ReFrame U

How do you tackle your wicked problems? What methods do you use to begin reframing your thoughts? 

This coming weekend I am very fortunate to be working with three talented facilitators to offer an intro to design thinking workshop, pulling from IDEO & Stanford d.School (d=design) methodologies. In the session, we will define both the what and why around the utility of a human centered design (HCD) approach to design better solutions. We'll then tackle a challenge in depth with step one of defining the proposed problem. And, YES, we'll work it all the way through to solutions in the form of tangible products. 

If you're like me, you may have already been to plenty of these events and even consider it old hat by now. If you have this mindset, may I ask you to reThink that assumption and read on?

I've been asked when reframing really starts. From a process perspective, I'd encourage you to exercise your thinking brawn immediately: redefine your problem as a possibility.

It might be worth clarifying my thoughts on reframing: essentially it works to identify what underlying assumptions exist and "break free" from them. Examples include Zappos & Morning Star: each took on new approaches to org structure with first identifying what assumptions drove their current model; they mashed those with what their employees said truly motivated them and built environments to support those needs. Today each runs flat organizations (hello, holacracy!). While not perfect on day one, the results have been colorfully successful with an increasingly engaged, thriving workforce. Win!

In these stories, you'll see that the companies went to their employees - working diligently to continually reframe their perspectives - to acquire the "meaningful" data. By doing so, these organizations effectively built empathy that lead to deeper understanding of the needs of their workforce. These insights drove the design of potential new structures & environments for testing.

Now we take a turn to empathy building, the next step once the challenge is out there.  This is the step you'll take with me on Saturday and we'll learn how to build empathy together... I'll say that despite the plethora of free tools (and kudos to Dave Gray for creating the standard empathy map), I couldn't find one that met all my needs. The result? I had to create my own as you can see...After due diligence not to re-create the wheel thru endless searching, I think I can safely say this is a relatively fresh mashup template for the taking. And if not, never hurts to add it to your sets! Along with mapping out interview results to build empathy, consider personas. Be cautious when building personas: understand their purpose or you'll waste your time. Make them memorable, unique; don't connect with them though too deeply as you'll loose focus. Develop an adequate number based on the challenge scope. Inevitably all these tools help us derive insights to then make our return to reframing. Notice any trends in these initial steps? 

Empathy Map Template

Bottom line is the employment of human centered design is a fantastic way to shake things up at work, and I can vouch for the value of its utility personally too. If you've not utilized this methodology professionally and would like to learn more (or even talk thru how to use the plethora of free tools out there beyond mind), feel free to geek out with me this Saturday or reach out anytime. 


And about a personal rethink with design thinking techniques, sure! Pulling from the same templates, try gaining some empathy for yourself (you as the customer). Learn what associations you have around labels, or unknown truths that may hold you back today. Whatever it may be for you - politics, gender or another flavor of inappropriate dinner table conversation - take a look through the lens of standard practice design thinking. How? Start with a softball life experience or moment as follows:

1) Consider a recent incident that triggered a surprising response or reaction from you. Maybe you received some tough news and ironically you were not sad, you were happy. Perhaps you've hit a life milestone and the weight of your emotions is an unfamiliar kind of heavy. Or it could be as simple as you didn't agree with the results of a personality test from work, or feedback after that performance review. Name it, then...

2) Take a moment to reflect or journal (1-2 pages). Call that the interview of yourself.

3) Then apply the empathy map to what you read about yourself/your thoughts. Explore what drove your thinking, feeling, saying, doing or other items. Dig deep. Ask questions. Pull at your own strings a little. You could also employ a persona template here. Who doesn't enjoy drawing their selfie? Tip: emoji me.

4) Then process it: take time out. Find quiet. Let your thoughts come, and go as they move with your breath. Let each pass in and out with zero judgement. Lengthen breath to the count of 4 in and out (slight pause at the top) a few minutes longer without seeking anything from it. Let it go.

5) Not into step 4? No problem. Talk out your insights with someone that knows you and then perhaps someone that's more an acquaintance. See what comes up in this vulnerable space. Hold no grip on the results, just let your capacity be built and your growth happen.

...Early on I mentioned being asked when reframing really starts...

It starts with YOU.

Gifts & Gratitude.

Do you find yourself working in a reactive state most days? Spiraling in the midst of well-laid plans gone awry? Have you been told to think happy thoughts or take a moment to be grateful for something and it would help to shift from a reactive place to more proactive thinking? If nothing else, it would "help you turn that frown upside down"...

I have. And I doubt I'll finish reading A Thousand Gifts

2017 Gratitude Jar

In chasing this concept of gratitude + proactive pivot, I set an intention to live more gratefully this year. I implemented the use of a gratitude jar (my homemade attempt is pictured to give you an idea). As we're well into 2017 - now celebrating longer days with the onset of spring - I can honestly say my intention of gratitude has been challenged more than once. Yet these trials act as a multiplier of a pursuit to hold myself accountable to live gratefully regardless of the circumstances.

There is power in recognizing the gifts - whatever the size - in your life. How?

The short list is 1) Pause. You have to take time to think and this leads to some sort of time to reflect. This pause, wherever it leads, is priceless for us (particularly if on a mission of deeper meaning or best self!). 2) Appreciation. In seeking something to be grateful for, you are forced to actively appreciate. Appreciative inquiry is magical (and a topic for another day). 3) Reality. We get caught up in the fires of the moment all too easily. We let the flames burn us: scorching the positive, painting harsh perceptions of what is not fully real. Don't get me wrong here: reality is not all rainbows (quite the opposite); yet our tendency is towards fear. Taking a moment to see all of reality - the good and the bad - is healthful recognition, offering us wiser perspective.

So get out of your head.

Actively "count" gratitude with something like a jar or journal. The inventory you build is a lovely visual reminder of all the beauty in your life (it's hard not to soften when you see it). If nothing else, speak aloud your gratitude as frequently as you can. Hear yourself. Heal yourself...and I should add that, for me, I have seen how grateful I truly am for what I used to think derailed me indefinitely.

Try it on with others too! & if you've done this or consider yourself a master of gratitude-living, I'd love hear from you about what trends you observe in the habit of gratitude, and the gifts that keep on giving!

2017 Neuland Kitting @ Casa Chiri

For me, a gift that just keeps on is markers. NEULAND markers to be specific. For all my visual practitioners, this is old hat knowledge. For anyone new to Neuland, get on board. Not only are these markers fabulous, the owners have the largest hearts and most giving souls. If you need proof, join us for a workshop this April at Casa Chirilagua. This workshop is the result of donations made by Neuland during #IFVP2016. As you can see from last Sunday's photo of marker kitting, we are well on our way with preparation. Our intention in this workshop, supplied fully by Neuland donations, is to share the gift of art with the next generation of Casa Chirilagua; we will be teaching the kids about how to use art as a way to express themselves and build confidence in co-creating a mural for Casa's new home.