Friday, August 30, 2013

Introducing Design Thinking to School Faculty

On Wednesday, I was part of a facilitation team leading a 3-hour workshop for our whole school's faculty and staff (about 100 people) introducing Design Thinking.  It was wildly successful!

If you so desire, you can read our "lesson plan" here: Intro to DT Lesson Plan
You can also find our slide deck here: Intro to DT Deck

Huge, giant, enormous, unending thanks to Mary Cantwell at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, Jennifer Chan of Exhibit Change, and Ellen Deutscher at for their input and support in developing our plan, and to my colleague and co-conspirator Shaye' Whitmer for co-facilitating with me!


- Our version of Jenn's Oreo exercise to highlight divergent experience was a huge hit, and participants shared some hilariously divergent methods for eating Oreos.  Milk was sorely missed!

- We were quite proud of the final "HMW" offered to participants, and one of my brand-new-to-DT co-facilitators did an awesome job explaining our facilitator group first round of Empathize/Define to get to that "HMW"!

From: Let's reconsider and redesign our experience with food... To:
How Might We support keeping energy positive and healthy throughout the school day?

- Groups interviewing each other, sharing stories, and re-defining the problem statement led to a huge wealth of different areas of focus, almost NONE of which had a focus on food at all!

- Brainstorming butcher paper sheets were wild, colorful, and groups really got WAAAY outside the box in their thinking! (There wasn't as much "visual" as we hoped, and more "written words" than expected, but...)

- As soon as we released groups for prototyping, groups dashed to the materials tables to pick up construction items!  Paper plates, pipe cleaners, Pringles containers, construction paper, and more!

- Team-to-team sharing after the first round of prototyping was positive, people utilized Greg Bamford's "I like, I wish, What if?" feedback scaffold, and groups actually reformed following that first sharing!  Two pairs of groups merged (from 4 groups to 2), and one group split in half (from 1 group to 2).

- (When I was asked for "permission" for these changes to happen, my first instinct was to clench up and wonder whether that was "okay," but we totally rolled with it!  Look at me... all flexible-like!)

The Final Products, delivered in one 1 minute elevator speeches!

1.) creating a new position in the school: The Recharge Coach!
2.) creating personal "mood meters" for everyone to self-monitor their energy levels
3.) creating mini-sensory-control chairs, including headphones and scent masks, for breaks
4.) implementing "UnTime" for everyone to pursue their own passions (Howdy, #GeniusHour!)
5.) creating a new committee: EDG@E (Experience Design Group @ Evergreen !)
6.) three different groups designed
7.) relaxation, play, and snack spaces
8.) into our upcoming building project!
9.) every staff and student keeping a "Smile File" to access when feeling down/stressed
10.) re-structuring the school day to include early-start/early-end options and late-start/late-end options.

I'm madly in love with the variety of solutions from huge new spaces to school organizational changes to small implement-it-tomorrow ideas.

I'm still working on typing up everyone's answers to the final reflections questions, especially "What do you NEED to move forward with Design Thinking?" and will add those soon.  There are lots of requests for a committee to support teachers in implementing ideas in their classrooms, as well as requests for ways to use design thinking in decision-making processes within the school!

Next Friday (yes, on the third day of school), we'll be presenting Design Thinking to our school Board of Trustees, and will present these outcomes as well as give the Trustees some playful experiences of their own.

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