To learn more about what and why we ran a 6-week design sprint for our partner communities, see Part 1 of the blog.
Our internal question mark goes like this: how might we design a process that allows affected communities harness their own experience and knowledge and turn it into scalable solutions towards disaster preparedness?
Our solution: a design sprint!
But wait, the idea didn’t just fall on our laps.
Yes, design sprints are usually done by forward-thinking startups, tech firms, big banks, government, and everything in between.
And after a learning visit to the Jordan Innovation Lab, we went home feeling inspired and ready to bring design thinking to the least suspecting group of people – to our folks at the barangays! Why? Because we believe everybody can innovate.
But how? No field guide, no problem! Thanks to the design thinking masterminds from the On-Off Group, crafting design sprint modules went from ‘’how could we ever do one’’….to “let’s do this!”
Over the course of six-weeks, we’ve seen our TagaTUKLAS blossom into creatively confident innovators. We wanted to zero in on the mindsets that whip up an innovator and less on output. Either way, all teams were able to share a prototype on their showcase day:
Team Lifebelt – made up from the young women farmers of Cagayan and a one male from Brgy. Tatalon came up with a lifebelt, a flotation device made from discarded plastic bottles and upcycled cords and curtains.
Team Share8 – formed by three member from coastal town of Dulag, Leyte and one member from Brgy. Tatalon thought of a scalable and low-cost system of training modules to make disaster preparedness more accessible to risk-prone areas.
Team Zambalon – includes our two sprinters from Masinloc, Zambales and a sprinter from Brgy. Tatalon.They are the team behind Purok Emergency Response Team or simply PERT. It is a voluntary system designed to complement existing barangay efforts on keeping the neighborhoods safe and prepared for disasters. PERT targets puroks or the smallest subdivision of a barangay, to ensure everyone is included and accounted for, especially in times of disasters.
We’ve made it and we cannot recommend it enough to any organisation with a open mind and enough resources to run their own.
Here’s what we could’ve done better so you can run a better sprint that we did.
RECRUITING THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Looking back, we’ve might have focused too much on finding the right person to be our Design Sprint in-charge.What does “right” even mean?
We were looking for a person with enough community experience AND innovation experience. In a word, a unicorn. It was such a tall order it took us weeks to find someone. In the end we offered community design sprint facilitator role to a person with extensive community development experience and showed him the ropes on innovation upon joIning our team.
Hire for the attitude, not the skill might be cliche but there is truth to this. Skills are almost downloadable, buildable and transferrable. Attitude takes a while to modify. Now we know better.
SETTING UP THE CONDITION FOR THE INNOVATIONS TO THRIVE
- The standard three quotes were waived so that our training provider, On-Off Group can co-design this sprint for us. Design Thinking is still a niche service – we couldn’t get up to three quotes.
- We invited community members from our labs from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and we had be in charge of their overall comfort and welfare. We envisioned renting a house and turning the living room into a makeshift classroom. We were so excited on who should be roommates, and we even got to the point where we made house rules – but it didn’t happen. No one wanted to rent out a house close enough to Brgy. Tatalon for just a few weeks.
- In the end, we settled with what we could provide – hotel accommodations.
- We also thought of community homestays but this required way more prep time than we imagined not to mention a safety and safeguarding concern.
- The sprint happened from Mar 1 to Apr 9 with a few days off in between. The timeframe was planned months before and the week-long Christian Holy Week was not taken into account.
- Also, the TagaTUKLAS are given Satudays to explore and interact with the users of their would-be innovative solutions – the residents of Brgy. Tatalon. We could’ve talked to more barangay leaders and people who weren’t out for the weekend to visit families back in the province if we had one time for community visits on a weekday
- More community exposure
- The TagaTUKLAS visit Brgy. Tatalon once a week, save for the TagaTUKLAS from Brgy. Tatalon who actually live there. A few visits is better than one or nothing at all but we wanted to go all in, we could’ve turned up the dial on more community exposure to stay true to the heart of TUKLAS – innovation with, for and by the communities.
THROUGH THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATION, THE SPRINT WAS MADE POSSIBLE
I can imagine if we did this all on our own. Crickets sounds.
We tip our purple-coloured hats to the On-Off group, our fountain of innovation wisdom. Bouncing off ideas with a group who’s done a hundred design thinking engagements was comforting to innovation newbies like us.
