#ECISLeadership 2020 Design Thinking to Maximize Outcomes

I was lucky enough to continue working with the good folks of ECIS, even in the middle of a pandemic. Below you will find my slideshow from my talk. Soon, I hope to include a series of videos to go along with the actual slideshow. Until then, enjoy the highlight and included video resources that I use most often when consulting and facilitating around the globe.

Google Slide Presentation April 24th, 2020 – Jim Ellis (link)

Design Thinking to Maximize Your Outcomes, A Process-Driven Approach

Maximise results and be more efficient as you develop your school’s programme through; the design process, specific skills, and new helpful language. Leave this session with new skills in facilitation and program development through the eyes of a designer, repurposed for international schools today.

Learning Outcomes

  • Examples from real international schools and their efforts to develop their programs using Design Thinking.
  • A designer’s perspective to school improvement through a thorough understanding of the design process.
  • New language for Design Thinking that can be applied in your daily work and faculty.
  • Quality facilitation skills and program development built around the design method that is meant to maximise resources.

Part 1 – Grow Your Management Toolkit

1.  Developing a Common Language among your faculty 

  • Use exercises that are nominal but that develop the language your team can speak together prior to tackling.
  • Draw Toast is a wonderful example of an activity to go through to develop that language, it’s funny and light while building excellent behavior.  

2.  Generating a Common Understandings – Mapping

  • Sticky Notes are useless unless you give shape and meaning to your collection. 
  • To a collection of stickies look to: prune, shape, connect, arrange, rank, build collections and map out the collective thinking of our team.

3.  Creating Demand for Changes You Seek

  • Collect your data, build a meaningful representation
  • Designers dabble and support each other! Get involved in their work. There, you will build the capacity to work together beyond relationships. 

4. Developing a Plan of Action 

  • Already having worked through your design process, developed your common design language and made your self-study map you are now ready to develop your plan of action. 

5. Managing Your Program in Action

  • The design process doesn’t end at the conclusion of planning. Now we must manage the program in action. 
  • The more you invested in the design process, the easier it is to manage problems as they come up. 

Part 2 – The Design Process

Step 1 – Define the Problem

  • Verification vs. Validation. You can validate that you asked the questions posed correctly, but more attention needs to be placed on verifying that you asked the right questions for your program development. 
  • Meaningful Requirements when defining the problem is critical to final product success. 

Step 2 – Collect Information 

  • Mapping using Nodes and Links. A node is a single idea note, like a note card or a sticky note. Links are the structures you provide your mapping visually. This becomes your system’s model. 

Step 3 – Brainstorm, Ideate & Analyze ideas

  • Capture Everything (no judgement)
  • Encourage Participation (lean on open ended questions using your design language)
  • Ask only clarifying questions (dialogue is helpful when not judging)

Step 4 – Develop Solutions 

  • Carry Multiple Concepts into Prototyping: The Rational Choice / The Meaningful Choice / The Wild Choice
  • When allowed to pick only one solution from the brainstorming phase, groups will generally choose the safe choice. Multiple choices selected gives groups the freedom to reach further, to be bold, to go places they might not ever get to. 

Step 5 – Feedback

  • Open Loop – Has no set time/place to collect feedback without parameters
  • Closed Loop – is a predetermination of what to collect and when to collect that information. 

Step 6 – Improve Your Design 

  • Iterate, Iterate, Iterate!
  • Preserve time & resources for your faculty to be able to enhance the work they are doing. Without that maintenance and improvement build in, you can expect even the best programs to shrivel away and die. 

Part 3 – Your Design Language Toolkit

1.  Curb Cuts – Accomodations meant for a few folks are often useful to many others that you wouldn’t have suspected when designing. Looking for your Curb Cuts to maximize impact may be as simple as looking and listening to the impact a change has on your faculty, students and greater community. 

2. Hostile Design – These are design solutions that are meant to deter behaviors that are undesirable, and they don’t encourage the right kind of behaviors we are looking for.  I often refer to them as spikes. 

3. User Experience (UX Design) – This is a deep consideration while you design a new 

4. The Cobra Effect

5. Universal Design as a Definition: To design a singular solution that serves well for as many users as is possible. Imagine a perfect curb cut or the must usable carrot peeler.


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