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Announcement – From doers to trainers and from CEO to Head of Design: our future is here

This may take a minute.

For the last 18 years I’ve been on a radical journey, organising concerts on Sorry Day at Sydney University, founding AIME, growing it, growing my brain as a mentor and taking AIME to the world. The gift of which has revealed to me our superpowers. First, our ability to build bridges between those with power and those at risk of being left behind. We have continued to foster a complex social network, protecting the grey space, and now that network can power remarkable change into the future. Our second superpower is mentoring – we are global leaders in this field. We have codified and broken down the elements that it takes to be a mentor and we can now train it at scale for free. We believe being a mentor is the highest prize to strive for as a citizen. And finally, the third superpower – we believe this to be the origin of all thought, the power to change ourselves, and the world around us, the place where it all begins, every action, every word, every thought: imagination.

Today I’m announcing the end of my time as CEO, as I step full time into the Head of Design role at AIME to focus all my energy on sharing our three superpowers with the world as we go from doers to trainers with the landmark opening of IMAGI-NATION{UNIVERSITY} in 2021.

The focus of the university – to provide a stage for university students, school students, teachers, executives, and citizens to be trained in Imagination & Mentoring over a 5-day digital course, and then to be organised into networks of 10 to spend the following 10 months pursuing their action projects to eradicate educational inequality and, more broadly, solve the challenges of tomorrow.

You will see university students organising their fellow students to be mentors to go back and connect with marginalised high school kids. You will see school students given the stage to lead and show they are not the problem, they are the solution. You will see executives committing to levelling the playing field by implementing Co-CEO programs and building out their own strategies for equitable change in the rooms of power. You’ll see teachers around the world bringing to life AIME’s world of IMAGI-NATION on the last Friday of every month. And you’ll see every day citizens making pledges to create a fairer world, with AIME providing the IMAGI-NATION training tools, the mentoring philosophical frames and roadmap, and the network of people around the world coming together to power each other on.

If we want to change the world, we have to change the way it works and that is going to happen with engineering.

We are going to say from here on out, we’ll work on imagination, we’ll give the world a framework for change, we’ll rip the doors off their hinges so a 7-year-old kid from Kalgoorlie to Kampala has a direct connect to the wealthiest people in the world, and then we’ll back the human spirit to lead and drive the change forward.

I started this as a 19-year-old with the belief that life should be fair, that we are better in a complex world where we see each other’s potential, not one where we destroy each other for our past.

We have truly remarkable possibilities ahead – life on Mars, re-imagined ways of success and societal design… Educational inequity is something every one of us faces when we let our imagination die. Our imagination is our freedom, our ability to picture tomorrow, it’s what powers MJ’s buzzer beater, through to Madiba’s long walk. It’s what changes a teacher’s vocabulary. It’s what shifts the way we walk, the way we eat, the way we greet each other, the way we be. It’s our everything and our organisation’s legacy will be the world’s most incredible IMAGI-NATION{LIBRARY} showcasing the thinking which has broken down into edible form the wonder of our muscle called imagination, and what happens when we gel that superpower with the fortitude and nobility of the mentor, and gather in spaces which remove the differences between black and white, rich and poor, old and young, and we get to work to create. Oh my friends, imagine what’s possible.

I’m inspired to retire the CEO role, which is so flawed to rely on one person, and to replace it with a council of minds guided by our newly announced General Manager (or as she prefers, #33) Taryn Marks who you’ll hear from in the next week. Taryn will be supported by our newly arrived council of elders, our Mentors in Residence, who will shepherd our key leaders for 3-month stints on the AIME rocket ship/bullet train before handing on the baton to the next class of Mentors in Residence. These are world class thinkers who can make sure we can pull off this extreme dream we are working towards – truly changing the world – with imagination as our super power, and you as a part of a network built on unlikely alliances. We will be running this organisation in a cellular circular decentralised fashion moving forward.

To get a sense of the calibre of our Mentors in Residence here’s our first crop who are currently graduating:

If you’re keen to be a MIR flick us an email.

