Fion Dobbin on Happiness, Design, Jazz and Business
Ireland, Germany and Latvia might be an interesting triangle, but it seems that Fionn Dobbin, the guest of Kaunas 2022 for the International Day of Happiness, has found his happiness in its corners. His design experience now works as a successful tool for both social and business projects (as well as social business). Fionn will tell us more about the combination of happiness and design in his lecture on March 20th (6:30 PM at Knygų ministerija, Laisvės av. 29) and will also take part in the launch of Designing Happiness program of Kaunas 2022 on March 21st (5:30 PM at VMU L. Donskis library, V. Putvinskio st. 23). Meanwhile, he agreed to answer a few questions about the main topics in his life.
Tell us about MAMMU, the social business model you created.
MAMMU started as a fashion company that closely cooperates with young Latvian mothers in need. Many of them are less mobile in the job market due to their inability to work fixed working hours. Involvement of these mothers in the business of MAMMU providing them with flexible working hours is both ends and means of the business activity of this social business company. MAMMU organizes their training, teaches them skills required for production and provides them with information needed for setting up their own micro-enterprises for production.
Meanwhile we pivoted to a design production company producing goods for others labels, the business model changed while its social business structure remained untouched.
Whom does it bring the most happiness to?
Let me quote Dr Muhammad Yunus (Bangladeshi social entrepreneur who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance, – editor’s note): “Making money is a happiness. And that’s a great incentive. Making other people happy is a super-happiness”.
So, one could say, creating happiness is one of the main motors which drives a social business.
We have heard that sometimes you call yourself happyDobbin – what is the history behind this name?
It was the nickname of my Irish great grandfather a well-known greyhound breeder, because of his cheerful way of living people started to call him happy. The same happened somehow to myself.
What is the connection between jazz music improvisation and design activities you apply while consulting companies?
Every organization depends on teams and their ability to innovate fast. When we work together with a company on their business transformation processes, we, in some cases, work together with jazz musicians to let them experience the agility and flexibility of jazz teams. The 100-year old jazz tradition of collaboration and improvisation offers an important tool set for innovation and transformation processes for today and tomorrow.
Jazz music is improvisation – the invention of melodies in a given framework while interacting with other musicians live on stage. Together, the whole band creates musical innovation. Jazz is the sound of a team realizing innovation in a very open way without words. Highly skilled individual musicians celebrate a continuously connected collaboration to realize innovation live on stage. They are responsible for each other’s performance. Every single musician is the owner of sound wave of the band – even when not playing.
Do you feel your happiest in Latvia, where you reside at the moment?
I feel very happy and I love living in Latvia, but happiness doesn’t come from what’s outside of you, it comes from inside. I have experienced happiness in all parts of the world.
As a lecturer at Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, what core values of life do you try to deliver to your students?That everything is within us. In a classical sense, I don’t teach, I unleash, that’s why we design learning experiences that unleash creativity, design thinking, creative leadership or even entrepreneurship. It’s about empowering students by letting them experience the power of passion, joy and creativity.