The Rapid Ingenuity Toolkit by Anthony Schmiedeler

"Imagine a hackathon, meets team building, meets professional development, meets leadership summit. Imagine getting six weeks of work done in three days. Imagine coming up with solutions together that you could never conceive of on your own." 

That's how Future describes a Rapid Ingenuity Blitz. My fellow designers in residence (including me) at Future used this combination of design exercises, done at warp speed, to tackle Future's problem of how they might engage Chief Learning Officers so that they would want to bring Rapid Ingenuity to their organizations.

The first step was breaking the ice with a little Truth + Truth = Fiction, a fun way to introduce everyone and loosen up the team. After that we analyzed who our audience really was with All About Me. Then we were invited to think of the most outrageous solution we could come up with, aka a Moonshot. That information combined with our new audience profile allowed us to go back in and think about our challenge. Challenge the Challenge led us to a new, more specific problem:  How might CLOs become inspired advocates of Rapid Ingenuity?

From there we started working out how we would create inspired advocates by taking our challenge and adding In a Way That... So That... statements. This helped us figure out how the challenge could be addressed and the impact we wanted our solution to have. Then we took a break to get out and discover things that might spark our imaginations with 3x3x3 (3 Places, 3 people, 3 stories). We ended the first day of our blitz with an Asset Jam to rapidly identify the existing resources we had that could help with our challenge.

Day 2 started with Random Word to help us get away from our problem-solving orthodoxies and generate a bunch of ideas that might lead to ingenious solutions. The catalyst for our random word association? A combination of the weirdest things we found during our Get Out the previous day. Those ideas were then rated on a scale of Impact vs. Doability. We came up with the criteria for Impact and Doability with our In a Way That and So That statements from the previous day. The next steps were taking the most impactful solutions and using an improv tactic, "Yes And", to expand on the ideas and push them as far as they could go. We ended with Name It to start breathing life into our ideas and give us a jump-off point for the realization of them.

One of those ideas was a Rapid Ingenuity Kit: A set of bare essentials in the style of Macgyver (like a paperclip, gum wrapper, and matchstick) that would inspire CLOs to think wrong and realize that they already have the tools they need for ingenious solutions. This wasn't enough for us to move forward with the idea so we did another round of Yes And.

Two of us worked together through several iterations to come to a final solution: the Professional Development Rapid Ingenuity Toolkit. An exquisite yet rough looking package containing a single paper clip presented on a square of velvet. Inspired by Macgyver, we knew the paperclip was the only object we needed to illustrate the possibilities for ingenuity. One of those possibilities is to pick a lock, which we've alluded to in the design of the bend. This refers to the idea of "unlocking your potential". It's also a typical office product that CLO's are familiar with and we are presenting it in an exciting new way. We finished it off by tying in the name of the CLO with the actual object. Making them the "key" so they are empowered and intrigued. The most amazing part is that we used the process we are trying to sell to develop the entire campaign.

The last step was to pair it with a personalized letter and a Rapid Ingenuity Handbook to explain the process. The kit was replicated 70+ times for selected CLOs across the nation and will be sent out as a cold mailer in the coming days, all for under $10 a kit. While I was working on this, my fellow interns created two more ingenious solutions that will also been sent out. We've all got really high hopes for some interesting reactions.  

(The paperclip was lasercut acrylic with chrome spraypaint. The packaging inserts were fabricated with a Cricut. Both the handbook and the packaging were printed by hand using a Riso Gocco. Big thanks to Keir Vaughan for helping the most on this project!)

Creating a Cycle of Volunteerism by Anthony Schmiedeler

This is the full presentation I created with my team for the Dreams Need Commitment program at Gillis Center.

Gillis didn't have any issue getting volunteers to help but retaining them was difficult. To address this issue we wanted to create a more personal relationship with the volunteers by using the children's artwork that calls to a potential volunteer's own aspirations. We also wanted to take advantage of the ways they connect with other people in their life by using social media (a largely unused resource by Gillis). We hope this program will create a cycle of lasting volunteers by inspiring the children they help to help those that come after them. 

