Empathy Toys and the Future of Work and Learning

Hi! We’re Twenty One Toys!

We’re called Twenty One Toys because we design and manufacture toys that teach 21st century skills. When we first started Twenty One Toys it was around the question: “How do we better prepare our offices and schools for the 21st century?”. Essentially what that means is these key 21st century skills: Innovation, Creativity, Collaboration and Complex Problem Solving.The difficulty with these key 21st century skills, that the experts are saying are now crucial, is that they’re quite hard to practice, assess and even understand. And even more importantly, you can’t teach them with a textbook. Which is why, through the work we’re doing, we’ve discovered that you can teach them with toys. That’s why we stole this headline from the Huffington Post that says that, ‘Toys are the new Textbooks’.

The reason we’re doing this is because of statistics like this one- where groups of three year olds were tested for creative genius, 98% of them were considered creative geniuses but by the time they were 25, only 2%. And even looking at more recent statistics, studies are now showing that students who have higher grade point averages (higher marks) are actually doing a far worse job at the traits necessary for innovation. Where they’re saying, these things are actually inversely related.

Now if we look at the study that was done with Fortune 500 companies, the top three job skills in 1970 they were looking for were reading, writing and arithmetic. In 1999, the key skills they were looking for were, teamwork, problem solving and interpersonal skills. Looking at innovative companies like Google, who say that GPA’s and marks are not a worthwhile criteria to look at while hiring. They say that test scores are worthless when they’re making the decision about who they bring on board. If you look at companies like LinkedIn, Slack and Harvard Business Review, the number one job skill they’re looking for is … empathy. Even studies out of the Harvard Business Review from this year have shown that there’s a direct link between empathy and commercial success. Companies that invested in empathy showed a 50% increase in earnings.

This is the Empathy Toy- a blindfolded, wooden puzzle that’s played when one or more players are given a built pattern and they have to describe that pattern so one or more players can recreate it. The challenge is that they’re actually blindfolded. They’re blindfolded before they are even given the pattern. This toy, while it started off as a student project, is, as of today, in over 43 countries, in 1000 schools, and over 100 offices. With one of the biggest milestones to date, that TIME magazine featured it as “one of 6 new technologies shaping classrooms of the future”. Here’s a window into some of the key people who are currently using The Empathy Toy both in their work and in the way that they teach. These are just some of the organizations that are using The Empathy Toy.

We have organizations that are using it for training and team building to introduce empathy as a key part of the way they work together, as well as the way that they offer services to their customers. We also have schools that are transforming. Like this one in Winnipeg, that used Then Empathy Toy to start and empathy-based leadership program called ‘21 Leaders’. They found a reduction of 85% conflict based office referrals over the course of 3 years.

The reason that they can do this is because of these guidebooks, that offer 50 different variations of the game play. Anything from who’s blindfolded and who isn’t, to how to work in large groups… To how to adapt the toy to introduce a range of topics- anywhere from Teamwork and Collaboration, Creative Communication, Autonomous Learning, Conflict Resolution, Diversity and Inclusion, and even touching on the aspects of empathy and how it relates to innovation.

Once you’re armed with the toy, you can lead your own Empathy Toy workshop. Or, you can have us come in to lead one for your team. There are a lot of different options for how we can engage, but at the end of the day, our mission is to create the first global community of toy educators and facilitators, bringing empathy and play into the way they work. Because innovation is not about filling a room with computers.

So, if you’re interested, get in touch! We’d love to hear from you! You can always drop us a note at hello@twentyonetoys.com. Until then, keep playing!

AREA PLAY 19 | Empathy Toys and the Future of Work and Learning | Ilana Ben-Ari 

Salone Satellite acoge la exposición Paral.lel 2: Doityourself.

Salone Satellite es un evento que tiene lugar cada año en el marco del Salone del Mobile de Milán. La actividad se dedica a estimular en los jóvenes diseñadores la comunicación de su potencial creativo y la puesta en contacto con la industria.
El evento fue creado en 1998 con el propósito específico de reunir en un mismo lugar y tiempo a las jóvenes promesas del diseño con las empresas y caza-talentos más importantes del mundo, concentrados en Milán con motivo del Salone Internazionale del Mobile.
Salone Satellite se convirtió inmediatamente en un observatorio de creatividad internacional: el trampolín más importante del mundo para los diseñadores del futuro.
Cada año, alrededor de 700 jóvenes exhiben e intercambian sus ideas en este escaparate, donde grandes diseñadores mundialmente conocidos como Oki Sato, fundador de Nendo, hicieron su debut.
El encuentro cuenta con un Comité de Expertos encargado de la selección de los participantes, en el que se han incluido nombres como: Giulio Castelli, Italo Lupi, Alessandro Mendini, Paola Antonelli, Philippe Starck, Mario Bellini, Maddalena De Padova, Matteo Thun, Alberto Alessi, Pierluigi Cerri o James Irvine.
Con motivo del décimo aniversario de Salone Satellite, en el año 2007 se organizó la exposición “Avverati”, comisariada por Beppe Finessi, en la que se presentaba un panorama general de las nueve ediciones anteriores. En este espacio se exhibieron alrededor de 400 objetos producidos por los mejores fabricantes italianos y extranjeros, que habían sido presentados en el satélite como prototipos. Con esta muestra se demostraba la eficacia del certamen como lanzadera de nuevos talentos.
En su edición 2016 un grupo de alumnos de la Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería del Diseño, en la Universitat Politècnica de València, exponen su serie Paral·lel 2. Un catálogo de productos diseñados bajo la premisa del DIY (Do It Yourself) en el marco de la asignatura Diseño para Ocio y Hábitat. Coordinados por el equipo docente integrado por Miguel Abarca, Kiko Gaspar y Manuel Lecuona, este grupo de jóvenes diseñadores han presentado seis piezas distintas fabricadas en tablero compacto de fibras de madera de alta densidad. Un organizador de objetos, un armario, una mesita de noche, una mesa auxiliar, un generador de ambientes y por último un producto que llama especialmente nuestra atención por su relación con el juego y los estilos de vida relacionados con la infancia: el baúl para juguetes PULL & PLAY, diseñado por Borja Moragues, Gemma Pastor, Juan Manuel Pascual, Lita Gómez y Silvia Arroyo.
Un contenedor para almacenar juguetes y artículos infantiles que, gracias a su alfombra extraíble, permite generar un espacio de juego adecuado y atractivo para el niño. Pull&Play cuenta con un mecanismo para extraer y guardar la alfombra de manera sencilla y rápida, sin necesidad de accesorios adicionales.
Por tratarse de una pieza de mobiliario, el contenedor se puede situar en cualquier lugar común de la casa a la vista de los adultos para que, sin necesidad de interrumpir sus actividades, estos puedan compartir espacio de ocio con sus hijos.
Su color neutro y sus formas ortogonales, facilitan su ubicación en cualquier habitación, ya que no rompe con ninguna estética. Y además está diseñado cumpliendo con las normativas de seguridad.
Pull&Play es un producto en cuyo diseño se ha resuelto de forma eficaz una doble función, el juego y el almacenaje, simplificando procesos y facilitando el día a día en las casas habitadas por niños.

AREA PLAY 17 | Salone Satellite acoge la exposición Paral.lel 2: Doityourself. | Patricia Rodrigo Franco y Beatriz García Prósper