Alongside our Mentors in Residence we have our Global Board, Chair Tom Dery AO, Bronwyn Bancroft, Ben Jones, Chris Wirasinha and Helen Wiseman, and our US Board of Tom Dery AO, Professor Emeritus Chris Bartlett, Barbara Bartlett – both of which I sit on as Director – and we are about to launch a fundraising squad led by John Winning.

Where am I going? Well definitely not out to pasture. I’m always going to be the Founder of this world, and I’m going to focus my time as our Head of Design. It’s a little bit like what Google did and a lot like what we are doing.

We’ve just concluded our 10-year celebration of Hoodie Day with the campaign WE IMAGINE, and we’ve declared what we imagine in the next 10 years.

Here are some of the headlines for us:

1) Eradicate educational inequality and influence the levers that create the inequality to change how they function and build a fairer world.

2) Launch IMAGI-NATION{UNIVERSITY} for 5-year-olds to 95-year-olds, from all races and spaces. It’s 5 days online teaching, then 10 months of students applying the theories they’ve learnt to practically creating a fairer world. Applications for IMAGI-NATION{UNIVERSITY} will open October 1 and the University will commence 11 January 2021 with our 5 day online course.

3) Take IMAGI-NATION{TV} MAGIC SCHOOL BUS to schools around the world, day in, day out, to give the space for kids outside the margins to show they are not a problem to be fixed but the solution when given the stage. AND to bring world class thinkers into the school to create a space for complexity and understanding how to be and what to be in the 21st century. The IMAGI-NATION{TV} episode with Stan Grant, Adam Spencer, Avani Dias & Chris Wirasinha was a good example of what we are looking to do with the MAGIC SCHOOL BUS. AND to do that and everything else, we are taking the next few months off IMAGI-NATION{TV} and will be returning on October 1 to open applications to IMAGI-NATION{UNIVERSITY}.

4) Open a physical IMAGI-NATION{FACTORY} to have a training ground for kids and adults at large to turbo-charge their imagination. Think a little bit Willy Wonka, Meow Wolf, Sleep No More, Museum of Ice Creamand a lot of us. Check this IMAGI-NATION{TV} episode with Lucy Turnbull AO, Simon McGrath, Cass O’Connor, and Annie Tennant talking about the spaces that have changed our lives.

5) Explore the economic modelling that has got us here and HOODIE ECONOMICS. Check out the episode of IMAGI-NATION{TV} where we talk about re-imagining economics.

6) Speaking of hoodies – we wanna make the most meaningful hoodie in the world – and if anyone wants to partner with us on THIS HOODIE PAYS RENT, keen to kick it around with ya.

7) And then there’s our IMAGINE feature film, there’s IMAGI-NATION{MAGAZINE} to download the knowledge of the mentors and kids coming together around the world, there’s IMAGI-NATION{GALLERY} to give a stage for kids’ art careers to launch and established artists to give back, and a host of other ideas we are imagining.

And through it all my promise to you, leading this design work, is we are unapologetically going for the big prize. We see what imagination can do and we want to create a powerful IMAGI-NATION{LIBRARY} for humanity that lives beyond our time. We see what dangerous social networks can do when they isolate us and remove the space for complexity and we want to fight for that grey space and continue to be a space for ALL and a complex social network for GOOD.

We will strive, we will fail with pride, we will get up day in, day out and push the limits. This world is not a re-run of a story we already know. If we have BRAVERY we can write the next chapter together. It will be ugly, exhausting and maybe the most incredible thing we could ever hope to do.

My challenge to you now as an AIME friend, take 20 minutes and read this strategy (we are always drafting 😘) for the next 5 years that our Board just approved. Take the time to do the thinking about what you can do, and then write to us, and let’s do it together.

It’s time for AIME to move from doing to training, and that’s what you’ll see from us when we return on October 1 with the launch of IMAGI-NATION{UNIVERSITY}.

And…. see ya later CEO title – I never really liked you anyway – hello to a world of Pure IMAGI-NATION.

JMB, Founder + Head of Design, inspired by Nelson Mandela, the other JMB, Willie Wonka and Robin Hood.

Jack Manning Bancroft

13th August 2020

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