From Prototype to Fruition (Session 3)

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The last session of this three-week workshop discussed how we assess risk and test our assumptions.

For the first part of the class, we wrote down three key risks on stickies and assigned them to a box on the Lean Canvas – mine were around whether our paying customers were interested in design thinking methods at all, whether our funding model would require us to spend the bulk of our time catering to our paying customers rather than our low-income beneficiaries, and (if we focus on teacher training over student engagement) whether a lack of resources would prevent teachers from being able to implement what they learned.

Reading through the notes articulated by others in our class made it clear that the most well-articulated risks are those that have an implicit benchmark and are measurable. Continue reading

From Prototype to Fruition (Session 2)

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Last week, we discussed some challenges around the lean canvas – from clear descriptions, to unique value propositions vs. solutions, to the different between a for-profit business idea and its form(s) as an impact venture. We also started assessing the risks inherent in our ideas.

Thinking in this way is new to me, and doesn’t come easily. To stretch my muscles, I tried to envision Building Bridges as a series of different ventures and assess the risks inherent in each (I’d love to hear feedback in the comments!). Continue reading

From Prototype to Fruition (Session 1)

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I’m using my time as an exchange scholar at Stanford to take a number of short pop-up classes at the d.school; I’m hoping they will provide some useful tools for both incorporating into current Building Bridges programmes and for thinking about where we are heading next. One of these is From Prototype to Fruition – it’s a three-week taster taught by Stefanos Zenios and Matthew Glickman, drawing from the two-quarter GSB course Start-up Garage, and it’s offered within the d.school to encourage a quick-and-dirty, iterative approach to developing business models. Continue reading

Exponential Ideation

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Yesterday I took part in a d.school pop-out class called Exponential Ideation, with Elysa Fenenbock and Aithan Shapira, and it was chock-full of activities and prompts that I plan to steal shamelessly for Building Bridges. In fact, I would almost describe it as a (six-hour marathon) BB workshop for adults. At an art gallery! Today’s focus was on brainstorming as someone else (and reflecting on what that felt like), empathy as a form of ideation, translating ideas across media and industries, and changing constraints through unusual pairings. Here’s a run-down of what we did today, in case you find it as useful as I did. A note, though – I haven’t edited this post for readability, just used it as a brain dump for future use, so I apologise if it’s hard to get through. I hope the emphases and spacing and pictures help! Also, did you know that massaging your face can make your brain feel better? Continue reading

Design Thinking at the d.school

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I’ve been reading a lot, and hearing a lot, about design thinking and human-centred design in the three years since I started Building Bridges. Even though I felt totally on board with the principles they were advocating, I was never quite sure where to start, or how to dive in (even with the help of the Stanford d.school’s Bootcamp Bootleg). So when I discovered that there was a 3-hour design thinking workshop the same week I’d be in Stanford visiting Jon, I immediately paid the $5 and signed up.

The verdict?

I absolutely loved it, although I was a little surprised about why. Continue reading