The Journey

One of the things I’ve heard at some point in time at every design thinking event I’ve ever gone to is, “This process is not linear. Sometimes you’ll empathize before you discover, and sometimes you’ll experiment before you empathize. Different steps make sense in different places depending on the problem you are facing,” and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that more than in the design challenge I’m currently working on. There’s been some experimenting both with the prototypes and how the group works best together. We have the mass user of the student body, and I think we’ve had some trouble deciding how to go about both interviewing them to find their needs and eventually getting feedback from them on the prototypes we create. I’m considering sending a survey, but for one thing our school sends a lot of surveys and I think students start to ignore them after a time (I know I do, along with a few other emails I get), and I’m also not sure how effective that way of getting mass information is. I would love to get some thoughts on that if you are reading this post.

The Lightbox

A brief run down of the problem we have decided to tackle is that while students have quite a bit of free time at our school, they don’t really have a space to decompress in and many times they end up clogging up the stairs of our Lightbox (seen above). This are some of our initial thinking and planning:

early plans

We want to make the Lightbox a place students can relax and spend time with their friends by putting in more comfortable furniture and game tables. Last Thursday, the group set up a camera over looking the Lightbox to see how students used it during lunch and study hall time. Here is the footage from that:

I talked a bit in “My Ah-ha Moments” about how I’m having some trouble adapting to being the leader and sole decision-maker of a group, and I’m happy to say that I think I’m adjusting pretty well, so thank you to Mr. Boden for his advice that helped me get to this point. It’s becoming a bit more natural to ask things of people and not feel like I need to be doing everything myself. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the work I do (which drives many of my colleagues crazy because it means I take a while to ensure that the work I’m doing is the self I want to present, and part of the reason I’ve promised to myself that the work I put up on here doesn’t need to be perfect) and that means I get a sense of unease whenever I ask people to do things, no matter how capable they are. I’m slowly learning that I don’t need to do everything, and I’m quickly realizing that handing tasks over means I feel less pressure and can enjoy things more.

Becoming more comfortable in that leadership position I’ve found myself in means that I feel like we’re moving forward more. Over the next few weeks, my group will be running more prototypes and observing how they impact the student body. Anna Kate put together a 5 phase process for when we add on things. We tried a prototype a few weeks ago, but it was taken apart before we were able to see how it was used.

More chairs

The Lightbox


As of today, all of our planned interviews are done, so we will begin in-depth unpacking all of the interviews we’ve done, trying to find patterns and ideas we can bring in. We’ve done a bit of unpacking already, reflecting on main points, and I’ve started to map out unpacking those interviews. We will use different colored stickies for each person:

Unpacking the Interviews

We also have a couple of different places we’re keeping track of timelines and the to-do list. On one board, we have plans mapped out through December, with our final date for implementation planned for the Friday before the week before exams start (this does not mean we won’t or can’t have it done before then, it’s just the latest I want the solution to be produced. I also realize that there may be tweaks in the future as needs change). We also have a “To-Do, Doing, Done” board, and you can see there there is a lot in the works at the moment, much of it being close to done.


to-do, doing, done

We’ve moved a long way from where we were at the beginning of this as the group becomes more invested and we become used to working with each other. And while I may have my moments of worry and doubt, I’m learning to trust more and have more fun with the problem we are tackling. Here’s to growth!


2 thoughts on “The Journey

  1. Emmy,
    I think your reflection about some of the paradoxes of leadership is very powerful. How do we lead while also making room for others to play key roles and to lead themselves, as well? How do we attend to the tasks of a challenge, as well as the maintenance of our team? I so appreciate that you begin this thread in your post – I think the lessons of leadership are profoundly important, and this challenge has really born out for you some of the more advanced lessons of leading a team. I wish that you had carried that thread even to the second half of this post, as I think I could learn a lot from hearing your reflections on the leadership conundrum through the development of the Kanban board and execution of tasks. I’ve seen a change in your team in the last few days, and I wonder what you attribute that to…and if you perceive a difference, as well. Thank you for the guidance you’ve provided, and thank you for the room you’ve made for others to step forward, while you step aside, so that various people can practice taking the reins and building the muscles of leadership and challenge completion.

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