Girls' Day 2015: Jenna's Top 5 Takeaways

Back in mid-February, I bounced with excitement when we were first invited to work with over 100 girls at Boys & Girls’ Club Girls’ Day in April. Then, as the date approached, I started getting a little nervous as we realized what that meant… Our team was accustomed to running two-hour workshops with 15-30 students between the four of us. This time, we would have just 90 minutes, and each of us would be facilitating our own room of about 45 people. My “Ahhh!” of happiness began to take a slightly more anxious tone.

So the GDD team turned to a few trusty design strategies to get prepared:


1. Prototype, test, learn, repeat.

We had so many ideas for how to adjust the program to make it work, but we had no idea how they would perform “in the wild” until we tried. After planning our first iteration, we looked to get as close to the final context as possible for testing. So, we ran a small 1.5 hour workshop at the Boys & Girls Club with some 9th graders. We knew what questions we wanted to answer, designed the prototypes as experiments, and paid attention to the answers we observed. Although great challenge solutions and mission statements emerged from the trial workshop, we noticed some huge opportunities for change. We also listened to the extremely helpful feedback from Renee, the Girls’ Day coordinator, and incorporated it into a second test, this time with a Citizen Schools program in San Jose. Even after this trial, we saw the need to go back to the drawing board and rethink several elements before the big day.


2. Simplify for quality.

Between the design challenge and the mission statement-writing, our original 2-hour workshop had a lot going on, and even those hours were a squeeze. In order to do justice to any part of the workshop in our constrained time frame, we had to focus in on what was really impactful, cutting everything else. Our final product focused only on applying design thinking to the mission statement construction process, rather than to a separate challenge. The most special parts of the design challenge workshop lived on, but with a much tighter focus.


3. Be open to big changes.

This is a hard one, and one I’m most proud of the team for embracing. Over the last 6 months, we had put many hours and ideas into imagining, implementing, and honing our original workshop-- now, we were faced with disassembling it to build something new. At first, we tried to fit the old workshop to new circumstances by making as few and as small changes as possible. The results might have been good enough, but we soon saw that only big changes would lead to something great.


4. Get organized.

Precision is not my strong point, but in this challenge, it was essential. With Rachel leading the organization charge, we scheduled out each minute, counted each Post-it, and sorted every material into brightly color-coded envelopes. By show time, the workshop ran (more or less) like a well-oiled machine, allowing each of us to facilitate our own room of girls.


5. Ask for help.

Even with all of this preparation, we still knew that the help of friends to facilitate the rooms alongside us would change the game. A huge shout out to Ariela Safira and Megan Kurohara for helping out! Thanks also to Renee Infelise for her continued feedback :)