Team: Refugee Careers
After weeks of countless interviews, our summer culminated in a final presentation of 8 concepts to our mentors. Sounds easy enough, right? After all, we had been working with our mentors all summer, so we were comfortable engaging in discussion with them at this point; moreover, we’d gained plenty of knowledge on our topic to present our ideas with confidence. Little did we know that the last 1.5 weeks of the summer would require so much more from each of us than we’d ever imagined.
IDEATION: The first step in preparing for this presentation was the development of our concepts. We used a number of design thinking tools to create thousands of ideas, all of which took initial shape on single sticky notes. We were told not to shut down any ideas in this phase, no matter how technologically, financially, or logistically impossible they were; this unique opportunity to propose all sorts of ideas encouraged us to think creatively about all aspects of our project. Moreover, this approach forced each of us to generate more ideas than we thought we had in us, and to keep an open mind as we respectfully considered one another’s ideas. Such an environment allowed for our team to comfortably voice our opinions when we narrowed our thousands of ideas down to 8 fleshed out concepts.
PRESENTATION: Upon developing our 8 concepts, our team spent a significant amount of time putting together our presentation, which ended up taking form in over 70 slides. Although our team finished putting together the content of our presentation well before the meeting, we didn’t realize that the process of rehearsing our presentation would be as extensive as it was; that is, we spent hours crafting stories to share along with all of our concepts, drawing from insights we had gathered from the interviews we conducted all summer. Each story helped us communicate the real, human need that led the development of our concepts, which made our ideas come to life. Only at this point of the process did our team really discover the power of empathy-driven storytelling, and reflect on the importance of our long research process.
FEEDBACK: Of our two-hour long presentation meeting, we spent a full hour getting feedback from our 5 mentors, Erin, and Rafe. It was a packed hour, as each person brought unique perspective to the table based on their diverse backgrounds. We quickly learned that some of our thoughts had been shortsighted, which prompted us to critically reflect upon each of our concepts and the needs they were addressing. I feel incredibly grateful to have received such honest, insightful feedback; in fact, I think this part of the process highlights one of the most refreshing aspects of the design thinking process — the opportunity to directly incorporate feedback into our next steps.
At the beginning of the summer, we were told that our summer would feel a lot like a rollercoaster, in which our extended research would feel like the slow, uphill climb to the peak and the ideation and presentation phase would resemble the fast, exhilarating rush down. I can’t think of a better way to describe the end of this summer; that said, I feel like we’re really only just beginning the real meat of the process, and I’m incredibly excited to see how the academic year unfolds!