How Might We Weather the Storm Season?

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A Team-based Introductory Design Workshop

Last Friday, about 18 participants came from Tulane and local community to join our final “Design Thinking and Donuts” of the year for a Team Challenge to Plan for Hurricane Season. Participants came from local health services agencies, research institutes, local businesses, non-profit organizations, our university, and more. As educators, designers, analysts, scientists, students, they joined our talented and enthusiastic design thinking coaches in Taylor’s DT space in 200 Flower Hall. Together, we absorbed a wall of crowd-sourced stories and data, synthesized masses of information, sorted out themes.

We practiced methods that we can all use to structure time together to generate ideas at lower cost (in time, money, and people) and test them out with our prospective beneficiaries or end-users. We synthesized information into a few themes and user-profiles, redefined the big problems into smaller “How might we …?” statements, brainstormed, bodystormed, and tested.

As small teams, participants generated distinctive, relevant, feasible, inspiring and imaginative ways to aid our New Orleans community. During the workshop, participants created different user centered solutions to address challenges surrounding hurricane season.

User-centered concepts included:

1. The “Life Chex” brand: a set of educational hurricane evacuation games that kids aged about 8-12 and grandparents can do together.

2. Hurricane Season Concierge: an evacuation assistant and planning service to address the pre-evacuation stress. They come to you before hurricane season and sorts out all the evacuation details for you, offering a tailored system of coaching, plans, and reminders.

3. The Tulane Ark: a live-in, sea-going campus that offers a seamless “no-evacuation” experience for the freshman (who need to live on-campus) – for Tulane circa 2050…

4. The “Drew Brees Pen-pal Network for Community Engagement” offering Tulane students with better way to reconnect and help out the city post-hurricane. Students pair with community members, building organic relationships that fuel student involvement in the community post-hurricanes.

Participants in this introductory workshop were mostly brand-new to design-thinking process. After an active two hours, they left with a sense of themselves as designers, and an appreciation for the design cycle building on empathy and a user point of view. We focused on how to find specific, small leverage points to shift a systemic problem. We’d love to support taking these ideas into the world via testing and iterations of prototyping.

We welcome them back to our new space in Howard Tilton Library for future workshops, seminars and presentations on design for social impact.

By Laura Murphy  Taylor Associate Director, Design Thinking for Social Impact