Tara O’Neil
designer    l    strategist    l    futurist

Education: BAA, MDes, SMARTlab PhD Candidate

Tara O’Neil is a designer, a strategist and a futurist, with more than twenty-five years of professional experience advising major industry on the impact of human behavior and the consumer experience. Developing innovative business models and environments Tara endeavoured to disrupt existing mental models and develop new ways of thinking, seeing and understanding. In addition to her professional practice, she took her Master’s in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University in Toronto, Canada. By combining futures studies and innovation, Tara found a new set of tools available for exploration.

As a SMARTlab-IDRC PhD candidate, Tara is continuing her work in the domain of Disruptive Technologies applying this thinking to the area of rural reinvention by creating meaningful solutions for people at the elusive intersection between creativity and business.

 

Current Research

Science and art are both required to solve complex problems. This isn’t the right-brain and the left-brain meeting in the middle it’s the right-brain and the left-brain combining to create something new. We need to be all “all brained”.

Futures studies is a method of inquiry that utilizes both sides of the brain. Wicked problems are complex problems exacerbated by exponential growth.

Tara is researching how experiential futures can be used to help solve these problems by creating a place where creativity can be unleashed. By looking out 20, 30 50 or even 100 years we can see hidden opportunities and threats. We can imagine the possibilities of driving forces present today and we can prepare. To understand the future, we need to go there. Virtual reality provides an opportunity to travel to unexplored worlds delivering opportunities for people to immersive themselves, make choices and experience life. It is here that emerging knowledge surfaces.

Tara is researching how this knowledge can be released, captured and used to create radical innovation. This type of thinking pushes well beyond typical brainstorming where groups capture low hanging fruit but are unable to stretch their thinking and imaginations beyond what’s immediately visible. The need for “all brained” thinking is upon us. Tara hopes to contribute theory and methodologies to help more people tap into their ability to harness the “all brain” thinking we all possess.

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