Designing with Heart: The Human-Centered Approach to Aging

with Sura Al-Naimi,

CEO and Chief Co-Creator, HiHelloSura

This week on Art of Aging, host Michael Hughes chats with Sura Al-Naimi, CEO and Chief Co-Creator at HiHelloSura. In this conversation, Mike and Sura talk about the importance of empathy and co-creation with customers in the design process, the simplicity of human-centered design experiments, and the need to relax and let the experience drive insights. Sura also shares different styles of innovation, the importance of diversity in problem-solving, the process of generating and developing ideas in human-centered design, and more.
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Highlights from this week’s conversation include:

  • Defining Human-Centered Design (1:09)
  • Sura’s background in innovation and design (2:10)
  • Simplicity of Human-Centered Design Experiments (7:53)
  • Falling in love with the problem (11:26)
  • Diversity in innovation (14:24)
  • Identifying innovation styles (17:21)
  • The “yes/and” principle (19:03)
  • Uncovering intent (22:32)
  • Expansive thinking (26:39)
  • Reductive thinking (31:10)
  • Resources for Human-Centered Design (36:32)
  • Starting Small with Creativity (38:27)
  • Final thoughts and takeaways (39:26)


Abundant Aging is a podcast series presented by United Church Homes. These shows offer ideas, information, and inspiration on how to improve our lives as we grow older. To learn more and to subscribe to the show, visit


Michael Hughes 00:07
Hello, and welcome to The Art of aging, which is part of the abundant aging podcast series from United Church homes. On this show, we look at what it means to age in America and other places around the world with positive and empowering conversations that challenge Encourage, and inspire all to age with abundance. I’m Mike, your host, and this is part of our aging innovators series. I’m very pleased to have Sura on with us to talk about her work in human centered design. Sura has an amazing history and innovation and design at a number of organizations that you know what? And last year she partnered with the United Church homes, to take human centered design to our residents, and what we call it our first ever idea thought and yes, we are open to new names for these. So Sarah, welcome. We are so happy to have you.

Sura Al-Naimi 00:51
Oh, thank you so much, Mike. I’m so happy to be Yeah. Wonderful. Call that the time.

Michael Hughes 00:58
Awesome. Well, look, I mean, I’ve got to start out by asking you about your background. You know, how did you find yourself in the world? First of all, let’s start with this, how would you define human centered design.

Sura Al-Naimi 01:09
So human centered design, so I don’t think of it I it’s, you know, for yourself, if you are gifting a good friend, or someone that you know really well, you would be able to give yourself daily to maybe $5 or $10. And it would be very insightful, very impactful. And they’re like, Oh, my God, she really just kind of day, you know. And so student centered design is kind of that sensibility, we’re creating something that really meets somebody’s need, maybe a need that they didn’t even know that they had, and we’re designing something that’s just really spot off. So it doesn’t have to be sparkly or very tech infused. Although it can be. But it really is. It’s filling a gap that meets the person’s, you know, belief system or moving through the world. And to put it really simply, you know, if your best friend, combined, does something for $5. And just get you is that kind of sensibility that we’re bringing, when we’re designing, creating,

Michael Hughes 02:10
I love the idea of bringing the perfect gift to somebody you know, because what goes through my mind is empathy. What goes through my mind is really just a clear understanding of wants and needs. And, you know, people talk about the golden rule about, you know, treating others as you would like to be treated. This reminds me of the platinum rule, which is treating people as they would like to be treated. And that takes an understanding of how you found yourself in this world.

Sura Al-Naimi 02:37
So my background is in psychology, and I love creativity. And I really stumbled into it by accident, through a series of conversations through being curious, and somebody described it as a workplace where you would get to bounce around between different industries and meet different people and learn new things. And I said, Sign me up. And so as a young grasshopper in London, that’s where it started off at an innovation company called what ifs in London. And so that’s, you know, that’s how I really kicked it off by happy accident, but also just kind of knowing that, you know, being open to new experiences, being perpetually curious and wanting to learn, I’m wanting to figure out how can we understand something, and then creatively on, you know, make something from that place? That was the driver. So, yeah, London was the best place and it’s for me, and then, I think, to go to the States just to work with a startup. And as you would know, that was employee number two, for luxury jewelry. And then after that car dealers, because of course, the two go so well together, you know. Right, yeah. And then I did it all into, you know, a small company that some people might know, Disney, here in Orlando, Florida. And so I think that’s what I love about the skill set. And this mindset is that it perpetuates from startups to, you know, 14 tie ins to your personal life to your workplace, it has that elasticity to provide value in so many situations.

