Making better, together
By NATHAN KINCH
Last week we published a bunch of updates. We evolved our public site architecture. We’re trying to do a better job of communicating why we exist and what we think this community governed platform has the potential to achieve. We’re trying to balance this with what can be done now. We’ll also be completely open about how we go from where we are today to where we’d like to be in the future.
This blog is a quick overview of that work and how it might be valuable, meaningful and engaging for you.
Let’s start with the vision.
Thinking big and starting tiny
We’re attempting to seed (fund, do the early work, support the early community etc.) a community governed social learning platform and collective of ethical change makers that work together to design trustworthy organisations that deliver positive impact. The platform and community is itself a case study for all of this. We are living a breathing our values. We’re attempting to show others how this can be done, in a open and experimental way.
This leads us to a bunch of stuff, from how we’re enabling community governance, our funding model and an ecosystem of verifiable skills credentials through to the work we’re doing to co-design our positive social impact model.
One of the things about all this that’s kind of interesting is our trust based value model (yes, “value” not “business”). This is how the membership subscription works. In simple terms, folks becoming members get to choose how much they pay monthly. We propose $5 per month based on analysis of core platform costs. Everything above that goes into the community fund. Anything below that we have to find a way to supplement.
If you wanna dive into any of this, click on the links that speak to you.
Now onto the now.
Making ethics in tech easier and more practical
We’ve got three distinct propositions that we feel are valuable and motivating to certain people in certain contexts.
The first is community membership. This is driven by a pay what you value structure. This is for people who want to actively contribute to the type of community governed organisation that can help lead us towards more trustworthy organisations delivering positive social impact.
As a member today you can:
- Engage with free learning content, like the Making Better, Together course of the upcoming Intro to Trustworthiness course
- Earn usable (pay for courses, transfer to others) points
- Engage with other members and a variety of social learning features, including community forums
We’re also working on a bunch of other stuff, together with the community through co-design practices. For instance…
- Individual or team based challenges where you put the things you’re learning to the test in a supporting and cooperative environment
- Creating, voting on and helping decide how community funds get used
Amongst a bunch of other stuff.
If any of this sounds interesting, check out our fundamentally different sign up process that doesn’t just encourage you to bypass all the important stuff and sign up without thinking.
The second is our course marketplace. This is where members pay for one-off courses or engage with free courses. Let’s focus on the former as we’ve covered a little of the latter above.
At the time of this writing we have two paid courses live, A Primer to Better Disclosure and A Primer to Operationalising Data Ethics. Both courses are based on our micro and social learning model. They’re practical and encourage actual integration of what you learn into your daily work.
We’ve also got a strong pipeline of new courses coming. Some are from us, others come from awesome folks from different parts of our beautiful planet. Check out what’s coming up here.
To summarise this quickly before moving on, if you’re frustrated by limited, principles reliant approaches to trustworthy design and tech ethics (Gavin Belson, we’re looking at you!!!), then these courses will get you started on a different trajectory.
The third is for course creation. It’s worth noting up front that this platform and community can’t offer a lot of the stuff that the huge players can. There aren’t millions of eyeballs and all that potentially attractive stuff. What it can offer is authenticity and an actual commitment to exhibit trustworthy behaviours. It’s a platform that – if you care about ethics and trust in technology and society more broadly – is absolutely going to be more aligned to your values. It means, even though there will be reach tradeoffs for now, you don’t have to make so many ethical tradeoffs about where you publish the content that you believe can help people do more ethical work tomorrow.
We also have a bunch of resources to help you more deliberately and systematically approach learning experience design. We’ll back you up with a bunch of useful tools and guidance – including hands on support – to help define learner outcomes, produce highly engaging learning experiences and deliver an experience that people can use to close their own ethical intent to action gap.
That’s plenty enough for now.
As with all we do, we aim to be open, authentic, vulnerable to your constructive criticism and prepared to do our best work, together. We are driven by our 4C’s (community values).
If you wanna talk more about this, reach out. We’re an open book.
Here’s to a better tomorrow.
The World’s First Social Learning Platform for Ethical Change Makers
Keep scrolling to learn more about the journey we’ve been on.
We used to run a services business. We learned a lot. We’ve now pivoted to make this platform launch happen.
the problem we first identified
Trust disproportionately impacts bottom line business outcomes. Yet trust is at an all time low. Ethics is 3x more important than competence when it comes to trust. Yet organisations under invest in ethics. Organisations are more reliant than ever before on customer data. Yet consumers are more concerned than ever about how their data is being used. This has resulted in a data trust gap.