War Was Easier progress by Anthony Schmiedeler

Earlier progress

After working with parallax effects in video form, I could not escape the cartoonish look that I felt took away from the intended message. So I went back to square one: Who is my audience?

I wanted to affect college-aged people, who are cause-motivated, and whose peers are returning from war disabled and in need of help. I needed something REAL so I went back to my original idea of using real tape. After sketching around I stumbled across the idea of using the tape to spell out the number of days veterans are waiting. From there it seemed like the perfect vehicle for a guerilla marketing campaign.


After that I needed a new poster to match the look. That's when I realized I could create the modern age digital camouflage look with red tape. It seemed like the next logical step to take that image to the website, also bringing in other REAL items to go along with the stories of REAL veterans. 


See the final project here

Growing the idea: Veteran=You by Anthony Schmiedeler

Earlier Progress

After working through the possibility of creating interactive installations to display veterans as vital parts of the community, I realized that the posters could do the same job. Veterans are essentially grasping for normalcy in their pursuit for the benefits they need and deserve, and with a few tweaks, the posters can show that. My job now is to connect those posters with an experience where the idea can explored more in depth. I think using the red tape element gives me a perfect excuse to create an awesome parallax scrolling website, which is where I started wireframing.

After a couple of iterations, I decided the best way to start would be with a strong statistic. Using parallax scrolling, that statistic can move and continue to rise in number as the user scrolls, illustrating how the number of vets that are affected is constantly growing. As the user continues to scroll, red tape begins to cover the statistic and then text will fade in on top of it asking "What are you waiting for?". This prompt has a double meaning, putting the user in the position of a waiting veteran. It also asks what is stopping the user from making a difference. 


More scrolling will remove the tape the same way, revealing grayed out options until the entire homepage can be viewed. From here, there are options to "meet" veterans and learn their story, sign a petition to end the VA backlog, and donate to support DAV and their services for veterans. I'm thinking of adding an option for other vets to share their story with the hashtag #WarWasEasier so it can be connected across all social media platforms. All of these options will continue to other pages, as well as giving the option to return to the menu.


The next step is figuring out a way this can be mocked up. Considering that parallax scrolling is hard to illustrate with still shots, and a clickable version will give the wrong idea, I believe a motion piece will best illustrate the way things move as the user scrolls. The best scenario would be to create a functioning website, which is possible with Adobe Muse, but might be hard with time constraints. I'm pleased with how this idea has progressed and I think this setup will be successful in making a user understand that a veteran=you.

Why should we care about Vets? by Anthony Schmiedeler

Last year I created a pair of advocacy posters focused on the problems that disabled U.S. military veterans and their families encounter when trying to obtain benefits earned through military service. I used the Disabled American Veterans organization as a way people could help, donating to the charity so that they can continue to provide free, professional assistance during the claims processes as well as other services dedicated to improving veterans' quality of life. 

The problem with these posters is that they don't address the bigger question: Why should anyone care about veterans? 

It's hard to encourage someone to donate to a cause when they don't see how it relates to them.

The answer that can be explored through this message is that veterans are you and me. Veterans want to be everyday people and contributing members of society when they leave the service. But when veteran's can't obtain the benefits they deserve or the help they need, they can't transition properly and live the same lives as you and me, nor can they continue to contribute as many do in vital community positions like cops, firemen, teachers, and politicians.

This project can be expanded to deliver this message through a combination of interactive installations and a web site or app. The installations will use literal red tape to "obstruct" these vital community positions, for example: covering a police car or blocking school doors. Prompted by signage, a viewer could visit a web site or app that allows them to view and "meet" the vets that occupy these important jobs, learn their story, and be given the option to help and donate.

Expansion coming soon.