Michael Hughes 04:17
Yeah. And I apologize, because I know that we prepared some questions ahead of time. But you know, what kind of goes to my head right now is, when you think about that experience, I mean, you’re thinking about, you’ve kind of evolved in approach, and we’re going to talk about the approach that we use for human centered design. Now, but I’m wondering if there were any kind of moments of joy or discovery when you’re kind of, you know, talking with customers or designing something for them where you just felt that that the approach of this empathetic co creation with customers or this discovery you like, did, was there a point in your career with it kind of clicked for you? And you said, Oh, wow, there’s something here?

Sura Al-Naimi 04:56
Yes. I think from the very beginning, really? Yeah. I think that drove me instead of, you know, thinking that looking at reports is great. And I think they excel have such a massive value and the well, but being able to sit with somebody, and you know, sit in their homes, for example, you know, Disney, we would actually go and sit in people’s homes and actually get to be a part of their family and her demons with them. And that’s kind of an interaction that goes beyond, you know, bullet, you know, bullet nine or page 54. And so with that visceral experience that happens, where when you’re creating a solution, you can go a little Angela would really like this, or, Oh, no, like, remember, her daughter said, this was cool, too. So we need to make sure that we take this into the solution. And so I think that kind of interaction is kind of going back to that best friend’s analogy, you know, how can we create the people that you know, and not all out? You know, so how can we not make assumptions, but really spend the time with individuals getting to know them in that way. And that’s where I think things really clicked into place. And the other thing that was really exciting for me is being able to take a team together to do that, you know, because then all of a sudden, when we’re creating together, everybody just kind of gets it, whether you’re in marketing or sales, or we should, and all of a sudden, everybody understands the Hispanic audience, and they’re just kind of rallying together. And they’re ambassadors for the solutions that create something that couldn’t be corrected, and make something that looks cool. But really, like, nobody’s actually wanting that. Yeah. You know, it

Michael Hughes 06:36
seems pretty intimidating, you know, when you’re talking about, you know, getting people together and launching a product, and really just finding a place to start with it. And, you know, it’s, I don’t know, a couple of things are going through my head here. But, you know, when we’re talking about really where we go with design and design thinking, Is it a myth, these don’t need to be complex things, right. I mean, I know, these are, these are kind of trendy fancy terms. But, you know, I can think of a situation that I had, where I, you know, was understanding, trying to understand how older people have the relationship with technology, I can read articles, and, you know, sort of talk to people about it. And then my mom had trouble with her computer. And I went with her to BestBuy to the Geek Squad counter. And we were waiting for about 40 or 45 minutes for, you know, someone to, you know, to take care of her, but I was observing every other person in line. And that told me just tons about older people in their relationships with technology. So when I think about human centered design, you know, I’m thinking about the grand concept, but I’m also thinking about a simple experiment, because that’s kind of the right way to think about it.

Sura Al-Naimi 07:53
I love that sort of, actually, yes, I feel like, the more that I other people can feel that it’s within our grasp, that it’s something that can be doubted, five minutes, 10 minutes, what do you mean, it’s could be at some of the friend could be just going to a clock and observing, we have access to so much human centered design is essentially watching humans talking to humans, you know, stepping into that shoes. And while we can do really big projects, and consumers of that project, and again, those definitely have a role in the world, I think we can all be sort of empowered to go have these experiments, and think about where our audience might be. And the Gohan out there, you know, ask a friend to recommend a tattoo for 10 to 15 minutes to get a fresh perspective, you know, without leaving the witness, just having a conversation as we do. And so I think the things that we naturally do as humans, that dinner policy, or just kind of on a day off could equally be applied to any project that we’re facing.

Michael Hughes 09:03
And there’s a certain amount of kind of just relaxing and letting things go here, right? I mean, you’re not having an agenda, you’re just letting the experience kind of drive the insights, and just kind of going with the flow, I guess, right?