From where we stood a few years back, none of this added up. The data certainly wasn’t as compelling as it is today, but we still asked why organisations weren’t doing a better job at being trustworthy? Why weren’t they acting on the growing body of evidence suggesting that doing right was also good for business.
We started small
At the time we knew we couldn’t answer all of these questions. We were two people (Nathan and Bianca) self funding a new experiment. But we did know based on our previous work that we could plug a gap in the market. We could offer organisations a new toolkit to help them design trustworthy services. In this we were pretty confident.
We figured that starting on this journey would lead to progress. This progress would compound. Over time we might contribute to a movement with incredible impact. We might be part of designing a new marketplace where trustworthy services became not just normal, but basic expectations.
We progressed quickly
Our team grew. We pushed the boundaries. Greater Than X became recognised as a leading research, design and strategic advisory services firm.
Our most recent financial year – even with the fear, uncertainty and indecision that we’ve all experienced through the SARS-COV-2 or ‘COVID-19’ pandemic – saw >300% YoY growth.
We arguably did our best work in this period too. We directly influenced data sharing ecosystems like the Consumer Data Right in Australia and Open Banking in the UK. Our Data Trust by Design principles, patterns, consumer outcome metrics and research practices have become part of the CX Guidelines in both jurisdictions.
We took our data ethics work to a whole new level, supporting organisations in moving beyond ‘feel good’ statements. We helped them design and operationalise Data Ethics Frameworks. This is hard and complex, but we’re excited about what we’ve already achieved.
We also started making some real noise with our Better Disclosure Toolkit. This has positively contributed to the Legal Design and Contract Simplification fields. It offers a practical way for organisations to do something they’ve failed at for so many years. Some regulators even argue that standard disclosure practices are enablers of poor conduct.
But it hasn’t been all fine and dandy. Services businesses are tough. They face a variety of challenges that aren’t easy to overcome. We often encountered two that limited our ability to do really great work:
- Some organisations we worked with very quickly decided they knew enough and could go at it alone. This might well be explained by the Dunning Kruger Effect. Our work would then get cut short, before any new capabilities could be embedded into the way people work on a daily basis.
- Other organisations would become too reliant on our services. They wanted us in the office (prior to COVID of course), leading the work streams and didn’t have the time or willingness to do the hard work required to embed new ways of learning, thinking and doing.
We’ve been aware of these limitations for a long time. They’re not really unique. Most services businesses struggle with similar challenges. As a result, our plan for the last 24 months was to treat the services business as a learning engine. We hypothesised this would give us unique and unrefined access to the market. From this we could accelerate our learning velocity and more confidently implement a scalable proposition with the potential to achieve the impact we’re intent on having.
Now is the time for us to make that move.
What’s The Problem We’re Trying to Solve now?
The short version is, we’re making it easier than ever before for people to learn how to design products and services – regardless of their role title or functional skills – that positively contribute to society.
Want the longer version? Then keep scrolling…
Most people we interact with care about others and the world around them. They want to do ‘good’. Getting more specific, individuals and teams within an organisation want to use their work as a force for good. They’re motivated to design products and services that enhance wellbeing and contribute to progress they can look back on and be proud of.
These very same people have a lot of influence. They’re what’s referred to as choice architects.
Choice architects have the power to influence the choices people make. They can put a button here, prioritise one product here and hide another there, surface this information here and hide that information there. You get the picture. These design decisions impact the choices available to people in everyday life. The way these choices are designed and prioritised impacts how people act. Defaults, after all, are powerful. How people act impacts the world around us.
Choice architecture favours organisations. Facebook optimising for advertising revenues, a supermarket placing candy at the eye level of kids during the checkout process or an online service using different psychological tactics to encourage a purchasing decision. This is all choice architecture.
These choices favour the organisation designing them.
You may have experienced this yourself. Often decisions that favour the outcomes an organisation is optimising for have the potential to negatively impact the person making the choice. The incentives structures of modern digital society make it hard to do anything different.
Misconduct in Australian Financial Services – highlighting by the Hayne Royal Commission – is a powerful example of this.
Doing good in this context – explicitly designing product and service choices that enhance wellbeing determinants for instance – is harder than it should be. It’s even harder if you feel like you’re going at it alone. It’s harder yet if you don’t feel like you’re equipped with the necessary models, methods and experience to design for better outcomes consistently.
This is a problem. It should be easier to do better. We should be incentivising the design of better choice architectures. We should be encouraging products and services that optimise for individual, societal and ecologically sustainable outcomes. We should make it easier for the people wanting to do this to connect, support one another and design for change together.
Why is all this so hard today? That’s the problem this community can be part of solving 🙂
How is Greater Than Learning solving this problem?
