DoTank: Building Bridges & Breaking Down Barriers Through Design

I’m one of the instructors for the upcoming miLES Do Tank (details below). Our teaching client is the Tenement Museum and the theme is “borders, migration, and immigration.” Applications for students are now open. Thanks in advance for helping to spread the word.


 

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The miLES Do Tank is an action-oriented design thinking course, tied to a challenge to translate learnings into local impact. In collaboration with Foossa, Makeshift, NYU Design for America, and Tenement Museum, the Do Tank cultivates a group of people with varied skillsets to work together on a real-world issue, from collaborative ideation to collaborative creation. This 14-weeks program for young professionals and graduate students is facilitated by experts from Foossa, IDEO, Makeshift, NYU Design for America, miLES and more.

For Spring 2016, the theme of the Do Tank is “Borders, migration, immigration”. Around the world, and right here in NYC, a city shaped by people from every corner of the globe, lines continue to be drawn between “us” and “them,” even when “they” are part of “us”. How can we create an inclusive community that recognizes and appreciates the stories and contributions of our neighbors, regardless of where they come from? How can we encourage inclusive communities? The primary challenge is :

“How might we break down boundaries and foster connection?”

Together with our beneficiary, the Tenement Museum, we invite you to rally your community of Creatives, Strategists, Designers of all stripes (UX, graphic, etc.), Social Innovators, Community Activists, and Immigration Experts to collectively learn the tools and methods needed to prototype and co-create a solution with a local impact.

Only limited spots and need-based scholarship available:

LEARN MORE / APPLY HERE

Please choose “Foossa” in the “referred by” field if you apply.

6 Essential Skills for Design & Social Innovation

Students and job seekers frequently ask me about the skills that they need to succeed at Foossa, the community-centered design and strategy consultancy that I cofounded, or in a related career path. I came up with this list as a starting point for anyone interested in using design as a tool for social innovation.

1. Write Well

Being a strong writer goes a long way. Clear writing signals that you can think clearly and communicate effectively.

Craft compelling stories. Appeal to the heart and to the head. Be persuasive. Be concise. Be memorable. 

2. Prototype 

Prototyping could mean making something out of popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners to coding the minimum viable version of an app. You don’t necessary need high tech prototyping skills, but you do have a bias toward action.

You learn by doing. You learn by making. You prototype to learn. You can think visually and sketch out maps, diagrams, and charts to help inform your thinking. Your sketches could be doodles on Post-Its rather than museum-worthy masterpieces, although strong drawing skills are certainly a plus.

3. Code Switch

You speak the language of business. You speak the language of your clients and of your customers. You speak the language of social innovation. You understand how to define a theory of change.

You know how to reinterpret a creative brief to get down to the essence of what the needs really are.

You can get by in the language of designers and technologists enough to be able to collaborate with them effectively and to manage multi-disciplinary teams. You understand the basics of visual language, from hierarchy to typography. Bonus points if you can code in a programming language.

4. Make Stuff Happen

You know how to manage projects from inspiration to implementation. You break down difficult and complex tasks into manageable steps. You find the courage to put stuff out in the world to see what happens. You iterate until you get it right. Then you iterate some more.

You make community happen. Bring people together and get them involved in collaboration and co-creation. This could mean hosting an event, facilitating  a meeting/workshop, or community-managing an online discussion forum. 

5. Give and Receive Feedback

You know how to conduct a design critique. Help your teammates improve by giving critical insights and new perspectives into their work. You can give and get feedback without making it personal.

You make it about the creative brief and shared goals rather than just your personal opinions and preferences.

You learn how to filter the feedback that you get into “advice to implement” and “advice to take with a grain of salt.”

6. Document, Document, Document

My professors really drove this point home in my masters program. Make sure you document your work, whether it is through blogging, journaling, photos, videos, or a combination of the above. You will need it one day in the future, whether it is for a portfolio or for another project. Pictures, or it didn’t really happen.

This list is a work in progress. What skills would you add? Let me know in the comments.

P.S. If you are considering grad school to help you acquire some of theses skills, check out the MFA Design for Social Innovation program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I teach there. 

How (Not) to Design Meaningful Civic Conversations

My latest post on Medium: How (Not) To Design Meaningful Civic Conversations – Lessons from Starbucks’ ‪#‎RaceTogether‬ campaign controversy; why it’s important to talk to strangers; and strategies for designing dialogue

How (Not) to Design Meaningful Civic Conversations

#DesignThyself comes to Be Social Change

I will be offering my #DesignThyself class again on September 15th. Register on EventBrite.

Join Be Social Change for Design Thyself on Monday, September 15th at 7pm w/ Lee-Sean Huang, Co-founder and Creative Director at Foossa

Are you interested in learning about design principles to affect change in the world? Why not start with yourself? #DesignThyself brings design thinking and design doing to a personal level. Learn how to use design as a tool for changing your own creative habits and behavior.

* Doors open at 6:45, class starts at 7:00 sharp *

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

Learn how to use design principles and methodology to cultivate a new creative habit and to make an intentional and proactive change in your life. We will draw from the fields of interaction design, activism for social/cultural change, as well as cognitive psychology. This class is based on material previously offered at the School of Visual Arts MFA Design for Social Innovation and on Skillshare.com.

WHO THIS CLASS IS FOR

  • People interested in cultivating a new habit or modifying existing behaviors.
  • People interested in applying design (thinking/doing) and cognitive psychology to their own lives.
  • Designers and aspiring changemakers looking to “be the change” the way they want to see the world.