Sura Al-Naimi 09:16
Exactly. Right. So if we’re kind of out there, you know, already with an assumption in our mind, and then seeking to validate that assumption, then that’s just kind of that one state of be but then it doesn’t allow us to discover new things, you know, whereas if I’m not attached to an outcome, and I’m, you know, having a discussion with somebody and genuinely being curious about their world, I think there’s a very different place to kind of step into, you know, my favorite experiences on those 5am Google runs, okay. I need the most unusual people. Usually, you know, I don’t retire, they tell me their life story. In a space of 20 minutes. I’m totally anonymous. Add on in or, you know, I’m leaving kind of like ready to get on my plane? Those are the kinds of experiences that, you know, at the time, you might not know, like, oh, how am I going to use this from a human centered design project, but these are all kind of new for that, and you stimulus that we can apply at some point in the future, you know, and then there’s the intentional excursions that you kind of make sure that, you know, we know that we have an elderly audience, you know, go to Best Buy in and see, you know, how they’re interacting or what’s happening for them. That speaks volumes beyond, you know, reading a report, and it being a very much more sort of analytical, non-emotional mind.

Michael Hughes 10:43
Yeah, I know that this to our listeners may seem a little bit loosey goosey. But I just want to kind of draw a comparison here between, you know, how, you know, I would at least have done product design in the past and what we’re talking about now, you know, in the past, we would have talked about, you know, here’s a product that we think is really interesting, and let’s go out and do research. And we’ll do focus groups and market exercises, and things like that, and see if people like the idea. But what occurs to me, and I want to draw back to a podcast we did with developer tale of Lotus formerly of Apple, where he said, and I think that, you know, a lot of entrepreneurs may be at risk for this when they have a great idea, and they really think it’s a good one. But he said, you know, how do you fall in love with the problem, versus the solution first, you know, fall in love with the problem and or fall in love with the opportunity. And it’s that kind of analogy of falling in love, you know, means, you know, you sort of, you know, it’s all about trying to maybe live the experience or walk a mile in the person’s shoes and really try to get to that. And he said, you know, until the point at which all the stories start overlapping. Does that kind of ring true for you?

Sura Al-Naimi 11:57
i Yeah, it’s a really deep resume. It’s really spending the time, you know, setting the context of what’s going on, you know, so I think if you think of yourself as the world’s leading investigator, whether it’s, you know, Sherlock Holmes, or maybe it’s your mother, you know, very curious. What is that ultimate ego, and then really doing that exploration. So, you know, a lot of the time I use the metaphor of six blind men who are describing an object and want to say, you know, this feels like a study wall. And the other one says, This feels like a snake. And the other one says, This feels like, you know, the texture of rope. And after a while, it’s revealed that they’re all touching the same object, which is an elephant, but from different perspectives. And so as I begin a project, you know, how can we see your perspectives, you know, because each one is so equally valid, so that we can see the whole picture? And then from that place, be able to create something that’s meaningful for them?

Michael Hughes 13:05
Yeah, well, I don’t want to get into a question set, but that also spurs another thought with me, and it’s something that you’ve taught us. And, you know, everybody, and I think this actually leads into this next question, because I think that, you know, our listeners may feel that, oh, my goodness, you know, I’m not a creative person, you know, I’m not a, you know, I don’t know, if I could really just go out and talk to somebody, and what if that sort of thing and and, and we take it, you know, we take a team based approach at United Church homes. And, and the first thing that I think when you started doing training with us, the first thing that you did is you had us kind of go through an exercise of analyzing our, the style in which we innovate, or the style in which we create, and we all had different styles. And, and I think that one of the things you shared is that, you know, if you if, first of all, anybody can do this, I think, is what you just said. And then when, you know, if you want to solve a problem quickly, you might put people of the same type together, and they could do it. But if you really want to attack and come up with innovative and unique approaches, if you really want to understand problems and opportunities, then diversity is kind of a key to putting different sorts of people together, just like the elephant analogy, right? Because everyone has a different piece of information or a different perspective. And then together, they all kind of see the elephant, right?