Think about it. How do you learn today? You read. You do a course. You pay for a consulting firm. You attend workshops and conferences. You hack solutions yourself and learn by doing. If you’re motivated, you give anything a good crack.
But for most people and organisations, there’s a huge gap between what they say and what they do. Especially when it relates to values and acting on them.
Greater Than Learning aims to make it easier, faster and cheaper for individuals, teams and organisations to do the ethical actions they say they will.
Our vision and scope is broad and ambitious. But the initial launch is tightly focused. By joining Greater Than Learning today you’ll get a suite of features that support you and your peers on the ethical change making journey.
COMMUNITY OF ETHICAL CHANGE MAKERS
Become part of a diverse global community of practitioners and leaders, all explicitly focused on ethical actions and designing for positive societal impact. Learning better, together.
conversations Converted to action
Actively participate in challenging, sometimes confronting, but most of all meaningful discussion on big topics that matter to you. Orient yourself to action.
Practical Micro-Learning Experiences
Engage in new and unique micro-learning experiences that will help you develop working knowledge and practical skills that you can put into action immediately.
PARTICIPATE IN PLATFORM EVOLUTION
Participate in the co-design process of the Greater Than Learning platform. You’ll literally get to help make key decisions and define what the future holds.
Use Your Experience to unlock new value
Earn (and lose) points through your learning experience. The more points you earn, the more you can do. Unlock new learning content and practical toolkits.
HELP YOUR PEERS AND BUILD CREDIBILITY
Gain (and lose) verifiable credibility amongst your peers in the community by supporting people in their learning journey and helping them grow.
Build Your Toolkit. Scale Your Learnings
Choose the tools and models that support you to scale your learnings. Begin developing a toolkit that will help you design better products and services that produce more socially preferable outcomes.
GREATER THAN OUR ROADMAP
We've got exciting plans and want to evolve the platform with the direct involvement of the community. Wanna help shape it?
We've got big plans for this. By joining the community, you'll get to influence and shape the direction of this roadmap.
These are the FIRST micro-learning experiences
The Fundamentals of Better Disclosure
Introduction to The Data Trust by Design Toolkit
Covering the principles, patterns, practices and metrics that help you design more trustworthy products and services. Practical in focus to get you oriented to action quickly and effectively.
How to Begin Operationalising Data Ethics
Moving beyond principles based approaches. Diving into the components of a practical and empirically focused framework to work through the considerations and get you operational, faster.
The Micro-Learning Pattern
Introducing A Concept
You start each lesson with a short video. This is how you're introduced to the new concept or practice. These videos last between 5 and 7 minutes.
The video is immediately followed by a short quiz. This helps to reinforce what you’ve learned. These quizzes are designed to take between 2 and 3 minutes.
Getting Hands On
There's no time to waste here. Following your quiz, you get practical. This activity gets you hands on with the tools and techniques you've been introduced to. This activity last between 5 and 7 minutes.
Celebrating Your Progress
Woohoo! Time to feel the shine and celebrate what you've just achieved. This is a simple activity that is little more than a deep breath and positive recognition. It feels good, but it's also backed by science.
Sharing With Your Peers
Sharing your progress and learning from others is a core part of this platform and community. Each learning experience ends with a prompt to do just that. This activity can be completed in less than 5 minutes. But don't stop there if you don't want to. Keep diving into the topics that interest you most.
All of this is designed to fit into the busy lives of people in a post COVID world. Depending on how deep you go and how much social learning you engage in, each micro-lesson takes 15 – 30 minutes. With just a little motivation, almost anyone can commit to this investment.
This is not corporate training or death by powerpoint.
Initial Content Partners
Although it feels like we’re going at this alone, don’t get it twisted. We have support. We’re already working with thought and action leaders in their respective fields to bring you new and unique micro-learning content. Keep your eyes peeled for updates.
There are individuals, groups and organisations all around the world doing stuff that inspires us daily. Here are a few that we’d absolutely love to work with.
Who is an ideal community member?
The basic qualification is pretty simple. Ask yourself this:
Do I want the world to be better?
Now, ask yourself a follow on question:
Am I willing to do something to design a better reality?
You have the attitude this community needs!
That motivation to design for positive change, rather than a specific ‘skill category’, is what we believe matters most.
Even though that’s the case, let’s throw around some ideas.
Please note that this list is non exhaustive. If you wanna learn more, sign up and start a community discussion.
You're ready to learn and take action
Ethical Advertising Ecosystem
A product manager intent on making the digital ad ecosystem more trustworthy.
You might be a product manager working on how to overcome the largest data breach in history (i.e. make RTB and programmatic advertising work).
This is a challenge, there’s lots of push back, and things are changing so fast you don’t know what specifically to focus on.
