Strategic Plan Update: Prototyping and Testing Solutions at October In-Service Day

St. Margaret’s dedicated the entire October faculty/staff in-service day on Tuesday to implementing the next phase of the Strategic Plan. All faculty and staff members worked within 16 self-selected goal teams to review their ethnographic interview data from meetings with end users including students, parents and employees, then brainstormed and prototyped actionable solutions and tested them on students and other members of the St. Margaret’s community.
 
The faculty and staff workshop on Tuesday was led by Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives Ryan Dahlem and a team of design thinking experts from Lime Design, a Bay Area firm. Lime Design previously visitedSt. Margaret’s in August to introduce faculty and staff to the design thinking process in a kick-off day-long workshop.

In September, faculty and staff met within their teams for the first time, each tasked with a different goal within the Strategic Plan. Over the past several weeks, faculty and staff conducted ethnographic interviews with students to establish deeper understanding and empathy. In addition, academic administrators spent time shadowing students to fully immerse in a typical day at school.

With those interviews completed, faculty and staff gathered Tuesday to review the insights they gained. They created “user need statements” and ideated possible solutions to meet the needs of the end user as it relates to each particular strategic plan goal. More than 50 St. Margaret’s students and parents came to campus on Tuesday afternoon to review and provide immediate feedback to the prototypes that were presented. This early testing step with the end user allows for direct input, reinforces empathy, and is a critical component of the design process. 

“Empathy is at the heart of the design thinking process,” noted Mr. Dahlem, “and that was clearly evident at the beginning of the day as faculty and staff shared input from their ethnographic interviews and at the end of the day when feedback on new ideas was received in person from students, parents and employees.  We are excited about the next step of moving ideas forward to test in the real world and continuing to refine them through ongoing feedback and iteration.”
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An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California