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HP explores how technology and services can help people and companies address their problems and challenges, and realize their possibilities, aspirations and dreams. They apply new thinking and ideas to create simple, valuable and trusted experiences with technology, and continuously improve the way customers live and work.

At TEDActive 2012, HP sponsored the TEDActive Color Project, harnessing the energy, optimism and talent of the TEDActive community to create innovative answers to big questions. Working with the TED team, HP focused the energy of thinkers and doers on answering this question: How can we use color as an effective tool?

The process

We jumpstarted the brainstorm online, creating a TEDActive Color Facebook Group as a conversation platform and promoting the discussion with this incredible video. On-site at Palm Springs, the excitement around the Projects was infectious. The week began with an immersive pre-conference Experience and an idea-sharing Builder's Breakfast, opening the question up to the community at a Picnic Lunch on Tuesday. As ideas coalesced around the Project Wall, the community went out to mingle and celebrate on Wednesday night at three breathtakingly scenic Project House Parties.

On Thursday, after final meetings, the entire community raised a glass to the ideas that emerged as the lead facilitators delivered short, inspiring talks during the Project Toasts.

The blogs, thoughts and the story of the Color Project were all recorded on a dedicated page on TED.com. Every Project was manned by a facilitator to encourage conversation, a storyteller to capture and represent ideas and an amplifier to take those ideas to the wider community.

The conversation online

  • 3 weeks
  • 195 members
  • 520 posts, comments and likes

Over two weeks leading up to the TEDActive conference, people joined the Facebook group to share their ideas and spark discussion. People shared posts and photos about interesting programs in their communities, related articles, videos and more.

Here are a few of the posts we loved (go to the Facebook Group to read them all!):

"There are no ugly colors, only colors in bad relationships." a quote from an amazing painter, and former professor of mine, Carl Blair -- Jack Burgess

What if computer keyboards were colorized and we typed in color? Could our brains adjust to learning how to read color as well as we naturally read the alphabet? Think how different today's media would look...the written language of color. -- Betsy Solfisburg Quinn

Color is actually the most basic tool of communication that we use. Often, we don't even realize that color is the medium of communication. Barcodes and QR codes are binary symbols that use the presence and absence of color (usually b/w, but not always) to tell scanners to process specific data points. -- Chris Carpenter

The conversation on-site

The Color Project began their journey in Palm Springs with a bike ride to local thrift stores, where everyone committed to exploring new colors they normally wouldn't wear. This prompted the question: What are personal, political and social influences that form our relationship to color?

On the second day, the group shared ideas on how color might be used in businesses and organizations. Can color amplify an idea? How might color build a team? Can color give confidence to those who don't think they're creative?

Moving this exploration forward, the group asked: How can color help ideas grow? As attendees began a discussion around the power of color to catalyze ideas, the most insightful and interesting ideas of the week began to emerge.

Insights and ideas

These are some of the most popular ideas and insights we discovered during this process. We hope that you find these as stimulating and exciting as the TEDActive community did:

  • Strengthen loyalty and build teams using color as an identifier and cultural touchpoint within an organization.
  • Use color to give creative confidence to employees, marking progress with colors as they move through a project.
  • Address a specific audience with color -- one financial start-up branded itself as orange to distinguish from competitors and immediately began attracting more women to their services.

  • Color can demonstrate a set of beliefs, but this changes with culture. For example, green used to represent financial services, but is now typically associated with the sustainability movement.
  • Use color to break boundaries, help people start discussions and identify with each other across belief systems, geographic distance and disciplines.

Watching the TEDActive community grow and think continues to be a thrilling journey, as over 600 attendees flock from all corners of the Earth to be a part of this community and these conversations. The TEDActive Projects continue to be a celebration of ideas, imagination, innovation and inspiration.

We hope that you will continue to join us on this intellectual adventure and many more in the future!