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Immersing our Future Leaders in Design Methodology

When you bring together critical-thinking emerging leaders, tough challenges, facilitators adept at design methods, and organizational support to challenge orthodoxy; you can make magic happen.

As part of a yearlong in-house leadership development program we call Leadership Edge III, 23 front line staff leaders from all areas of Saint Elizabeth were invited to participate in an intense two-day design workshop. Identified as the next generation of front line leadership for Saint Elizabeth, Leadership Edge participants took part in many growth and development opportunities over the course of their 18 month program, but none as intense as the design sprint. 

This experience was aimed at providing participants with the experience of rapidly developing a new product or service and testing their result. This process demands agile thinking, creativity, teamwork and decision making and are commonly called "design sprints", because the workshops are fast-paced, moving from concept to design in only two days. Based on a methodology popularized by Google Ventures, design sprints have become a go-to tool for people working in behavioural science, innovation, and strategy as a short-cut to what is often a lengthy development process.

This design sprint was not only for the benefit of the Leadership Edge participants. The task they were given was focused on a business need; exploring client needs and solutions related to technology and Saint Elizabeth’s Intelligent Care Platform, with topics ranging from new models and technologies for self-management, to virtual care.


The Groundwork

To prepare for the design sprint, the participants conducted observational research: shadowing clients, family caregivers, and other staff members. From this research the participants developed personas (a short biography about the person) of the people they shadowed. Throughout the workshop, participants reflected on the personas ground their work, ideas and decisions in empathy for the end-user, so that we were always able to connect any new solution back to clients, families, and staff.

The Sprint

We gathered the large group in a room at small tables full of sticky notes, and each group jumped into a topic.  We identified pain points, defined the real problems, and generated new ideas. The next step was prototyping the concepts, followed by testing and revision.

As part of the leadership development experience, groups presented their prototypes to the larger group along with members of Saint Elizabeth’s senior leadership team. 

Indeed, there was magic, some in the form of new, well-grounded, creative ideas; and some in how the future leaders changed their mindsets and processes in working collaboratively with others to solve problems. This new creative and design mindset is important for our future leaders at all levels in health care as more and more we ask them to embrace change and seek out opportunity for creative solutions to meet the needs of our clients and our staff.

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