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Why We Are Helping Vibewire Hack4Homelessness

By Joanne Jacobs

We believe:

Big challenges require less time to solve than we imagine

Teams with focused expertise can create better solutions than committees

Together, we have all the resources we need to build, test and scale the solutions to wicked problems

The best time to start is now.

When I began Disruptor’s Handbook I knew that the market-led innovation focus that we were pursuing could do more than just commercial good. The relentless focus we have on a “problem worth solving” combined with the rigor and passion for markets, people and practical solutions had proven itself time and again.

Three years in, we have run dozens of innovation programs with large companies and small. We have produced outstanding results for global airlines, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, universities, government and industry bodies and financial services companies. Sometimes this means running hackathons.

Sometimes it’s about business model innovation.

Or a design jam.

We’ve implemented broad sweeping change and communications programs, delivered training and new capabilities. And presentations.

We’ve done lots of presentations and lots of decks.

Whatever shape our program takes, it’s purposely designed for the organisation, its people and the outcomes needed. We don’t believe in the cookie cutter approach. We believe in purposeful design and the tailored crafting of experiences. As they say in the world of programmers, we “do the needful”.

Doing the needful

So what happens when the “needful” reaches deep into organisational structures and areas of public policy? What if there is a sometimes tragic and confronting human dimension? What if entire industries have been mobilised to tackle the challenge yet struggle to create lasting impact?

It sounds like exactly like the wicked problems that a disruptive mindset could tackle.

Homelessness is one such problem. It challenges us personally, professionally and ethically. It confronts our sense of agency and control. It feels messy and uncontrollable and makes us feel uncomfortable with the way it demands our attention. Homelessness is – and should be – a problem that “keeps us awake at night”.

But more than that, I got sick of pretending that this problem didn’t exist. I stopped waiting for government to step in and make a meaningful impact. I realised that if we wanted a different world, we needed to create it.

We have already developed a range of tools and guides – our “Disruptor’s Handbooks” that are designed for social impact projects. We have business model canvases for “shared value”, messaging frameworks for multi-stakeholder environments and more. We even have a 5 Day Social Impact Sprint / accelerator program. All these materials have been donated to Vibewire for their use.

But doing the needful isn’t about books or processes. It’s about doing. And that’s why we are backing Vibewire’s #Hack4Homelessness by volunteering our expertise, mentorship and knowledge.

For-purpose solutions

Experience has shown us that if we work diligently on the understanding and articulating the problems worth solving, our innovation accelerator program will deliver amazing and unexpected solutions.

That’s why we have consulted widely and deeply. It is why we’ve had dozens of conversations with experts, advisors and real people who are, or who have been, homeless. It has taken us well beyond the comfort of “user centred” design – these issues are upfront and personal and they demand more of us all.

We talk about “disruption” in a professional context everyday, but in this Hack4Homelessness, we are dealing with a deeply personal level of disruption whose impact is counted in lives.

We don’t necessarily know what will happen over the course of this hackathon.

But we do know that the magic of creativity, when combined with the right amount of pressure and a shared sense of purpose, will lead us to an outcome worth cheering for.

We are doing what we can, because we can.

And we’d love for you to join us – even if it is just to cheer along.

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