Sura Al-Naimi 14:24
Exactly. Right. But exactly right. I love talking about it in terms of superhero powers. So if you think about any, you know, any movie or any example that you might have that comes to mind, there’s always distinct roles within a superhero team. And each one is bringing that to the table. And only together are they able to go from that hero’s journey and achieve what they want to achieve. And it’s sort of the same thing with projects. It’s like, you know, sometimes we might identify a specific skill set as being the creative one, you know, perhaps the ability to Ida you know, pattern bills or and come up with those wacky abstract ideas, right. But what we really reveal is that there are specific skill sets, and they run through the innovation process. And each is equally important to drive innovation outdoors, or to have a successful project. And so there’s, you know, we talked a lot about just now about, you know, falling in love the problem, that would be the role of the clerics liar, you know, the person who doesn’t make assumptions, and is really yet another research paper and having a talk to just yet and well, the person, right. And so that’s so critical to setting the foundation and the stage and the opportunity for the project, then, you know, there’s that the Ideator, who sometimes people think that’s the classic creative, right, the wacky one who’s like, you know, why don’t we, you know, have caused McAfee, a PA, you know, and you can get into a stranger’s car and you’re like, No, that’s not safe, that’s not safe. Because at that time, it’s so abstract, and it never existed before. But then, you know, there’s other skill sets, like the developer who takes something and is kind of weighing up the options, making it workable, making sure that it functions and treating yet. And then finally, there’s that Nike, JUST DO IT person, the person who’s always in the meeting, was kind of ready to jump into action, you know, let’s get this out into the door, let’s get something tangible there. And without any one of these, we will be stuck. And we will either not have a product or an experience in markets, or be something that just you know, wasn’t really a fit. And I think that’s the thing that we need, we can do it in terms of diversity in terms of individuals, but we can also cultivate it within ourselves in terms of you think about going to the gym and getting those muscle reps, some of your muscles might be a bit flabby. So for example, if your clarifiers are a bit flabby, let’s make sure that you’re spending a bit of time in a project beginning to really understand what’s going on, you know, and so on, and so forth. So I love that, you know, these, these are skills that we can cultivate, but these are also skills that we can spot in the wild with others and say, you seem to have a real appetite again, I you know, so implementing the taking these I really love doing the research bit, can we buddy up on this, so that we can be really successful.

Michael Hughes 17:22
So just just the four different types and Ideator a clarifier. Sorry, give me the other two,

Sura Al-Naimi 17:29

Michael Hughes 17:32
developer and implementer. So ideation, clarification, development. insulator, okay, and for scenarios, there’s a reference, you can point them to if they want to kind of go on the internet and find us.

Sura Al-Naimi 17:45
Yeah, absolutely. They go and have a look at a site for science, the number four site that goes through the different types. And then also, if they want to have an individual assessment or team assessment, that’s something that I can run them through as well. But you can go geek out there and see if they can guess themselves and others. But then if they actually want to see what their preferences are, like, you know, sciency way that values 65 years of research, then, you know, we can do that together as well.

Michael Hughes 18:14
All right, and shout out to, which is your site so people can check you out there. But I can also imagine that, you know, I’ve got the crazy ideas and the clarifiers. like, Wait, can I hear this, we kind of put this word to shape. And then the developer is like, okay, let’s workshop this a little bit. And then the implementers like, Okay, this is how we can put this into action. And so there’s so we’re talking about ideas. And we’re talking about a system to develop those ideas. But I think it’s first worth noting that in order for this to work, we have to get into this mindset that no idea is bad. Now, that may sound kind of crazy. Two people, right? Can you talk a little bit about kind of like him getting into improv comedy here? Can you talk a little bit about the yes, in principle?

Sura Al-Naimi 19:03
Yes. And hi. You know, a lot of the time when an idea is fresh, it’s going to seem a bit crazy. I talked about the example that you know, this is probably identifying scuba, right at the beginning, it’s an integral bit queasy. So we

Michael Hughes 19:24
were like, I’m gonna get into a stranger’s car and they’re gonna drive me around and I’m gonna get and I’m not gonna get murder.

Sura Al-Naimi 19:29
Exactly right, where I’m going to sleep on a stranger’s couch. And, you know, and I’m going to wake up allies. And I’ve got a good experience, you know, with Abby. And so with that, you know, the metaphor that really comes to mind is that of you know, if I had two, two seeds in my hand and I say to you, which one is an acorn, and which one is a weed. The easiest way to find out whether the seed is going to grow into a mighty tree, or go to be a weed is to nurture it and to cultivate it, there’s no other way to know. And so ideas are exactly the same way. And, you know, we want to cultivate and nurture these ideas to see what their potential is, you know, and we need to give that some time and some space. And a lot of the time people are resistant. And one of the ways to do that, that you had mentioned is, you know, borrowed from the wealth in Provence is using the language of Yes. versus, you know, in other instances, we’re not really sure about something, we’ll say, No, that won’t work. Because you know, Bachelorette, we did it before excetera. Or, you know, sometimes you will have another resistance by saying yes, or Yes, or we could, you know, go fly in or convey something completely different, that’s not really the idea. And so give it a try to grow the idea, one that we get past the low hanging fruit, and you can really see the potential or what this thing can be. And then two, people confuse nurturing an idea with green lighting and idea, they think that if they’re giving it some love and some attention, it’s a nurturing, it means that they’re saying, Okay, I’m going to allocate budget to this, or it means I’m going to be personally responsible, but it was out to the market. And that can be really scary to people. And so there is a distinction in activities, that just because you’re not sharing something, doesn’t mean that you’re saying, okay,

