A deep lesson in human-centered innovation. Thanks, @k12lab @stanforddschool

Yesterday, I enjoyed a magnificent experience at the d.School (The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University). To be honest, I feel a bit like an eight year old at Disney World for the first time. It’s magical, and I love that the reality only enhanced the magic, rather than diminishing it in any way. And yet, I also love that there is really nothing magic about it – the process and practice of design thinking is truly accessible to everyone and absolutely practicable.

Today, the adventure continues as we move into Day 2 of the “Intro to Design Thinking” workshop for educators, hosted by the K12 Lab. Our challenge focuses on designing for mothers of multiples.

When Susie Wise asked me on Monday why I was attending an introductory workshop, I responded that I always have plenty to learn, and I was most excited to see how they would approach a workshop promising to be an introduction. In addition to sharpening my skills as a practitioner, I would also be paying meta-attention to what they decided to focus on in a two-day, introductory experience. Surely, this would sharpen my facilitator know-how, as well.

Well, the learning for me was extraordinary. Whereas I generally try to pack ten pounds of flour into five pound sacks, the d.School never seemed to rush or hurry or overstuff. They concentrated on the essentials, and they really focused on the people present. For the first couple of hours, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, with a civilized start time of 9:00 a.m., and we worked with a variety of partners through a series of sparks to teach about engaging our creative confidence, to lean into failing forward, and to develop our empathy muscles further. We did not even begin the actual challenge until near lunchtime. And the most intensive direct instruction was so very purposeful around the ideas of interviewing and unpacking an interview.

And at the end of the day, there was a quick acknowledgement about the “mood meter,” and we shifted to wonderfully childish finger painting. We didn’t try to jam or pack another phase into the afternoon – the facilitators perceived we needed some human maintenance, and so we let that rule the closing hour.

That was a real education for me as a learner and as a facilitator. Go with your user. Don’t just cover and deliver because you have a curriculum to cover. I’ll work hard to follow that extraordinary example from my new teachers at the d.School.


Bo’s quick capture on Storify of highlights from the day. Plus a photo gallery below.

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