Design Thinking: Collaboration, Creativity, and a Whole Lot of Post-it Notes

On April 17, 2014, more than 30 people gathered at cove in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC, to participate in the Design for Social Innovation workshop, part of DC+Acumen’s Social Enterprise Week and co-hosted by Hatch International. Participants had the chance to network with one another and the judges before breaking out into smaller groups to collaborate on solving a real-life problem presented by Jared Crooks, founder of a DC-based social enterprise.

NOURI, a maker of delicious snack bars (thanks to Jared for bringing samples for everyone!), also has a mission: For every NOURI bar sold, they will provide a hot meal to feed a hungry child in need. The more bars sold, the more children helped, so the problem posed to the groups was this: How might NOURI design a social media strategy to better engage its community and meet its financial and social goals?

Armed with post-its, markers, and some guidelines from moderator Rebecca Perez, the participants dove into their assignment. The room was soon abuzz with the sound of team members bouncing ideas off of one another, scribbling down thoughts, and fine-tuning their plans. Perez periodically gave updates on the time remaining, and the judges circulated among the tables to check in with participants and see how their ideas were progressing.

When time was up, the pencils went down, and one by one the plans were presented to the judges. There was a wide variety of solutions proposed, from QR codes on the wrappers to engaging the firefighter community in Detroit, a NOURI beneficiary site. One spokesman demonstrated his group’s goal to “raise the bar” (pun intended) by standing on a chair to give his pitch. 

After 20 minutes of deliberation the judges announced a winner. Paying homage to the story Crooks shared of he and his wife’s (and NOURI co-founder) first date, the winning group pointed out that since people often connect through food, NOURI could launch a campaign asking followers to share their stories of how food connects them with others and inspires them to create a better world. The stories would be submitted via Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #NOURILove, and one per week would be named “NOURI's Date of the Week”.

“We feel that the winning solution of a #NOURILove campaign is both immediately applicable and ties well with our existing brand and narrative,” Crooks shared. “The Design Challenge produced some really great ideas that were creative and well thought out. We are so happy to have been a part of this event and can't wait to implement some of these ideas!”

"I loved being put on a team with people I had never met," said participant Pomai Verzon. "We each came from different fields and brought unique experiences with us. The exercise was a great reminder of how valuable diversity is on a team as well as the importance of looking outside your circle to understand new perspectives and collaborate with partners when tackling a challenge!"

The winning idea will be featured on UnSectored in the near future, and additional pictures from the event can be found on our Facebook page.

On behalf of DC+Acumen and Hatch, thank you to all the participants for your enthusiasm and creativity, as well the judges (Trenton Allen, Brianne Dornbush, Ian Fisk, Kristin Weis, and Holly Wise) for their time and expertise. Additional shout-outs to Rebecca Perez for moderating, Matthew Breifer with Traction Professional Services for sponsoring the bar, and cove for donating the space for our event.

We hope to see you at next year’s DC Social Enterprise Week (date TBD 2015)!

P.S. Hatch also co-hosted a happy hour with #SocEntDC as part of Social Enterprise Week. Pictures from that event can be found here. Be sure to check our events page soon for details on our May  happy hour.

This blog post was written by Susan Patterson, Marketing and Branding Specialist for Hatch International.