at the annual Arkansas Community Development Society conference.

Lesson: compelling social change needs storytelling that is both responsive and inspiring. At ActionCraft, we bring creative confidence to this challenge.

What is your big idea and your emerging story?

Contact us today and find out how illustrated ideas help your audience take action.