Our design thinking project, focussed on how we communicate across our 16 school Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) has begun… with a scheduled meeting!
“Meetings of peers sitting around a table rarely lead to collaborative actions towards solving a problem.”
Ewan McIntosh – How to come up with great ideas, 2014.
Indeed, not everyone could make it despite the enticing title “Communicake”; because where do we communicate best… over cake! Not that I am making conclusions at this early stage of the design thinking process, of course.
A project team, consisting of at least one representative from each department of the central team, met two weeks ago to begin immersing ourselves in communication. Each team member received a notebook for them to record ideas and bugs related to communication. These observations will be key to the immersion phase as we gather a detailed collection of how communication currently works in our organisation. Not, how we think it works, or how it should work but how it does work day to day.
The tools for the immersion will be:
- Notebooks – Ideas wallet and bugs list
- Communicake board – Pin board by the coffee and cakes in our office
- Interviews – It is vital we speak to as many employees across our MAT as possible
The conversation was productive at beginning to consider the wide scope of communication. Some key questions emerged in-between preferences for face to face over electronic tools for communication. The questions were:
- How many emails are sent across our organisation everyday?
- How do private company central offices work?
- Has every member of the MAT central team visited every school?
- How many schools have a busy staffroom?
- Where is our staffroom (one was created the day after)
- Which schools consider themselves as being “good” at communication?
I have to admit to feeling I had not done a good job of facilitating the beginning of this design thinking process. I am fortunate to have some excellent colleagues who pushed the conversation forward and quickly picked up on the concept of design thinking from my brief description. However, over the week following our project getting started people are highlighting poor or good communication where it may have been overlooked before. For instance, someone has been asked to look at decorating our new office and we ended up discussing whether we should consider communication before deciding what goes on the walls. Hence the person given the task of purchasing decorations is joining us for the next gathering (can’t being myself to call it a meeting). Maybe this design thinking is as effective as I have read?
- Review Ideas and Bugs
- Identify next level of detail required in immersion
- Interview techniques and tools