Engaging in this community could help you learn about actionable approaches to data ethics and trustworthy product and service design. It could also support you in learning about new research practices you can apply quickly and effectively to start designing a more socially preferable advertising ecosystem.
Designing Healthier Food Choices
A product designer helping customers make healthier choices, one bite at a time.
You might be working in the FMCG sector. Maybe you’re a product designer. You want to find ways to design experiences that support your customers in making small changes that lead to healthier choices.
Over time these tiny choices lead to better health outcomes. But the thing is, you don’t know where to start. Combing through the behavioural sciences literature might not be the best use of your time.
By becoming a member, you could start learning about Behavioural Design Models and Methods that you can use at work and in your own life. Your learning experience will be enhanced by going on a similar journey with others.
Better Contracts & Legal Disclosures
A lawyer aiming to humanise legal contracts and make disclosures better.
You might be a lawyer that’s sick to death of crap contracts and disclosures that no one wants to read. But maybe you keep getting push back internally. No one is buying into what you’re proposing.
You could engage in a diverse learning experience that helps you conduct research to develop a baseline understanding. You could then get hands on with Better Disclosure to design a new experience. You could test it using the research methods you learn. You could then communicate the very clear uplift with key stakeholders.
It’s a shit load harder to say no to solid data than it is to say no to a seemingly ‘philosophical’ opinion.
Bold and Courageous Leadership
A senior manager wanting to create and support a high trust, high performing team.
You might be a manager struggling to overcome ineffective and disempowering leadership. You want to take courageous leadership action and support meaningful cultural change.
But you recognise the entire system that is your organisation might push back on this. So you start learning a new approach to conduct pre-mortem workshops.
You tap into different tactics that can support openness and vulnerability. You use what you learn to encourage the desired conversations. You get others bought into your mission and you all start making change together.
You've got models, methods and toolkits to share
Evidencing design patterns that earn trust
A user researcher with a tried and tested toolkit that's ready to benefit the world.
You're an experienced user researcher working to better understand how trust impacts people’s propensity to willingly share data.
You've developed a toolkit to support a better research workflow. Very little exists out there today. Your peers communicate frustration, constantly finding themselves scrambling through old NNG articles to try and help. This doesn’t cut it. Instead you design a micro-learning experience on Data Trust by Design Research Methods. You help your peers become familiar with new consumer outcome focused metrics. You help them establish new research and design workflows. And guess what, they bloody love it!
Course participants start designing more trustworthy products and services. They’re able to demonstrate that specific tactics increase people's propensity to share data. Better yet, the attitudinal research they conduct also shows these very same people are happy to do it.
No manipulative UX here... A win for the people you serve as customers. A win for your organisation.
empowering and innovative financial services
A FinTech and consumer data rights innovator wanting to share their learnings.
Maybe you’ve been involved in something like Open Banking from day 1. You recognise it’s a hard, cumbersome and costly process for people to learn all the rules, standards and guidelines.
You decide it’s time to share your expertise, so you use the platform to design action-oriented micro learning experiences. People from Financial Services organisations all around the world start using it. It’s helping them make sense of Open Banking faster and more cost effectively.
It’s also a new revenue stream for you 🙂
Establishing a Society Centred Design Process
A designer with a clear process to design for people and the betterment of humanity.
Perhaps you’re a designer that’s spent years focusing on approaches to design that are multi-directional. You’re looking at the way products and services impact the world around us.
But the problem is, too few designers you interact with are doing the same, even though they tell you they want to!
You decide to design a micro-learning course for other designers, researchers, marketers, product managers and startup founders. This learning experience and the social interaction that supports it helps all of these people get better at designing for the world around them. They start designing more environmentally friendly products and services. They get better at considering accessibility and designing for vulnerable populations. They have
a new take to work toolkit that they too share with their colleague.
Bloody hell! You’ve started a movement 😉
Accessible and Actionable Regulations
A policy influencer ready to make legislation more accessible and practical to act upon
You're someone deep in the weeds of policy and regulation. You feel frustrated by the processes you’re engaged in daily. You feel the frustration that others communicate regarding the complexity and challenges of keeping up with what are often overly prescriptive and - depending on your point of view - burdensome requirements.
You design a micro-learning experience for your peers. It helps them learn about and take action on distinct approaches that make things like industry consultation fundamentally better (more enjoyable and genuinely effective). The content learners you support then take what they learn and go out into the world. They start making the process of regulation and the way people engage with it more valuable, meaningful and engaging.
Wanna Get Started?
We can design better, more trustworthy products and services. It’s possible. These products and services can help us live in a better future. By working together, our learning and impact will be greater than the sum of its parts.
Let’s learn better, together.