Born in the Netherlands, these days Arjan Tupan lives in Riga, Latvia – from where he runs a strategic consulting boutique. A seasoned OpenIDEO collaborator, Arjan has created winning concepts alongside sharing clips of personal insight on internships plus tips to help newcomers to OpenIDEO learn the ropes and has even used poetry to inspire the OpenIDEO community. In fact, he's been writing a poem everyday as part of his ongoing pursuit to publish a book.
What first drew you to get involved in OpenIDEO?
I can’t exactly remember, but I’m always keen on trying new things. I read an article online about OpenIDEO and the words ‘open’, ‘innovation’ and ‘social good’ drew my interest. I looked at the running challenge ( The Jamie Oliver Challenge on raising kid's awareness of fresh food) and was hooked. I loved how I was inspired by all the contributions – but also how people were building on what others contributed.
And how's the ride been so far?
Joining OpenIDEO was a great decision and it has been a wonderful experience. There have been many highlights, of which one was the Open Planet Ideas workshop in London. Also meeting all these great people online, from various global locations and stages of life – all with the mindset to change things for the better.
A couple of random stories: some colleagues of my wife were at the Cannes Lions festival last year and I got messages from them that even there they could not escape me, as a video about OpenIDEO was being shown in which I was featured. And the fact that in one speech by Tim Brown at a designers conference I was referred to as a ‘Latvian Surfer’ after I posted a surfing related inspiration on the Australian Local Food Challenge. He obviously hasn't seen me on a surfboard!
But what I like most is that OpenIDEO gives the opportunity to think and act globally, with people from all over the world.
You describe yourself as a "communicator and connector." How do you use this approach on OpenIDEO?
What struck me when I first joined was how helpful people are to others. Building on things, but also helping out with some tips. I really felt comfortable with that. So if I see that someone is new and could use a little guidance, I try to help out with tips and a little how-to instruction on the User Forums. We now have a New Users Forum – go check it out! I also set up one of those automated daily newspapers using Paper.li. I try to keep a list of Twitter accounts from OpenIDEO users – and based on that the OpenIDEO Tribune comes out daily with links that OpenIDEATORS have shared via Twitter. There’s something about this awesome community that makes for an interesting daily dose of snippets from around the globe.
Can you share some favourite socially innovative projects you've been involved with?
My first personal endeavor in socially innovative projects was a run challenge I set for my colleagues when I was working for a global consulting company. Together with a colleague from Sweden we managed to convince around 70 people around the world (India, Europe, USA) to run a 10 km distance on the same day, and raise money for a charity. The result was that about 20 girls in India received a year education, paid for by the sponsors of our runners.
These days the inspiration I get from OpenIDEO, I use in my daily life. For example in my work with the Ronald MacDonald House charity and also in a local business network to push for a more transparent and socially responsible business attitude in Latvia.
What are your future plans around design + social impact?
Being on OpenIDEO has opened my eyes to a different way of thinking. I’m much more into early prototyping now – and trying to design solutions for participation and social impact. As I’m currently looking for a new challenge (moving to a new country and finding my next job) so I am absolutely looking for something which integrates these things. The OpenIDEO community has really influenced me in a very positive way: the energy and also the positive, can-do attitude.
Cheers Arjan. We hope to enjoy more of your collaborative action in future!