Michael Hughes 21:22
That’s really important, because I think in the environment that we’re creating, and I love the, I love the flower versus seed analogy, because, you know, if you have a bunch of seeds, you know, seeds, meeting ideas, plant them until they start to grow. And then as soon as one is a weed, we have to pluck it and remove it, right. So every idea has to get some sort of a chance. And I think there’s also a concept here about intent. Right? I think that one of the exercises that I really like is the exercise of, you know, putting a crazy idea in front of a group and using the ESN principle, right. So, you know, you know, what if we were to take a big slingshot, and slingshot to work, or don’t we put seats on the wing of an airplane? Or what if we had invisible clothing? Or what if we have so so? If we talk about something like Oh, seats and, you know, seats on the wings of an airplane, it’s a terrible idea. awful idea. But what would you say the intent behind that idea might be?

Sura Al-Naimi 22:32
Right, I mean, following the time could be fresh air, you know, additional additional room to sort of spread your legs and be comfortable. You know, when science you have nature, you know, so those could all be potential benefits. And then within that, you could say, Okay, well, how might you bake that into the existing system? As a plate? Or how might you provide land new experiences that enable you to do that? You know?

Michael Hughes 23:03
Yeah. So if you have a work colleague come to you and say, Hey, let’s put the wings on the seats of an airplane. You know, it’s, I mean, we could do the Yes, and thing and say, Oh, yes. And we could put magazines there or Yes. And we could put a parachute or Yes. And, but you know, what, what’s the intent of the idea? You know, the intent of the idea is to make air travel more fun, to make air travel more exciting, to make air travel more, you know? So once I guess once the conversation turns to that, it’s kind of a whole new conversation, right?

Sura Al-Naimi 23:31
It’s a whole new conversation, because we’re all covering a different need, say, or a different intent and motivation. And from that different place, then, you know, then we can open it up to other experiences, or other creations, you know, so just because, you know, technically speaking, sitting on the wings of a plane, maybe that’s a bit dangerous. But to your point, if we could make air travel more fun, what are some of the experiences that you have to date before you get on the plane and your arrival while you’re on there? And so on, and so forth.

Michael Hughes 24:06
I just want to kind of go back and review the steps of at least our human centered design process with our listeners, because I want to kind of get to the next stage, which is, now that you have ideas, how do you choose them? Right? But if we do so we’ve talked about sort of, you know, falling in love with a problem or an opportunity. So if somebody has an idea, what’s the intent? And then you know, does it lead to a falling in love with that and some techniques to do so observational talking with people, talking with stakeholders until their stories repeat themselves really just kind of getting a good sense of those insights. After you’ve identified the problem or opportunity then put a diverse group of people together in a room and then set the stage for maybe through some fun exercises like tossing out crazy ideas and using yes and type philosophy to not discount them but maybe to expand on them a little bit more talking about the intent behind the ideas And then we kind of got get into the actual ideation around that problem or opportunity. And from what we’ve done in the past, I mean, you know, you know, the thing that was really kind of striking to me and what I didn’t really understand at first is that and I’m going to go back to the the idea THON that we did with our residents last year, we put a diverse group of residents ages 65 to 99, in a room for two days at our community and in Park View, and in a percentage send us the other Sandusky, Ohio. And we gave them a challenge, you know, What would $1,000 do to enhance resident life at Parkview? And, you know, the residents. What was interesting was the residents first said, Well, I don’t know I live in the cottage. And I don’t know if my needs are the same as the, you know, assisted living people and all that, but we got them together. We did some icebreakers. We asked them to, you know, paired them up to talk and talk to each other. We asked the partner to introduce the other person to the room, we sort of broke the ice that way. Everyone kind of came with ideas about what that $1,000 could do. And we all wrote them down, and we sort of documented them and we drew pictures around them. But then it went to a next level that I didn’t expect. And I thought it was a waste of time at first, but it was something where he said, Okay, we’re going to pretend that Oprah lives at Parkview. We’re going to pretend that Jay Leno lives at Parkview, we’re going to pretend that The Beatles or Pat Sajak, and Vanna White live at Parkview, and what ideas are they bringing to the table, that Park View? And then it was like this, it was really kind of abstract. But can you speak to that? I mean, why did we do that?

