Ep.21 - Season 1 Finale

December 13, 2023

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Welcome to this episode of the Responsible Disruption Podcast. I'm your host, James Gamage, and we've reached the final episode of season one. Wooh! That's ruined the sound, isn't it? It’s been an incredible journey diving into the world of innovation and design. Today, we're taking a step back to reflect on the fantastic stories, insights, and lessons we've shared throughout this first season. Joining me are my co-hosts Monique Blough and Sydney Johnson, and together we'll dive into our favorite highlights and moments and behind the scenes moments that made this season unforgettable. We'll also offer a glimpse into what's coming in season 2, so let's get ready to wrap up season one with a bang. So welcome to you both. Now, that's the end of the formalities.


Thank you.


Thanks for having us on our podcast. We're so excited.

01:06 JAMES: But obviously this is a slightly different one. This is a wind up to season one. It's sort of our in some respects, I guess our festive podcast and I'm conscious that we actually haven't done an episode together since March now.

01:23 MONIQUE: That's right.

01:23 JAMES: And we use that one to kick off the season back 20 odd episodes ago. So excited to chat to you after we’ve all been through a learning experience in the past year, so just to kick this off, actually not least learning experience for Lynn, our producer. So I'm gonna do an early shout out to Lynn, who is the brainchild and mastermind of the Responsible Disruption podcast. And she's sitting here with her headphones on desperately hoping that she's not asked to speak. But thank you Lynn. So anyway to kick this off, I just thought we would maybe talk about our favorite episodes and moments from the season so far, so who wants to go first?

02:11 SYDNEY: I can kick it off. First of all we made it. Congrats to both of you. Lovely to be here with you. And there are so many episodes and so many moments across these episodes that really stand out to me that I would consider favorites. So I'll just start with one and I'm sure we're going to talk about a lot, but I think one that really stood out for me and I know it stood out for a lot of our listeners because it's one of the most played is the Truth and Reconciliation Year Round episode, which something I really liked about it was that it was a little bit of a different format and it functioned as a tiny bit of a podcast takeover. And maybe it's because when I listen to other podcasts I enjoy when they get taken over, this resonated with me, in addition to the content of course, but I think it was a really neat way to break the format. I wonder what other ways we might break the format in season 2.

03:10 MONIQUE: Oh, it sounds like Responsible Disruption.

03:16 SYDNEY: Yeah! Did you just think of that right now? Good intentions.

03:17 MONIQUE: That that was a great episode. I agree with you and I think the thoughtfulness and even setting it up sets it apart a little bit differently than some of the other podcasts we've held. Not that we weren't thoughtful with our other guests, but it's more, how do we take some of our Western ways out of how we would traditionally set up a podcast, bring guests and etcetera. When we're looking to bring guests from different areas and much more of an indigenous approach.

03:56 JAMES: Yeah. And I think it was a good format actually. And the talking circle, we tried to model it around the talking circle with specific questions and I think it worked quite well and it does make me think that whether we're working with our Indigenous colleagues or not, we should think about using that format in the future. Next year we've got a whole series lined up, sneak preview for our listeners, we've got a whole series lined up for next year, and actually your comment Syd, makes me think about how we're going to engage those folk as well as what we're going to engage them about. So I think that's an interesting thought. As far as the content of that particular podcast is concerned. Yes, I feel I need to learn more about truth and reconciliation and when listening to that it was there was some really interesting resources that they came up with.

04:57 SYDNEY: Yes, 88.1 FM was one. One of the shoutouts was to listen to that on your commute. And I was like that's fantastic. That's so easy. Fits into my commute as easily as this podcast.

05:12 JAMES: Yeah. And the conversation was a website that I think Tim pointed us towards and I did think about actually that one of one of my resolutions, New Year's resolutions is to enroll in the University of Alberta course, the Coursera course that they have about Indigenous Canada. It's free. It's a free course.

05:34 MONIQUE: It's still free, right? It's actually a free course. Everyone should take that course.

05:38 JAMES: Everyone should take that.

05:39 MONIQUE: Yeah, I think you're inspiring me, James. I'll take it. Maybe I'll take it.

05:42 SYDNEY: We should absolutely. Let's do it together and now it's recorded. So we have to do it together.

05:45 MONIQUE: Yeah, we're committed.

05:47 JAMES: Well, and one of the things they said was there is a level of responsibility to learn and there are loads of resources out there, so we should all take that away as our opportunity to learn either at the end of September or around truth and Reconciliation Day or any part of the year which was what the podcast was really about, year round learning about truth and reconciliation.

