Designing better student loans using system thinking

graduation

Students go into debt to pay for college. In the United States, the amount of student debt has surpassed $1.3 trillion, which puts it on par with auto loans. Americans like to think the student debt is an American phenomenon, but this article from the New York Times shows that students in other countries also borrow, and borrow almost as much.

Borrowing may not be American, but struggling to repay is.

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Organizational narrative: Lucky Iron Fish

organizational narrative example

Lucky Iron Fish is a certified B Corp working to improve health around the world, starting in Cambodia. They’ve made a short video, with the help of Google, to tell their organization’s origin story. The video is a great two-minute organizational narrative example that uses the five parts of Joseph Campbell’s mythological story form to tell an compelling story:

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Marketing free school lunch in the summer

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Low-income kids fall behind during the summer, not just academically, but in health and nutrition as well. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),

“During the school year, 21 million children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch. But when school is out, many of the children relying on these school meals go hungry. Summer Meal Programs help close that gap. Summer Meals give children the nutrition they need so they are ready to learn when they return to school.”

How do communities reach these 21 million children when they aren’t in one handy location such as the neighborhood school?

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The power of promotion: marketing same-sex marriage

marriage equality

Regardless of whether you support same-sex marriage or not, have you wondered how the movement went from losing 30 state-wide votes by 2009 to winning approval in 37 states and a Supreme court ruling by 2015? It really was a stunning reversal for the movement.

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The power of distribution: legal recreational marijuana

cannabis store 

Distribution is vital when launching a new product such as a movie studio’s summer blockbuster, an automaker’s new car model, or a state’s legal recreational marijuana.

In recent years three American states–Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state–have legalized recreational marijuana. Even though marijuana is still a heavily regulated commodity, the states have an interest in wide distribution if they hope to realize the increased tax revenues they expect from the new product.

How did the various states structure their distribution channels?

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Health marketing done right in Brazil: a case study

Brazil school lunch

In business school, we poured over case studies, stories about how companies solved, or didn’t solve, a particular challenge. So here’s a challenge for you: how would you use existing products, distribution channels and means of promotion to improve nutrition in one of the largest and richest countries in the world?

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Three Ways to Design Better Retirement Accounts With Systems Thinking

Designing better retirement accounts

In a recent retirement study by Transamerica, respondents of all ages said that they would need to save at least $1 million to feel secure in retirement. If we all did that, we’d be a society of millionaires. There’s a big disconnect here, though, because the survey also shows people are nowhere near on track to save a million bucks with the IRA and 401k plans available today. Designing better retirement accounts is a strong first step towards financial security.

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The power of promotion: three ingredients to make ideas go viral

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“Viral” has taken on a new, and mostly positive, connotation in the Internet era. A video, a photo, an article bursts onto the digital stage and suddenly everyone is talking about it, copying it, satirizing it, secretly wishing that they had something going viral. Remember the Ice Water Challenge or “Gangam Style“? The gossipy nature of viral ideas is one aspect of our social nature.

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The power of brand: naming rights in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite

As described in a recent New York Times article, the U.S federal government and the Delaware North company are locked in a contract dispute about who owns the brand names and other marketing aspects of Yosemite National Park.

President Abraham Lincoln first signed legislation to protect the Yosemite region for the enjoyment of all and gave birth to the National Parks movement. Some have called national parks “America’s best idea.” I view it as an inspired evolution of the concept of the commons. Today, nearly 100 countries around the world maintain and protect national parks.

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Free tools! Free social research data

Data goes a long way towards informing the design process. It can pinpoint who your audience is, where they are, what they need, how they want it delivered, and how they want to pay for it.

Quality data can be difficult for public and social sector organizations to generate on their own, and expensive to purchase. Check out these sources of free, high quality social research data. (Use free visualization tools to explore and present your relevant data.)

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