Insights and Solutions Circles Take 1

thank you Colin Newton and Jack Pearpoint for introducing this tool to us at the Toronto Summer Institute on inclusion. We put it to use this week, and so thought we’d share the experience!  I loved the buzz that happened AFTER the session was complete– there was so much being talked about and discussed once we all came together to work out a solution together as a team. It felt really empowering. That was the word of the hour. Empowering. So, thanks!

Step One.  Andrew brought up an ISSUE, we voted on it, then asked him some clarifying questions to help us get to the heart of the matter. Here’s the issue we decided to discuss:

How might we create a schedule during the day at StarfireU that allows anyone to sign up for stuff they are interested in, and not keep people tied to their specific year’s calendar of events?  For example, how can we make it easier for Chad, a Junior, to easily be able to sign up for line dancing, a class scheduled on the Sophomore calendar?

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Step Two. We all went around and talked about a few THEORIES as to why this is currently an issue….

-It’s easier just sticking to my team and my own work.  It’s easier for me to just think about what I need to schedule for one class, and not have to worry about everyone else.

-I have to hurry to fill up a calendar, because if I have an empty calendar, it will look like I’m not doing my job. I don’t have time to collaborate.

-The realities of fitting into the structure of daytime programming, rides, staff and member ratios, blocks the creativity we need to reinvent the way we are already doing things.

-I don’t know what every single member in StarfireU likes, so I don’t know when to alert certain people about events happening on our calendar.

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Step Three. This brought us to the fun part, discussing STRATEGIES  on how we might go about addressing some of the theoretical road blocks getting in our way:

  • Start doing class sign ups a week in advance, in the afternoon, outside of the class structure.  Break out of the current sign-up model that keeps people from knowing what’s on other classes’ calendars.

  • Ideate what it might look like to have  an open source sign up model.  Start small (prototype). Make it visual for everyone, and somewhere visible in the building.

  • Create a design thinking task force that talks about how we might create a calendar that is even more conducive to people’s choice and interest.

  • Ask around– Don’t think it’s impossible or that you aren’t allowed. Ask: “Can I just do this?” and open the gates of permission to start inventing.

 Step Four. Choose one or a few strategies and break down what the IDEAS for next steps could be. Strategy chosen: Create a task force around creating an “Open sourced” calendar:

  • Find out if it feasible by figuring out staff/member ratios, etc.

  • What is the best day to start out? Pick a day.

  • Identify what activities are on the calendar already that are open source, and start to think of ways to schedule those so that anyone can sign up for them

  • Prototype what a big board for the an open-sourced calendar might look like


In just an hour, this process engaged everyone in the room, and got people motivated on some tangible “next steps” that could literally change the way we do things around here during the day.  And this isn’t a new issue that has come up, it’s been brought up a number of times, each time people are left scratching their heads about how to actually get the ball rolling. At lunch just before this process took place, Brandon and I were literally talking about how to make the calendars more accessible and free-flowing for every member regardless of year.  But we ended the conversation without much resolution, and no clear path on how to take the next steps forward.  Now we have solid steps, and leadership to move it forward.

I can’t wait to see the prototypes that come from this, and report back on what Open Sourced scheduling looks like at StarfireU.  Keep ya posted.

katie bachmeyer