Innovating the Future of Childcare

Marie Peach

ARTICLE BY
Marie Peach
Senior Account Manager

Posted by Marie Peach in Ideas and Features on 10 April 2019

The Value Engineers curate transformative ideas for childcare

Childcare

The Childcare Challenge

Innovation in everyday life is happening so fast now that it’s almost taken for granted. It can seem as though each day we hear about another new way in which our domestic or work lives can be improved. In our work at Crowdicity, we’re often on the frontline of these discoveries, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But in some areas, disruption is still desperately needed.

The experience of childcare, say branding & innovation consultants, The Value Engineers, is still ‘difficult, complicated and expensive’. This raises an obvious question: in a world in which technology advances are changing everything we do – from food delivery to transport; from the way we consume TV to how we pay for things – why is something as vital as childcare falling so far behind?

A transatlantic ideation sprint

In March this year, The Value Engineers decided to find out. In partnership with Crowdicity, they set up a discussion on a Crowdicity platform to look at the subject of childcare through an innovation lens. The discussion, timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, was a week-long digital ideation session with participants from both sides of the Atlantic, with an ambitious goal in mind: to create a new vision for the future of childcare.

Using Crowdicity, TVE say, suited the purpose and innovative feel of this discussion perfectly. They believe that Crowdicity presents a great space for divergent thinking, encouraging participants to lean into novel ideas.

‘Interestingly, the smart ideation process itself is another example of how technology, creativity and vision can be harnessed among a collective to challenge broader issues that affect us all.
Irina Ikonsky, Senior Consultant at The Value Engineers

A series of challenges that inspired creative thinking

US and UK participants joined the ideation from day one and posted, rated and commented on each other’s ideas. The Value Engineers created two main challenges to get the creative juices flowing – one around reversing common assumptions about childcare and one about envisioning the state of childcare in 2029. All in all, a new vision of childcare emerged – one that focused on the renaissance of ‘back to basics’ – a combination of the human connection and purposeful living through the masterful repurposing of technology. This broke down into 4 key themes:

1. Intelligent tech

The community posted lots of intelligent tech solutions. Ideas included technology for monitoring childrens' health, apps for managing family life and one member even suggested a futuristic mobile play/learn space using staffed, self-drive vehicles that facilitate days out or visits to parents. This last was a group favourite!

2. Radical work flexibility

A popular theme about fitting childcare around work, the sweet spot for any parent! Ideas included the 4 day work week, childcare in every office and the option to mirror work hours to the school day.

3. It takes a village

There was a good deal of interest in the power of the community to support childcare in future. Standout ideas included Intergenerational Care – locating daycare in retirement communities and Timeshare Childcare – where families take turns to volunteer at local daycare.

4. The start-up model

There were lots of incredible Start-up-type ideas, including Empty Nester Uber Moms, an after-school pickup service run by 'Empty Nesters' and Plated for Kids to encourage healthy meal options.

TVE were delighted, both with the ideas posted and the rich discussions they sparked. They told us the format of Crowdicity suited this project for several reasons. A week-long crowdsourcing session, versus a single workshop, allowed for creative participation to happen over time so that ideas could gestate and grow. Gamification techniques on the platform encouraged an 'innate competitive nature', and, because the discussion was online it allowed for easy engagement from the group, regardless of time zone or location. An online discussion encouraged introverted people to take part too, which doesn’t always happen with a face-to-face workshop!

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