Prelude: The TUNING Toolkit

The TUNING Toolkit is a set of tools that helps people turn their ideas into B.Corps, NonProfits, and DIY/Open Source projects that make the world better. While it can be used by individuals, the toolkit works best for small self-organized groups or for teachers and mentors guiding their students and mentees in their creative projects. It’s designed specifically for projects sparked by a desire to help people.

This toolkit sits somewhere between the philosophical, process-oriented theory of art and design, on the one hand, and the practical, how-to guidelines used in engineering and entrepreneurship on the other hand. There is deep value to be found in both of these perspectives and even more in the combination of the two.

TUNING is the word I use for striving. On the art side of the equation, it may help to think of TUNING as the first thing an orchestra does when they meet for rehearsal or performance. Musicians use their ears, fingers, and sometimes their breath to tune their instruments so they can play well together. On the engineering side of the equation, TUNING shares some qualities with a well known process called POOGI, which stands for “Process Of OnGoing Improvement.” It’s used by industrial engineers to identify bottlenecks in a system and to make measurable adjustments so the whole system can operate in an improved way. 

If you are an artist or inventor with an idea for a project that aims to help people, then this toolkit can help you develop and launch that project. Some of the tools here can help you tap into an art & design mindset. You will use deep listening techniques to gain empathy with stakeholders and insight into the problems the project is designed to address. Other tools in this toolkit will help you tap into a business & technical mindset to implement your ideas with rigor and efficacy.

With this toolkit, I aim to help inventors work their way through common traps that many creative people, especially beginners, fall into. I’ve tried my best to avoid jargon, to use clear and accessible language throughout. The design of the toolkit is based on my own experience teaching and mentoring artists and inventors from all walks of life. I’ve also read and researched this discipline widely and deeply, and I will list some of my favorite resources in the appendix.

The TUNING Toolkit has three sections: BELIEVE, CREATE, and ORGANIZE. 

BELIEVE. This section discusses the importance of believing in yourself and defining your overarching goal. You’ll find tools here for navigating doubt and distractions.

CREATE. This section offers several tools to help you collaborate and to be flexible and open to stakeholders’ perspectives and emergent ideas. 

ORGANIZE. This section discusses how to launch a project into the world and how to expand or scale it.

To read through the first draft of this workbook, scroll to the bottom of this post and click on “next post” to read the next. Lather, Rinse, Repeat about nine times until you get to the last post in the series titled “Coda.”

While this toolkit is written linearly, it contains concepts that can be revisited throughout the process of working on your project. If you feel stuck at any point, look back at previous exercises to see if something there can help.