Sura Al-Naimi 26:39
Yes, exactly. As I said, at the beginning, we found ideas and then the lowest hanging fruit. So they’re the ones that we know and love, and if cherished and kind of not shipbuilding in time. But they are probably the obvious ones. And a lot of the times we’re looking to push the thinking we need to push the spectrum of thinking, which means that we need to kind of get more into the world and analogy in your the world of metaphor, where things don’t quite make sense, because we use analogies and metaphors, just as you talked about, you know, wings, sitting on the weak plane, we use that to express things that don’t yet exist, right. And that’s the only way that we kind of build a bridge into this new world. So the reason that we went there, you know, what a pro was designed for is that it’s pushing the thinking into a new realm that we might not have considered before. And then from that, we can kind of take the seed or the nugget or the intent, and go up, and what does that really mean? What would it really mean if Oprah was that? Is that like a bountiful experience? Is it a well being host? You know, what is it that is really at the root of driving this idea? Or hide Oprah presented, you know? Yeah, aliquip breaking all rigorous thinking, we have a huge expertise of thinking in a certain way. So how can we break that rigorously jump out of it. In a way, these kinds of exercises enable us to do that, because we’re creatures of habit to create expertise. And so we need these kinds of activities to introduce something that I perceive it’s kind of wild, but later on, you’ll go okay, well, I see what’s going on here. I can use, you know, cookie, you’ve got that reduction source, right? What’s the essence of what’s here, I can use that to create something new. And that’s really the driver behind any of these lateral thinking, which provides a lateral thinking activity, there’s so many lateral thinking activity. They’re available, every lab is a variety. And the core intent is to get us thinking in new ways. As you know, very much like cooking, you cook with the same ingredients, and food is gonna taste the same. If you suddenly introduce this new spice to your vegetable, all of a sudden, things are different, right? So how can we do that with our ideation process? So that, you know, we’re not just making incremental changes, maybe we’re making something that’s really going to take a situation to leaps and bounds?

Michael Hughes 29:20
Yeah, what I liked about the exercise that we did with our residents at Parkview was that we came up with so many of these ideas. And first of all, some of the ideas were really quickly actionable. I mean, one of them, you know, you know, we should fix the piano player and it turns out, they just did, we just didn’t know how to turn on the piano. And that was fine. That was good, but I loved how we sort of took all those ideas, and we kind of found themes within them. Now, all the residents are coming up with ideas of what could benefit them and what they could own. And by the way, for the listeners that this would not be something that staff would do, this would be something that residents would lead themselves. I mean, I just gave them $1,000 And they just sort of took off with it. And so when we start to look through all those ideas, it’s kind of like we can group the ideas together into even larger themes. And I’m thinking about an example where somebody wanted to get outdoor lights, and somebody wanted to have a pollinator garden, somebody wanted a picnic area. And we sort of group that into a bigger idea about sort of environmentalism and really being good stewards and sort of putting our act and then another one around music and musicality, and another one around fitness and exercise and balance. So So So, you know, ideation consolidation, but then we had to get into some more, we had to start cutting those ideas, we had to start really kind of driving them down. And I know that we do, and that means constraints. And we already had a constraint with $1,000, we already had a constraint with the resident run. And it has to be resident running and also benefiting everybody at Parkview. But can you talk a little bit about it? I mean, we call the first part kind of really expansive thinking. Can we just use your analogy, maybe in a different way, but reduction? How can we talk about maybe more reductive thinking, kind of really getting down to something that’s tangible, where the practical minded side comes in? And we actually think about ideas that are making it more feasible?

