Meld’s Advocacy Framework: Making our purpose tangible
It’s an exciting time for Meld Studios. As we celebrate our 10th year in 2019, we look back in pride at how we have partnered with individuals and organisations to create better services and to change the way organisations work, using the power of Design. Organisation by organisation, system by system, service by service, project by project, individual by individual. Throughout all of this our mission has always remained the same:
”We exist to improve the everyday lives of people as they interact with the world around them.”
- Meld Studios
And yet everyday it feels as if a new problem emerges at a scale unimaginable to tackle. Recently in Australia we have seen unprecedented extremes in weather, from flooding in Queensland to bushfires in Victoria; we have felt the reality of toxic culture and lack of purpose in the financial industry; we have witnessed the failure to manage complex stakeholder needs, and the ecological devastation as a result, in the Murray-Darling Basin. All of these undermine and devastate the lives of countless people.
So how do we enable ourselves to respond to the scale of the problems unfolding before us and answer our mission across the next ten years of Meld? How do we align our behaviours and measure the impact on those problems as an organisation? At Meld we use ourselves as a testbed for what good looks like within organisations, prototyping new ways of working and being. This is why we have created the Meld Advocacy Framework to help change ourselves by making our purpose tangible, aligning our behaviour on what we advocate for and against within our work and with our clients and to measure our impact.
"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."
– Leo Tolstoy
The framework draws on the work from the UN Sustainability Goals, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Meld’s values, aspirations, agendas and thinking and uses Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics model to bring it all together. This is our first version and as we use it and embed it, it will change and improve.
The Doughnut Framework above helps reflect Meld's philosophies and our focus on the human realm, looking to improve the everyday lives of people as they interact with the world around them. But in the face of growing evidence and the everyday realities of climate change, we understand that we cannot focus on that alone. We must, through our work, also advocate to avoid creating negative impacts on the ecological realm. Otherwise there won't be much of a world left to interact with.
"Creating a safe and just space for all life today and in the future."
- Meld Studios
The framework can be used to represent where we are falling short of meeting human needs and where we are exceeding our ecological boundaries. Ultimately we must strive to stay within the ‘Goldilocks’ band where the balance between the human and the ecological enables a safe and just space for all life today and in the future. Where there is data, we can use it to look at these thresholds at global, national and local levels, giving us better context and more information upon which to make decisions. This context is important because in our work, when we engage with clients, we are not neutral parties facilitating a design process. We have the opportunity to shed light on the human and ecological impacts of the products and services organisations design and the ability to influence the organisational biases and entrenched thinking that create these products and services. The Meld Advocacy Framework will allow us to more actively highlight the opportunities organisations have to put more ethical and sustainable products and services out into the world.
"We have the capacity to create a remarkably different economy: one that can restore ecosystems and protect the environment while bringing forth innovation, prosperity, meaningful work, and true security."
– Paul Hawken
We intend to use the Meld Advocacy Framework to help support us and our clients in the creation of more ethical and sustainable products and services. The framework could be used in multiple ways to do this:
1. In the face of global changes, finding a way to ensure human betterment and ecological flourishing
2. A way to discuss our values and beliefs and as a compass to guide our decision making around who we work with, what we work on, and what we wish to actively advocate for on a project
3. Identify knowledge and skills that help us better answer our mission within the course of our work
4. A way to kick-off projects as a team and identify areas we can positively influence or actively avoid on those projects
5. A way to assess the impact of the concepts and designs that end up going out into the world
6. A way to monitor and measure our collective impact as an organisation across time and multiple pieces of work
We, like all organisations, are looking to find ways to change and improve ourselves by experimenting with how to bring to life our purpose in our everyday work. By making our purpose tangible, aligning our culture and turning our values into the behaviours that help us do meaningful work we can create positive impact for both the human and the ecological, whilst being innovative and prosperous. If you’re looking to figure out how to define your organisation's purpose and effectively transform it into meaningful daily behaviours, we would love to hear from you.