A 10 days/2-week immersion/hands-on workshop for new immigrant professional women from different backgrounds and cultures. Participants learn to become job-ready ‘innovative thinkers’ through Design Thinking & Service Design, where they will discover how to innovate meaningful solution ideas for local companies.
Participants formed teams and partnered with a local local company who supplied the innovation team with their challenges, and one general problem statement. Participants learned hands-on how to use a design process to frame the challenge and work through the process to provide validated solutions.
Then jump into a live learn-as-you-do service design sprint:
After reviewing my previous workshop content and notes I had made, it was clear that a new version was required. So I reiterated it. Since it was important for the participants to learn “innovative thinking” while being prepared for working in a new country, it meant it would be equally important to help prepare them professionally holistically, as the average workplace in the Lower Mainland tends to be multicultural and unique, something that is new to these newcomers. Therefore building experiences in the workshop which allow them opportunities to see first hand what it could be like would be valuable. So I integrated content on collaborative leadership, empathy vs. sympathy, cognitive empathy, assertiveness, and mindfulness into the curriculum. Due to these additions, it resulted in empowering them with skills and mindsets that left them feeling more confident in their personal and professional abilities.
In addition to facilitating their learning of the art of Service Design, I also stepped into each team to cultivate collaborative leadership, to show them how to work as a team, work past the uncomfortable, how to support one another to move towards delivering validated service solutions for their respective clients.
An open design or collaborative leadership work style with teams and clients was encouraged. For this program, additional materials were provided to the clients so that they could have more knowledge and involvement in the process, to make the outcomes more impactful, meaningful and useful.
Throughout the course, I would observe as a coach to assess and guide them to discover areas they could iterate to improve their outcomes, as well as add in an impromptu team or whole group activities when needed to support their emotional and physical well being, as the stresses of being a new immigrant and having a family to care for can be tough.
We celebrated when it was confirmed that all 3 cohorts totaling 45 women who received certificates for completing the 2-week workshop successfully had been gainfully employed. I receive voluntary updates from participants giving thanks, request my acting as a reference, and to let me know of their new jobs. The results have been amazing! All 45 ladies have successfully found jobs they wanted within 1 to 6 months! Some then went on to do further schooling to help further their careers or even change their careers within the year of completing the program.
I learned that there was a lot more support needed by teams on teamwork, outside of learning how to think innovatively, supporting them to work through personal and team challenges. Working with all women and from very different cultures definitely can add some unique challenges. Live improvisation coaching on personal development topics and activities were needed.
Some coaching items I ended up integrating on the go were:
By the 3rd cohort, I had also developed numerous communication and content to better inform and educate the clients on the process of the program related to them, as I had discovered there were some gaps in the information supplied by the program staff to the client. By being somewhat left in the dark produced less engaged and enthused clients. I facilitated more in-depth and educational communications prior to every phase of the project through newsletter type emails as well as videos. It resulted in higher engagement by creating a deeper context and transparency of the process in which their innovation team had gone through to achieve the results. This resulted in more ownership as a whole.
Clients were delighted by the depth of insight and validation through the observations, insights, and solutions presented. Firstly, they commented on how they felt a renewed sense of inspiration. Secondly, they felt engaged by how much was discovered by the teams in such a short period of time. Thirdly, they felt engaged by having been walked through the process, which had allowed them to look at their challenges differently. In conclusion, clients felt excited and motivated to take what had been provided to further develop with their own staff.
Overall, participants felt empowered by their 2-week experience:
As for myself, I had gained more experience in trusting my gut in addressing the holistic needs of participants and their clients (the companies). The biggest learning for me was that the coaching I had provided made the participants’ experiences even more meaningful and impactful. Every hour, day, week, and each cohort brought on different challenges to address. It provided the opportunity for me to be challenged to be more adaptable and resourceful on the spot. From shifting any negative mindsets to boosting individual, team, or group confidence, addressing fatigue to coaching team work, jump in as their team lead at times, and wrangling client expectations to coaching healthy mental and emotional wellbeing habits.
[link to page of written testimonials]
Mosaic BC: Senior Mgr Employment Programs, IWERC Program Coordinator, Program Assistants, Job Placement Specialist
Local Organizations: City of Vancouver Engineering Departments (3x), Telus – Marketing & Innovations, Gate Gourmet, Mosaic BC – Funding and Marketing, Latincouver (2x), and Norteway Consulting.
To see a sample of one team’s outcomes, please check out their Summary Report, where they show their process to help engage the client and provide a sense of ownership to the clients in owning the insights gathered and how the insights were used to arrive at the solution ideas they prototyped and validated in the first round of testing, making the recommendation for the client to adopt the work and prototypes to test and iterate, along with a roadmap of what they can do.