Sura Al-Naimi 31:10
Yeah, it’s absolutely, I think reductive or constraints are, you know, really, the bullet for introduction of new things. So they’re absolutely beautiful. So yeah, when he had the ideas, we put them against the lens of our success criteria, right? So we’d already identified at the beginning, you know, you know, how do we know if we’re successful will these five things need to happen? Who wants to know that they were successful? So we mapped each idea alongside the success criteria, and we were very quick and visually. It’s going to look like a slider of brands, you will be able to see how an idea is performing. Ideas can often be very subjective, and very emotion fueled, and that’s really great. You know, we had a vote about the portion of the room where people were really excited. And that’s very important as well. But then how do we have an objective conversation about these ideas and how they’re performing, especially with you, we map them against the success criteria. And then from there, we’re able to see, wow, this one is performing really well against these three, but it’s a little weak on these two. This one has an egg surface area, this one has a really tiny surface area. So all of a sudden, you’re having to prioritize your ideas, number one, and number two, with the ones that you prioritize, to see where there are additional opportunities to bolster them and to grow them. Because you want to kind of like thinking about them is like, well, you know, newborns, if you will, and you want to make sure that your army gives you all the padding, so that they can kind of survive in the wild, right? And so if we know, for example, that, you know, the rollout is going to take 10 years, and we want our rollout to happen in a year. How can we adjust this idea so that the rollout is

Michael Hughes 33:07
right, right. So yeah, so for our listeners, you know, we call this a stargazer exercise. And imagine that you’ll come up with any number of criteria that the idea needs to be kind of measured again. So in our case, it has to cost $1,000, or less resident run has to benefit as many residents as possible, you know, must be executed within a year, there’s something else but so if we, you know, and you’ll people will kind of rate the ideas based upon that. And we sort of, you know, something could be like, you know, one or two or three, and you kind of add them up into points to kind of get you to the best part. But if you had an idea that everybody liked, and maybe it’s limiting on, I don’t know, time to roll it out, as you have outlined. I’m so new to this. So then you go back and you say, Okay, this is a great idea, but it has this constraint that’s really struggling. But can we modify the idea that it can happen in less time, or cost less money or things like that, and I think that’s a really interesting way to think about it. And so I want to, you know, we’re coming to the end, but I just wanted to kind of, just for you, and for the audience, kind of maybe just relay the process that we’re using again, I’m learning too. So this is what we call our Teach Back thing. I’m trying to teach back here. All right. So fall in love with the problem. Observational conversations, interviews, talk to the people you aim to serve the story up into the point of the story is really overlapping. Okay, you got a good sentence to find the problem or opportunity, put a divided diverse group together, set the stage through some fun exercises then sort of get that no, or yes, but or yes or into a yes and type thing when people come up with ideas, understand the intent behind the ideas, expansive thinking, grouping into theme Is reductive thinking using the Stargazer exercise. And then, and for the audience, you know, when we did this with our residents, and we’re going to be doing more of this, we think that this is we think that residents run programming in this way is really sustainable. And they came up with three great ideas, they came up with outdoor life, they came up with music and musicality, they came up with exercise and balance, and they bought a karaoke machine, they’re getting really fun, cognitive, like brain games and exercise things coming together. But they put $1,000 toward it, which was really interesting . What they spent the money on was really symbolic. You know, the karaoke machine is a representation of what musical life means at Parkview. And with the $1,000 that they spent on the initial part of the gardens, they used that to raise an additional $40,000 for outdoor enhancement. And I just think these little seeds can grow. And so we think that there’s something there, and you’re helping us and just feel so thankful for that. But for anybody here that really wants to maybe be inspired by that process. And we’re by labor, both from the Commonwealth, so he’s process not process. So apologies to the audience, the United States, if you Where can people go to maybe learn more about this methodology? Yeah. Hi, hello, Obviously, they can find you there. Where else? Do you think that that might be a good resource for people that want to adopt their own programs?

Sura Al-Naimi 36:33
Absolutely. I think that, so obviously, highly closer, and that has a slew of articles and podcasts that have the word, which also we interviewed, the residents that were part of the idea have gone. So they’re able to share that,

Michael Hughes 36:46
right, you do that? That’s right, you do a series on that and screw

Sura Al-Naimi 36:50
things yourself. But then also, you know, there are some great resources out in the wild. Like, you know, IDEO is wonderful. They have such great snapshots of the process. There’s a great book called Sticky wisdom that was written by warranty. That’s like, you know, you can read that in the evening, it’s really great, it was another great book called How sellers save the farm. And that’s a fable that is based on an innovative book, but they can get into a fable, where a goat was reading, you know, a new industry of novellas. And you know, how does she do that, because the llamas are so outlandish and so new. So I’m gonna say those are absolutely great resources to kind of get, you know, get a little bit stuck in kind of whet the appetite for this. And the other thing that I would say is that there’s so much out there. So just take little bites, and start applying immediately. You know, that’s what I’ve seen is that when people, you know, get a concept like, yes, like, yeah, I get that, like, it’s so simple. But then all of a sudden, they start using it. In meetings, when initially, they will shut down something, a coworker is saying, all of a sudden, they’re using their teenager to really hear what the teenager is actually expressing. And so the thread that comes embedded, and it becomes more habitual. So while we can kind of get really a master until this, check for all these different resources, that can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. So just having it within a time will go a long way.

