Refocusing by Stepping Back


It’s really hard to take a step back, but sometimes that is exactly what you need to do. Today was another coVenture Tuesday, so ID was all about “HMW Roof?”.

The interview team started with unpacking the interviews we had with the 5 people in total that we met with from last week. We discovered some common themes of people enjoying/wanting open flexible space, natural light, and something about Starbuck was intriguing to everyone because it came up in every conversation. The Starbucks thing was when we realized that all of our users were girls. This wasn’t on purpose, but we realized that only talking to girls could skew our insights on the general MVPS community, because the school doesn’t only have girls.

We started brainstorming some “what if” ideas about what would be game changing for these people. Some ideas included having a Starbucks on campus and designing grade level hangout rooms. It was around this point that we realized that there was some great energy in the room with the interview team, but out in the art gallery, the research team didn’t have this same energy. See it’s hard to research when you don’t really know what you’re researching for exactly and we really needed to revisit the purpose of the different teams and just in general what our reasoning was for doing what we’re doing.

We brought everyone together (besides the 3 people on the roof taking measurements on the roof and creating a connection with some students in Delaware) and we tried to figure out what path we wanted to take at the cross road we had come to: focus on specifically designing something for the roof, or design for some other issue we discovered from interviews (the latter is more of a general student designed space idea rather than the first being specific to the roof).

We had to take a step back and consider what made us so excited about this venture in the first place. Where did our inspiration come from? Well, there were two things that really stood out to me:

  1. We noticed that there was roof access and wanted to take advantage of the space we already have that isn’t being used to what we see has the biggest potential.
  2. Wow factor. People expect something from ID; “What will ID actually do?” As a cohort we would like to have something that we can look back to and say, “Hey we helped make that for MVPS.” This isn’t our”problem” so to say, but it is something that has really motivated the cohort to want to get something done.

When we looked back at our inspiration, we decided we do want to focus on using the roof space which means that our process may need to shift some.

We took some time at the end to brainstorm HMW statements, and this was actually the plan for today all along, we just got there a little differently, but plans need to change sometimes. We went for volume first, and we haven’t really narrowed things down yet because of the ultimate work constraint: time.

The people that were on the roof came back down so we had to give them the brief summary of this stuff, and after our brainstorm they shared a little about what they did ethnology wise to add to the list of HMWs.

Now I would love to say, “this is what we discovered, and this is our plan for moving into next week,” but we didn’t get there yet.

One idea that was getting talked about a lot was creating a flashlab for students facilitated by students because it would be a great way to involve student voice, give us facilitation practice and a “we did this” moment, and give us a myriad of prototyped ideas about how to use the roof space. Now the part we didn’t get to is answering all of the questions that then form; “What will the purpose be of the flashlab? How will we make this happen? What needs to happen? How can we divide and conquer tasks that need to be done? What roles will people play? How can we connect other ventures to this? How will we make group decisions?”

These are just some first level questions I’ve had based on just this one idea, so as you can tell we have some decision making to do. It was interesting though because I felt like we had a very productive and yet not so productive day. We didn’t do a great job planning at what everyone needs to be doing or even deciding what we are doing, but we successfully stepped back and looked at why we were doing it and pulled everyone back together so people didn’t feel like there work was useless.  We made decent first steps I guess, but part of me is struggling with the fear that nothing will happen until next Tuesday where we will then have to take the time to just revisit what even happened today.

Sometimes you need to step back, but it can be hard to then move forward again in a new direction.

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