Creativity · Thoughts

Notes from the TEDx Gateway

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxGateway, where x = independently organized TED event.

On Saturday, I attended TEDx Gateway at Mumbai. They managed to put together an interesting mix of 16 speakers. I don’t think I made enough notes to write on each one. And then some were just not worth the time.

So here are some quick takes from the awesome ideas and thoughts that were presented at the conference.

Simplicity is the key

Rahul Panicker is developing a low-cost infant warmer which can work with or without electricity for rural areas of developing areas. Now, this warmer needs to be heated to a certain temperature for it to be effectively warm enough for the baby. And Rahul faced one problem, he saw that most mothers for safety measure decided to heat it to a few degrees less than prescribed just to be on the safe side. So to avoid this judgmental call which these mothers took, Rahul struck on an idea whereby he decided to have a heat sensitive sign on his warmer. If it was a smiling face the warmer was heated perfectly but if there was a frown it means that it yet needs to be heated.

No effort on training the mothers on the importance of being at the right temperature and so on. Make it simple and they’ll do it just the right way.

Solutions should adapt to local needs

Srini Swamitnathan teaches the 2nd grade class in a Dharavi Municipal School. Most students at this school were used to teachers who would beat them or scold them. So Srini had a tough time having these kids to open up and accept the education he was there to share with them. Srini took this as yet another corporate challenge and tried to understand what they wanted and how can school be fun for them. After lot of interaction and fun times with the children he innovated his teaching styles. Children learnt at every step. On the floor, at the switch board. Students were appointed as weathermen to share the weather every morning. Lessons were not just read but enacted with all the drama needed. It was fun to see his mobile whiteboard which we put on like an apron and walked around the class. And students interacted by marking keywords on this board.

I think this was so important for Srini to not just bring his learnings into a new environment but instead spend time learning on what’s needed and build solutions which fit it the best.

It’s not technology always

Arvind Gangaram Talekar, represents the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust of Mumbai. Of the many secrets he revealed about the Dabbawala it was very interesting to note that they have a failure rate of just 1 in 16 million transactions. And this is completely without the use of any technology in their operations. Hats off! And a great learning to see that not all processes or problems can be solved with technology.

Introduction to Behaviour Architecture

Satish Krishnamurthy from final mile spoke about Behaviour Architecture which is founded on new sciences like Behavioural Economics and Cognitive Neurosciences.He shared a project his company worked on which helped minimize the number of accidents due to trespassing at railway crossings. Railway boards have spent a lot money trying to tell people not to risk their lives by crossing the railways lines but to no avail and death numbers are only on the rise. Final Mile attempts to influence the trespasser’s behaviour through various warning signs, sounds and symbols just as he/she is about to make the decision to walk across the track.

A very interesting and enlightening session indeed and I really hope you can see this video online once the organisers manage to put it up.

Interestingly I also got an opportunity to chat with Biju Dominic, the co-founder of Final Mile and he shared some interesting projects they were working on which include a corporate client who wants their employees to follow more road safety like wearing seat belts, following speeds limits. Final Mile does not engage only with corporate clients but also takes up social causes with a mission. The team is currently working on a project to help minimize spitting at public places.

Behaviour Architecture seems like a very interesting topic to me and I am hoping to pick up a book on the same subject very soon. Let me know if you’ve got any title recommendations.

A face to the many twitter handles

The TEDx event also gave me the chance to meet many of the twitter handles I have been interacting with over the past few months or weeks. So there was Mysti, Sengupta, Media_Reveries. Also it was nice catching up with Netra and Rohanbabu. Aviraj and Inkv – nice meeting you too.

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4 thoughts on “Notes from the TEDx Gateway

  1. Was looking for a quick run down of TedX and this fit very well over there.. thanks for that Kapil..

    Regd. Behavioural Architecture check out Nudge by Richard Thaler, he’s one of the best known names in the field of behavioural economics n decision making

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