Spring 2022 event insights

Spring 2022 event insights

Connecting the dots across conference conversations on health data, adult education, cybersecurity workforce development, technology, and equity.

Members of the Luminary Labs team, like many others, are embracing the return to in-person events. This spring, we’ve been attending conferences and convenings in pursuit of fresh connections and insights to support work across our focus areas, including the future of work and education and the future of health.

Of course, focused conversations with industry experts always yield nuggets of inspiration — but the real magic comes from connecting dots across seemingly disparate spaces. Across sectors, we’ve noticed several themes emerging at recent conferences:

  • Equity. In the past, discussions of diversity, equity, and inclusion would be limited to a single session or panel discussion on race or gender. This year, conference organizers are doing more to center equity and expand its definition, making it part of conversations across sessions.
  • Technology. If the future is here, it’s not evenly distributed. Different industries and organizations have varying levels of comfort with technology and data. We’ve noted a wide range of experiences with piloting, prototyping, and successfully launching new solutions.
  • Ecosystems. Across industries, we’ve heard a growing recognition that new ideas aren’t useful if they aren’t sustainably integrated. Real impact requires understanding the context and systems in which solutions will operate.

Read on for top takeaways from five Luminaries: 

Last month, Open Innovation Engagement Manager Anjali Mehta and Senior Associate Julia Key attended Health Datapalooza in Arlington, Virginia. Anjali and Julia connected with people and ideas relevant to our future of health focus area, including our work on Mission Daybreak, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ grand challenge to reduce Veteran suicides.

“Centering equity with respect to health data requires thought and effort to create products and services that actually work. This effort happens at the very beginning of a project by crucially understanding what is being counted and how so that the demands for ‘data created by us, not for us’ and ‘no aggregation without representation’ can be met.” — Anjali Mehta

Also in April, Senior Associate Monica Tinyo was in Seattle for COABE 2022, the Coalition on Adult Basic Education’s annual conference. Monica spoke with experts, including educators and administrators, in support of our ongoing ED ARPA work with the U.S. Department of Education, which includes an open innovation challenge to explore how technology could be used to better support adult learners.

“During my conversations at COABE, it became clear that prototyping and piloting mean different things to different people. In education, end users sometimes prototype their own solutions for their own stakeholders without an intent to scale or monetize. Even though the work is the same, they don’t always recognize it as prototyping.” — Monica Tinyo

When we’re not making new connections or absorbing industry intelligence in support of client engagements, we’re often sharing what we’ve learned with our networks and communities. In late March, CEO Sara Holoubek joined a panel discussion at the AIGA Design Leadership and Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., that examined design’s role in the development of critical technologies. She shared our company’s philosophy — every decision is a design decision — and explained why we hug lawyers and embrace constraints.

“Every organization has limitations, from availability of tools to accessibility requirements. Instead of fearing guidelines, rules, and regulations, embrace them. Constraints can lead to better design; it’s possible to ‘crush compliance’ with solutions that are both elegant and accessible. Those who understand and design for trade-offs can earn trust and support, ultimately creating more sustainable solutions.” — Sara Holoubek

In March and April, Engagement Manager Alex Leader shared insights from our work on CTE CyberNet with European cybersecurity professors visiting the U.S. on a World Learning study tour.

“Talking with the World Learning delegation, it was clear that the U.S. is one of just many countries grappling with the challenge of cultivating an advanced cybersecurity workforce. I was thrilled to see that CTE CyberNet’s rigor and accomplishments inspired these professors to apply similar approaches in their home countries.” — Alex Leader

Some of the events we attend may not directly support a current project, but satisfy our curiosity and expand our horizons. Anjali and Senior Open Innovation Associate Lisa-Marie Pierre attended the Prime Meridian Unconference in New York, which explored how time constructs have impacted Black communities.

“Modern constructs of time are inextricably linked to technology and the quest to compress time. The ability to travel more quickly over the same distance — which is a compression of time over space — has led to advances in telecommunications and transportation. These advances have not always proved to be equal and contribute to systems of oppression. The Prime Meridian Unconference served as an experimental gathering point for futurists to discuss new ways of interacting and developing ideas within and without the bounds of time.” — Lisa-Marie Pierre

“The unconference format was instructive and inspirational. Exploring and embodying non-linear narrative structures show how structures and formats themselves can be used as equity interventions.” — Anjali Mehta

Photo by Behnam Norouzi