06:14 SYDNEY: And action as well. I think it goes from learning into what can you do with that learning.

06:21 MONIQUE: I think allyship or change comes only from action. One of my... OK, I don't have any favorites. I'm just going to put it out there and I'll tell our listeners I struggle with picking favorites because I think all of our guests are in fact excellent and thought leaders and experts in their space, so that might be a very political response in some ways, but I did have many moments throughout the season that left me inspired and I think that's what I'm always looking for when I'm listening to podcasts, whether it's our own or other podcasts, it's how am I being inspired and what dots am I connecting? So maybe one of the episodes I really enjoyed. Yes, I was the host, but it was systems thinking with Roland Harwood and what I enjoyed about that was we had an opportunity to bring someone who has not only written a book and as an author we've had other authors on our podcast, but he's also from abroad, and so having a guest that was from across the pond, as we would say, gave us an opportunity to not only learn about his vision in that space, but also to connect with an audience that we might not be able to otherwise. So I appreciated that, and I had many moments with Roland as we reminisced about working together in the past. So that was a great moment for me.

07:53 SYDNEY: It makes me think of just that idea that we can and should be inspired by people that are in our community and just as much can and should be inspired by people outside of our community. And outside of a podcast, but in all of our work, I think this probably applies to perhaps anyone who's listening to this is connecting to what's being done in your backyard and connecting to what's being done in the world's backyard are both important and that kind of like zooming in and out to find points of inspiration, different practices and ways to approach something.

08:30 MONIQUE: I even imagined what if we chose some of our guests and brought them in for a podcast, right? When you think about some of the guests we've had. I'm like, oh, I so wish you knew this person or I'd love you to meet this person because the conversation that they might have, I think, would well, I'd be inspired, but I think would inspire our listeners potentially and further inform us on things that we're trying to achieve or we hadn't considered.

08:56 JAMES: Yeah, that sort of tentacles of the podcast going out in different directions, I think it's a nice thought.

09:01 MONIQUE: What about you, James? I mean, you talked...

09:04 JAMES: What about me?

09:04 MONIQUE: Well, I mean, what about a moment? Do you have any moments that pop up for you from the last year?

09:12 JAMES: So the Brant Cooper episode I enjoyed. He is not from Canada for a start, so he was an international guest. He was talking about how to innovate in an organization and why that particularly resonated with me. That's been my jam for quite a long time and.

09:34 MONIQUE: 20 years I think.

09:39 JAMES: I’m not that old. I started when I was 11, so it's been my jam for quite a long time, but also it's something we're thinking about here at United Way is how to engage the whole organisation in innovation and transformation and that's not an easy thing to do. But I think some of the formulae that he had, the 5E for example were things that I definitely took away from that conversation as things that we could be looking at to applying in our work during next year as well.

10:15 MONIQUE: Yeah, I totally agree with you that in fact was an episode I really appreciated. I enjoyed it also because of the frameworks that he suggested or spoke to, and one was his RAD framework. The resilience, awareness, and dynamic. And when I dug into that a little bit deeper, I thought it was really interesting how you can connect that framework to systems thinking. And he didn't talk about it in the context of systems thinking or he talked about it from an organizational perspective and how to get into that flow state. But I started to think in order for a system to exist, it needs to be resilient. It also needs to be dynamic and we need to be adaptable to that and we need to be aware of how it operates in order to be able to make those changes, adjustments or identify where the opportunities are. And I was like, that's the framework I want to start to use.

11:16 SYDNEY: Well, I think there's so many little tidbits and quotes that stick with me from lots of the episodes that I know are going to impact my work. I hope that there's a similar effect on some of the people listening to this. Another one that sticks out for me is from the episode from Ideas to Impact with James Swanson and Bethany White, and it had many good quotes, but one that I will never forget because it's just so clean is, “evaluation is about what we value.” And perhaps they borrowed it from someone else or it was an original thought. I don't know. But it's like, right in the name evaluation. And I think that's also something that I'm thinking a lot of as we go into the new year and different work that all of us will be engaged in is when it comes to measurement, are you measuring what's easiest to measure or are you measuring what you really value? And I think a lot of organizations can fall into the trap of just measuring what you can measure or what you feel like you can measure. But the message I took away from that podcast is what do you actually want to measure and how can you put in the work to do that when it's hard, even if that's really what you value.

