Diversity, equity, and inclusion has been a main focus for us ever since we created a conference experience and produced multiple videos for the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity (part of the American Hospital Association). A big part of what we do is helping people navigate complex conversations – we apply our facilitation skills and design tools to challenges that benefit from empathy and structure. Topics that relate to diversity, equity, and inclusion are an amazing fit for a human-centered design approach, and we have created custom tools (and facilitated conversations) for major health systems and national, non-healthcare organizations (running sessions – with partners – in both English and Spanish). We have also created film and animation outputs for diversity based initiatives.
Outside of our diversity, equity, and inclusion work, we have deep experience helping health systems charter and launch community based partnerships that are aimed at addressing social determinants of health. This work, with partners such as LISC, the Montana Office of Rural Health, and the Association for Community Health Improvement, has focused on issues that impact native populations, veteran populations, and other people in all walks of life.
We have a passion for working with frontline workers, and have run many workshops in addition to creating bespoke design tools for clinicians. Our ‘clinician burnout canvas’, for example, helps people explore burnout risks at the individual, system, and industry levels. It is designed to help teams explore the actions that they need to start, stop, reduce, or increase at every level.
We have designed a custom workshop to help frontline workers understand how they can make improvements and embed positive innovations around the experience responding to COVID-19. We have done this work with nurses and physicians–but, also with facilities, information technology, marketing, and other teams.
We have a growing practice and dedication toward helping frontline providers continue to grow around the core pillars of High Reliability Organizations. With a custom design tool inspired by James Reason’s ‘Swiss Cheese Model’ and a whole series of tools to help assess current state and enact the five pillars, this is an area of particular passion and expertise.
Another area of specialization has been the chartering and forging of Community Based Partnerships. We have a number of experiences that we can share around helping health systems and frontline providers design meaningful partnerships that help address social determinants of health and ‘meet patients where they are’ out in the community.
Finally, we have led many cohorts on innovation design journeys that have run through at least one year.
For two years, until federal funding ran out for the program, we were the design partner for the Illinois Hospital Association’s annual Innovation Challenge. In this work, we helped winning, cross-functional hospital teams design, refine, and share processes and playbooks around clinical innovations.
We were the strategy design partners for Providence Health and Services in Portland, Oregon. We led on-site experiences at least four times a year for three years. We helped shepherd a different cohort of four to six teams, comprised of people from across the system, each year through customer interviews, ideation, business model design, prototyping, and pitching for investment.
We have trained multiple ‘Innovation Champions’ cohorts at a health system around facilitation methods and design thinking. This has been done through a mix of physical workshops, virtual training sessions, and on-demand video content.
The arrival of COVID-19 forced us to grow the virtual facilitation options at our disposal, but virtual engagement has long been a part of the experiences that we design. A workshop, either in-person or virtual, should be considered a key moment in a journey, rather than the ‘be all; end all’. This journey includes pre-event engagement and robust post-event digital interactions to keep people excited and applying what they learn. We have relied heavily on Mural, Miro, and Mibo (they all sound alike!) along with a range of other virtual environments and tools. Our own digital hubs are a big part of the journey as well.
If it is going to be a real-time experience, either in-person or remote, then a workshop environment where people apply what they learn and acquire skills by doing is how we approach things. “Training” is a good fit for the dissemination of knowledge and best practices; it can often be achieved through pre-recorded and on-demand content. In both cases, you want folks to learn things, but one should leverage the best features of the environment.
“Trainings” can be academic in nature and allow people time for deep introspection and the acquisition of knowledge at their own pace (within the constraints of deadlines). Workshops should leverage the dynamism of groups and give people lived experiences that can be applied in their own professional context.
This cannot be done if a ‘chartering’ session isn’t done in the beginning to gain clear articulation of shared goals and vision. Iif we partnered, it would be necessary to align on how we will work together, the roles that key team members will play, and how we can help you achieve this vision. So often, people just ‘start doing things’ without a proper kick-off, but it is extremely hard to communicate and align with clients without this. A common cadence for us is a weekly ‘core team meeting’ to stay aligned on what has happened, what is in progress, and what is yet to be done.
Most of our work has a high degree of customization to it. We work with people to creatively understand and tackle complex challenges – there isn’t a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to that. Flexibility and agility is a requirement for us. We are a pretty creative and experimental team too; we love to try new things and live the iterative approach that we preach.