The Institute for Social Design (ISD) believes that the foundational insights and skills needed to achieve optimal and sustainable success can be learned. Yet, they are not explicitly, uniformly, or universally taught in schools or homes.
Primary and secondary schools essentially teach subjects such as literacy, math, sciences, geography, history, physical fitness and arts. Tertiary education teaches specialized vocational competencies such as the analytical and technical knowledge needed to advance our career interests and goals. At ISD, we refer to this education as ‘above-the-surface’ learning.
We define competencies such as critical thinking, empathy, social intelligence and success skills as ‘below-the-surface.’ As fundamental as these learnings are for both personal and professional growth, we find they are not consistently offered at this time. When primary and secondary education is not supported by the underlying context of behavior insights and interpersonal skills, knowledge is disseminated but may only become absorbed like seeds that fall on top of the ground. Not unlike a sprout, under these conditions, it can grow quickly over a short period of time, but it can wither just as fast because there is nothing below the surface to ensure its long-term sustainability. However, if we grow a deeper root (knowledge) system, then, like a well-grounded tree it will develop the depth, breadth and height needed to prevail over time and through turbulent conditions.
The Institute for Social Design is devoted to providing ‘below-the surface’ skills and insights that till the soil of our minds, providing a richer environment in which knowledge and experiences can grow and flourish with greater stability and longevity. These practices are often simple in nature, though the behavioural applications are much more difficult to implement. Not unlike going to a gym, where it takes more than an initial introduction to experience productive change, time and repetition is needed to gain the understanding and ability to achieve improved performance and secure transformational results. For these reasons, we are devoted to providing a range of education and consultative programs that meet individual and corporate needs.