12:29 MONIQUE: It's like a stretch goal. I love that challenge.

12:32 SYDNEY: It's really interesting. I was super inspired by that, because I think it's just a values assessment.

12:40 JAMES: And I didn't think I would say this at this start of that episode and I think the next one with Janis and Joy Bowen-Eyre around probably the biggest take away from the whole series for me was around evaluation and and James and Bethany were talking about the short term measures don't really fit with innovation, experimentation and actually speaking to the point you just made actually Syd around measure what we value. The other thing that Joy and Janice said was, it's not easy, but just get started. Start measuring something that you value and then an evaluation framework will emerge as you learn in an innovative project. So I learned a lot about evaluation. There was an interesting other learning about evaluation within the Planet Youth episode that we did because we talked a lot about, evaluating long term goals because Planet Youth can measure over 20-25 years that that's the time scales that they talk about with that model. And Margaret was talking about some of the pressures that they at Planet Youth in Iceland feel for measuring short term goals. And actually, interestingly, she said, they see that more in North America than they do elsewhere in the world, that that need for getting measures and some really short term measurements out there when actually that's no measure of success. It's not measuring outcomes or anything meaningful from a systems point of view.

14:25 MONIQUE: There's something in there about our culture and how we have this constant need to have measurement to show we're on the right track and yet there are many ways to do that without having to think about it in the specifics that we're always being asked for, like how many people showed up. Yeah, well, certainly that can be a measurement, but it's also about what is lasting social change look like?

14:49 SYDNEY: Well, and to that example, I mean if you have 50 people show up, but no impact on those people versus if you have two people and you make a very deep lasting impact, it's again back to is that the right measure and in some cases for sure it is. And in some cases, it's like, yeah, it's a measure, but there's probably ways.

15:12 JAMES: Yeah, and I think one of the things that Bethany and James Stauch said was the importance of measuring progress and learning more than the number of people that clicked on a website and progress and learning is probably what you can achieve in the short term in measuring innovation projects.

15:37 MONIQUE: And that's how we design, right? We’re always learning.

15:38 JAMES: Yeah, exactly.

15:39 SYDNEY: It's one of the funny things when I'm always talking about design and about this work is that so often you don't know what the end result is going to be and so being on the right track, it's like, well, are we doing the things that we know are going to get us to the place that we need to go, then we're probably on the right track because you have to have that openness to be able to pivot as you learn and as you're going along, because if you nail yourself down to like, this is what the outcome is going to be, you're going to miss the actual big opportunities.

16:18 JAMES: Yeah, and the learning could be you learn that that's not the right thing to do.

16:23 MONIQUE: And to be comfortable with that as well, right?

16:27 SYDNEY: And I think to your point about it being our culture, I think that that's a practice I think it's not something where I mean, speaking for myself, I woke up one day and I was like this makes total sense and I completely agree. No, it's been a process and a journey of working in ambiguity and and being comfortable with it.

16:45 MONIQUE: I think there's a lot of people that have supported us and that also inspire us. And one of those people I'm always thankful for is Shane Yu, who is one of our volunteers. He has taken a step of helping us not only with all the transcribing of each episode, but he also has compiled a couple blogs that connect some of our podcasts, some really great noteworthy quotes so for those that are interested in and understand a little bit more about each of our podcasts, they can find that on our website. And it's really a great recap from this last year and we'll have that in our show notes for those of you that want to take a look.

17:34 SYDNEY: So I think something else that we could maybe chat about is we're talking a little bit about the things we've learned, but in the spirit of working in the open, maybe we could talk about some of the things we want to keep doing in the New year, maybe something we would change for the next season, any thoughts or around those learnings?

17:58 JAMES: I like what you mentioned, Monique, about reaching out a bit more, whether that's I think we could be a bit more inquisitive with our guests about who would you recommend us to speak to next because we don't know what we don't know. So who really interests you in this space? Who should we be speaking to next? So I think in the spirit of trying to get more and even more interesting guests, I think that's the thought that I had from you. And we have talked about also speaking to people who have their own podcasts as well. We're speaking the other day about that. And I think that might be a way of achieving that.

18:51 SYDNEY: Yeah, absolutely.