We salute the Barangay Captain, Secretary, Administrators and Councillors of Tatalon, Quezon City. Although Plan International, the consortium lead of TUKLAS has a presence in the barangay, it was challenging to explain that we wanted Tatalon to be our sandbox, it they let us since the whole idea was also new to us.
We serve a TUKLAS-patented handshake to our TagaTUKLAS from Zambales, Cagayan and Leyte who trusted us enough to pack their bags and be weeks away from their home and families.
We collaborate with a lot of people because we believe this contributes to innovation.
Throughout the sprint, relationships were formed:
(A) TUKLAS and the TagaTUKLAS from partner communities
This is our way of going back to our roots. To be as close to the community as possible. We formed relationship with the people who make up the community we always talk about. Meeting and interacting with members of the communities we work with for six straight weeks was a considerable time to get a feel of their insights and what is the context of the community they’re living in.
(B) TagaTUKLAS to TagaTUKLAS
Who would’ve thought TagaTUKLAS from Tatalon, Cagayan, Zambales and Leyte would ever cross paths and get to know each other? From teammates and roommates, they’ve become friends. The chemistry was organic that they still maintain a Messenger group chat up to this day.
(C) TagaTUKLAS to Tatalon Community
The TagaTUKLAS of Cagayan come from green and peaceful valley where fresh produce thrive. The TagaTUKLAS of Zambales and Leyte are used so breezy coastal winds of their hometown. Coming to the Tatalon, an urban village in the heart of Metro Manila was a 360 sensory experience, according to the sprinters. “What I see, smell and feel was way different from what I’m used back in my province” is the common sentiment of the TagaTUKLAS. It took sometime getting used to. The TagaTUKLAS believe their Tatalon experience was essential in understanding the people who would use their would-be innovation – the residents of Brgy. Tatalon.
(D) TagaTUKLAS to Their Respective Communities
After the 6-week sprint, the TagaTUKLAS are given 10 days to share with their home communities the innovation ways they’ve learned from us. From students, they’ve become evangelists of innovation.
Here’s what they said from the 10-day Design Thinking Scaling Up to their Barangays:
- Before, the kind of leadership I knew was telling people what to do. I learned how to listen. I can feel my attitude has changed.
- I never knew I could give something back to the community…it was something that cannot be seen or touched but I knew it was something.
- I find it amazing I can convince people to participate and earn their trust without a cash dole out.
What we want to the next time around
DSaaS (Design Sprint as a Service)
The TUKLAS menu of services revolves on three main things:
- Seed funding for community-centered innovations
- Mentorship and non-financial support
- Partnerships to sustain their innovations
We loved our first design sprint that we’re considering to add Design Sprints to our support services we offer as in Innovation Lab.
We’ve done cross-labs where different innovators from different community labs visit each other and exchange ideas. Case in point: The Cordillera youth behind Plot n’ Play, a board game for disaster preparedness had a cross-lab with CSL Innovator of Civil Defense Disaster Preparedness Game.
The TagaTUKLAS suggested a cross-innovators exchange to hear stories from the people who’ve been through the innovation journey before them. Innovation can be an emotionally challenging pursuit and to hear the motivating stories of innovators is comfort and education in one.
If we can only pick just one thing we got from this….
Is that our “what if” turned into “let’s do this again!”
We asked ourselves, “What if we go beyond and support more innovators beyond the TULKAS 40?’ “What if we let the communities pick their own pain points and come up with their own solutions?” “What if we dared to try if everybody can innovate?’
In those six-weeks the TagaTUKLAS, rose to be more empathic, inquisitive (mapanuklas), and even more confident than the first time we met.
From shy and timid, our TagaTUKLAS stood up from their cushioned seats and faced everyone in the room to tell us about their innovative solutions for the community of Tatalon. For most of TagaTUKLAS, they never thought they could face the music and speak to an audience. They believe they’ve grown more confident after the experience.
Innovation buzzwords such as prototype, validation board, user journey maps, crazy 8, pain points are commonly heard around the room that if you close your eyes, you would’ve thought we were at an up and coming startup!
They made lo-fi protypes, they’ve consumed blocks and blocks of Post-its and whiteboard markers. They pitched to their Brgy. Captains and trained their own community. We’re not aiming for perfection here. All we wanted to do is to democratize innovation. And waive the flag of innovation with, for and by the communities. We believe everyone can do design thinking. And so we ran one.