Jethro Heiko's blog

Utilizing the OODA Loop to uphold a patient's wishes and values

Through the process of developing My Gift of Grace we have learned a lot about the kinds of conversations people have (and don’t have) about end-of-life care. We have seen just how challenging it can be to get clear about one’s values and goals of care, and how important it is to make one’s wishes known.

Grieving and making whole

This post is from our archive, I wrote it back in May of 2011. 

Many different experiences of loss

What I mean when I say "CO-Design"

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.

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Novation: Innovation, pared down to the core

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.

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Design for a User-Friendly and Human-Centered Workplace

Thanks in no small part to tech companies, the idea of user-centric design is everywhere. The iPhone took over the smartphone market by delivering a simple, easy-to-use interface. But while our personal devices have gotten easier to use, they’re also a leading cause of the breakdown of boundaries between work and the rest of our lives. More recently, designers have started to discuss “human-centered design” to address deeper and more subtle needs for supporting healthy, sustainable living. So, now when I want to I can put my iPhone on “Do Not Disturb,” but it wasn’t until latest upgrades where that became possible. Read more at Huffington Post…


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