By: Dr. Laura K Spencer, Executive Director of Innovation and Design
Last year was our first year introducing Design Thinking to students throughout the district. It was amazing to see students tackling problems that ranged from a need for fun at lunch to prototyping ways to stop the local bluffs from eroding. Students at all grade levels rose to the challenge in front of them with fierce determination, compassionate hearts, and open minds.
But as we reflected on the year, we also realized that, although we had done a good job supporting teachers in bringing design thinking experiences to students, we needed to place more emphasis as to WHY design thinking is important for future changemakers. We spent a lot of time on the HOW and the WHAT, and we needed to give people time to connect with the WHY. Our goal this year, therefore, is to collective deepen our understanding of the WHY, and support it through intentional moves that build the mindset of a design thinker.
OpenIDEO outlines seven mindsets inherent in design thinking, which are a great frame for the WHY of our work. These mindsets present opportunities for students to develop agency and cultural/emotional intelligence, as well as hone the skills that matter most to be successful in an unknown future.
Those mindsets are:
Empathy - Empathizing with the people you’re designing for is the best route to truly grasping the context and complexities of their lives. But most importantly, it keeps the people you’re designing for squarely grounded in the center of your work.
Optimism - Optimism is the embrace of possibility, the idea that even if we don’t know the answer, that it’s out there and that we can find it. Believing something is possible may somehow make it so.
Embrace Ambiguity - We always start from a place of not knowing the answer to the problem we’re looking to solve. And though that’s not particularly comfortable, it allows us to open up creatively, to pursue lots of different ideas, and to arrive at unexpected solutions.
Make It - When the goal is to get impactful solutions out into the world you can’t stay in the realm of theory. You have to make your ideas real. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you use, or how beautiful the result is, the goal is always to convey an idea, share it, and learn how to make it better.
Learn from Failure - Failure is an incredibly powerful tool for learning. Designing experiments is at the heart of human-centered design. So is an understanding that not all of them are going to work. When we get it right, it’s because we got it wrong first. If we adopt the right mindset, we’ll inevitably learn something from our failures.
Creative Confidence - Creative confidence is the belief that everyone is creative, and that creativity isn’t the capacity to draw or compose or sculpt, but a way of approaching the world. It’s believing that you can and will come up with creative solutions to big problems and the confidence that all it takes is rolling up your sleeves and diving in.
Iterate, Iterate, Iterate - We iterate because we know that we won’t get it right the first time. Or even the second. Iteration allows us the opportunity to explore, to get it wrong, to follow our hunches, but ultimately arrive at a solution that will be adopted and embraced. We iterate because it allows us to keep learning.
(Look for the confirmation email
within 24-48 hours of subscribing!)