The Action Mill designs human-centered solutions for organizations focused on late life and end-of-life care. We help our clients improve communication and decision-making about life, death, and dying.
Contact us at 267-984-3493 or email@example.com.
My Gift of Grace
My Gift of Grace is a game designed by The Action Mill that encourages players to have conversations about end-of-life decision making, advance directives and other issues related to life, death, and dying. The game was a winner of the California Healthcare Foundation’s End-of-Life Challenge.
Death & Design
We spend most of our lives avoiding thoughts of mortality, which means that when we have to talk about illness and death, we’re unprepared. The Death & Design project is our contribution to the growing movement to unhide death.
Georgia is a designer and maker. She uses design thinking to help solve big, intractable problems. In addition to her design work at the Action Mill, Georgia is the Director of The Hacktory, where she creates opportunities for anyone to creatively tinker and learn about technology.
Jethro is a designer and community organizer. Following the death of his father 20 years ago Jethro founded REFLECT, the 5 College Bereavement Support Program which worked to help college students cope with the loss of a loved one.
Nick specializes in the design of space for challenging conversations. Nick’s tools and methods break the limiting beliefs that organizations and individuals have about their ability to affect change. He was the lead organizer of the Enough Fear project and led the development of the online, phone and in-person voting system for Philly’s Ballot Box.
Over his career, Rob has lent his human centered design chops to helping individuals, teams and organizations conduct meaningful, principled and effective work. Within the Action Mill he is particularly focused on the development of strategies to align multiple stakeholders to effect large-scale and sustainable systems change.
Rob co-founded the Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, worked as a strategist on the W. K. Kellogg Foundation's New Options Project, and was a member of IBM Research's Market Analysis & Strategy group.
Recent blog posts
My first job after graduating college was as a community organizer in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston. At that job, I learned how to connect with people in meaningful ways and how to envision and create an alternative future. It is also where I learned how to build collective power.
10 years after leaving the Fenway and relocating in Philadelphia I'm a partner at The Action Mill, a small design firm. Every time I use the word "design" to talk about what we do, I know that I leave some people scratching their heads. When many people hear design they think about graphic design, or architecture, or even industrial design. They think about things that are pretty, and often luxuries. But looking back, I now view the past 20 years of my work – as a community organizer and a consultant – through the lens of design. By design I mean a method of understanding and solving problems, recognizing and taking advantage of opportunities, and engaging with people and communities.
I know the adrenaline rush that comes with a new idea. In that moment, the possibilities are endless. But innovation should be more than just the creation of something new; it should be the creation of something lasting and meaningful. Truly innovative ideas often take time to emerge, and they are usually more about taking away rather than adding to. Like any good journey, they lead to unexpected outcomes that seem obvious only in retrospect.
When I designed a six-month diet and exercise program for myself last fall, I never expected that learning to feel full would turn out to be the most important outcome. I tried out seven different iPhone apps and started wearing a Fitbit 24 hours a day, and I generally dove into the Quantified Self movement. But in the end I discovered the feedback I needed to lose weight was built into the very enzymes and systems of my body. That doesn’t mean those apps and a little electronic pedometer weren’t useful; they were valuable steps along the path to finding the best solution for myself: becoming aware of my own body.
It’s the difference between layering on more complexity and peeling the layers away to find a simple solution already embedded in the system. We tend to throw both of these approaches together under the name “innovation,” but they lead to vastly different outcomes. We’ve started using “novation” around our office to distinguish the two. The emphasis on the “no” is our shorthand for editing down, getting smaller, making simpler.
If you're at the #mhealthsummit today, stop by the Innovation Zone to get the first look at our game that helps people talk about death.