Michael Hughes 38:27
And I also like the idea of maybe some just activities people can do just to start small again, you know, just to put themselves into this creative, brush your teeth with the other hand, read a different magazine, or listen to a different podcast. Of course, this podcast should be the one that people listen to First, find another way to work. I love the story of the London transit strike from maybe 10 years ago, where the entire system went on strike. And everyone had to find a new way to work. And after the strike was over, you know, 10% of the people kept the new way. Because, you know, it was more, there was something new out there, that was better, and they just never discovered it yet. So take that new way to work, read that new magazine, talk to someone that you’ve never talked to before. I mean, these are all little things that can spur creativity. But before we come to the end of our podcast, three quick questions for you, sir. If you’ll allow me, we always ask our guests these three questions. And so it’s about aging. All right, that’s it. Okay. If I ask this of you, please do. Okay. All right. So, when you think about how you’ve aged Question number one, what do you think has changed about you or grown with you that you really like about yourself?

Sura Al-Naimi 39:37
What a great question. I think that my desire for my own company is that I really enjoy myself. So I would usually go out there and be looking for the next spot, clean new things and kind of feel a bit so they’re not satisfied. And then I realized that all the sparkly things were already within myself. So now I’m really enjoying it, which is great. I think that’s a massive shift since my 20s. And really was something that’s been coming into its own over just really the last couple of years. Oh, man

Michael Hughes 40:15
discovering your own richness inside yourself is wonderful. And okay, so question number two, what has surprised you the most about you, as you’ve aged?

Sura Al-Naimi 40:25
What has surprised me the most? I think that I always consider myself to be a very extroverted individual. And now I’m really discovering a love for soliciting, observing, and taking things in. So I wouldn’t have guessed that. Younger Sarah.

Michael Hughes 40:46
Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ve always I’m so excited. I always like to talk. But I mean, that’s something I want to do even as a podcast, so specimen. Exactly. Okay, so number three, is there someone that you’ve met or been in your life that has set a good example for you in aging? So someone that has maybe, as we call our series, somebody that’s inspired you to age with abundance?

Sura Al-Naimi 41:12
Okay, this is so easy for me to answer. Because I think that Katherine and I think her husband’s name is David, he would pause ideas on, literally, like ambassadors for how I want to age. So you know, they know all that blue living. So the tenants are having a good life, they’re doing the gardening masterclass. They’ve done their purpose workshops, they’ve saved, their life is just so full and meaningful and connected to the community. So I mean, that’s definitely my kind of, you know, fasciae. So, you know, see changing.

Michael Hughes 41:55
Oh, yeah, they just love to engage in it. And, you know, as we say, with the theme, abundant aging, I mean, there’s so much richness to life, as you age, even if your physical self is disappointing you, that is this might be the time you might be most creative or engaged. And we want to give everyone everywhere more chances to experience that joy. And I really love the answer to that question, sir. And I think that the couple is amazing. So thank you. So and then that means we’re actually coming to the end of this one. We’re coming to the end of this episode of The Art of aging innovators, part of the abundant he podcast series, which is from United Church homes, and we want to hear from you what’s changed about you as you age that you love what has surprised you the most? How do you define abundant aging? Who’s Your abundant aging hero? And what do you think of this concept of human centered design? You know, would you like to use it in your own life? And of course, we go to abundant aging to share your thoughts. And please like, share, subscribe. Abundant agent You can also find us on youtube under United Church homes. Please subscribe to that and you’ll get more great content, including our asking to have a guide series. And Surah again, where can people find you?

Sura Al-Naimi 43:14
Yes, they can find me at hello hello I already sold out the content of top tips on Instagram and again that kind of loose euro or sir I’ll levy on.

Michael Hughes 43:26
All right. Hi. Hello sera su are a great Well, thank you so much for being there. Thank you to our listeners for listening to this podcast. We hope to deliver you more great content in the future. Thank you so much. See you next time.