18:53 MONIQUE: I've always been curious about audio listener and the non audio listener and what I mean by that is there's a lot of people that want to listen to podcasts, but for whatever reason just can't get to it. And so I've been curious about whether or not, and I don't want to add work to our workload or to our producers. But is there an opportunity to write something after our podcasts? Is there, I mean, we have the transcript, which is great. So someone can go read that. But I'm curious about, is there an opportunity to do a bit of a deeper dive? I can say from personal experience, many of the episodes that I've recorded, I've said to the guest, OK, I could ask you 100 more questions and I want to bring you back. And of course, it's not just up to me and like, how can we talk more about this? And I think if I'm that curious about the topic, are our listeners curious about that? So I don't know. Would our listeners want to read more about that topic outside of just the podcast?

19:57 SYDNEY: Yeah. I mean, I can take you back on that a little bit because I had a similar thought of and I haven't cleared this with James and Monique but I'd really be interested in understanding from our listeners. We've got a season under our belt. What are the topics and people and things that you want to hear about or even then if there's something that we talked about in season one that wasn't a deep enough dive and we should return to that. Please tell us and we will take that into account because at the end of the day, we want to make sure that this is valuable and even if you have a podcast guest or someone you think would be a great podcast guest for Responsible Disruption, send us their name. We'll have a conversation and that could be a really interesting way of thinking about that. And getting this first season under the belt like we maybe don't have time necessarily to think of all these other avenues but now that we're a little more established, I'm excited for those possibilities.

21:00 JAMES: Following a listener centered approach, who knew?

21:03 MONIQUE: Yeah. Sorry. Was that me speaking? Shocking. That that would be good. Yeah, and to your point, Monique, I think it's interesting to think about how different people might be listening to this podcast. I know for me it is my commute time for sure, I already mentioned that, but if anyone else out there is saying, like, oh, I love to listen this in the shower or while walking my dog or all these other things, I really care. So you should send me a note. What's your favorite way to Responsible Disruption and how do you work it into your day?

21:43 JAMES: Well, yeah. And I think that's great. And I also when you mentioned that, Monique, I was thinking some of the podcasts that I listen to have Patreon episodes as well, which are specific content for those who subscribe, and I'm not suggesting that we run a Patreon site or have subscribers, but there could be additional content that could be just arrived from conversations after the initial... the podcast is over, we can carry on the conversation and maybe transcribe that into notes that could go out as additional content if people wish to look at that.

22:24 MONIQUE: Yeah, I'm in. I'm in for doing it. I'll take responsibility.

22:29 SYDNEY: There's a lot of commitments on this recording.

22:40 MONIQUE: I think it's been a real blast doing season one with the two of you. I couldn't have better co-hosts to work with this entire year and I can't wait for season 2 and I want to provide a bit of a sneak peek to our listeners on what they can expect. OK. Are you ready? Is there a drum roll? Are we going to a drum? In the upcoming season, we'll dive into many topics around mental health such as grief and mental health, and children and youth mental health. That is a heavy topic for all of us right now with what's going on around the world. We'll take a closer look at data-driven social impact, the adaptive cycle, and its role in social innovation and provide you with a design 101 guide. I'm excited for that, from problem identification to ideation. Our new season will also feature episodes about learning from unsuccessful projects, which we've had many, and it's important to share that as part of our process understanding oral traditions with indigenous communities, the concept of community hubs and a deep dive into the future of philanthropy and its disruptive potential. All of these have disruptive potential when we think of responsible disruption, but that's not all, OK. I feel like I'm a late night commercial.

24:00 JAMES: Not all. What else?

24:01 MONIQUE: Apparently. We're going to take a closer look at the next generation of designers. I'm really excited about that episode, exploring disruption in the fashion sector, which we are seeing everywhere around us. And we're also going to be discussing how to protect innovation in an ever evolving world. So for our listeners, buckle up because Season 2 is going to be a roller coaster of innovative ideas and thought provoking discussions, and I'm so lucky I get to do it with these two co-hosts. We can't wait to share these exciting episodes with you. And as always, your engagement and support are what keep us motivated and inspired. And we couldn't have the season we had without the wonderful guests. Thank you to our listeners and our guests for being a part of Responsible Disruption and our journey over this last year. And we'll see you in season 2 until next time. Goodbye.

[Outro music]

That's all for today's episode of responsible Disruption. Thank you for tuning in and we hope you found the conversation valuable. If you did, don't forget to follow, rate, and share wherever you get your podcasts. To stay up to date on future episodes and show notes, visit our website at the socialimpactlab.com or follow us on social. And until next time, keep on designing a better world.