Learning out loud: Designing for Organizational Effectiveness

Throughout Authoring Your Professional Self we ask students to write to learn out loud, to reflect on what they are learning, and to continually develop their thinking into more finished work products.

This page is a resource to support those goals for students pursuing the Designing for Organizational Effectiveness Certificate (DOEC).

Goals for each academic quarter

Fall quarter

Your overall goals. First, get your site up and running by completing modules 1-3 of Authoring Your Professional Self. Remember that you can continuously modify your site as you gain more experience in developing your voice. Use Fall quarter to get your momentum going.

We outline prompts below to help you craft blog posts. Your overall goal should be to produce 8-10 posts. These should be a mix of 100-word insight micro posts and longer, more thoughtful posts. At least one of the longer posts must cover DOEC design practices.

What’s an appropriate mix of posts?

Let your comfort level in writing be your guide. If you are new to this you may want to concentrate on building your writing habit and write eight or nine 100-word posts plus the one required longer post covering DOEC design practices. If you are more comfortable writing – or just get inspired – change the mix so that you have fewer micro-posts and more posts which dive deeper into various topics.

Keep the long-term digital learning portfolio purpose in mind. Micro posts are good for learning out loud and recording interesting insights. But if your entire digital learning portfolio contained only micro posts, it would just be a notebook. Use the micro posts to help you spark ideas and topics to address in more reflective posts. Over time, you should write more reflectively more often.

MSLOC 430 Creating and Sharing Knowledge. Use the content and lessons from this course to explore insights that emerge from framing your design case challenge as an organizational learning and knowledge sharing problem, or considering enterprise social technology as the environment for designing solutions. Do this by:

  • Writing eight or more 100-word insight micro posts exploring concepts and ideas.
  • Writing one or more “what if?” posts exploring in more detail about how some of these concepts or ideas inspire your thinking about framing your design case challenge differently, or considering potential solutions based on course material.
  • Note: If you have taken MSLOC 430 previously, you may use Fall quarter to write about topics related to other courses you are taking. But do take time to reflect on lessons from MSLOC 430 and write one or more posts about those topics.

DOEC design practices. Use Fall quarter to sharpen your understanding of what we mean by outcomes, opportunities, and solutions. Do this by writing at least one post thoughtful post. Additional posts can cover other design practices or ideas, if you wish to go future (i.e., empathy, staying in the problem space, etc.). Consider the following questions as inspiration:

  • In your own words, how do you distinguish between outcomes, opportunities and solutions?
  • Why is “collecting stories” from stakeholders key to discovering opportunities? How is it different from asking stakeholders for their opinions?

Beyond the basics. Two strategies will help you gain more from your digital learning portfolio: engaging the community and challenging yourself to address issues for which you do not yet have a fully developed point of view. Start putting these strategies into play:

  • Comment on a peer’s posts.
  • Incorporate insights you gained from reading others’ work into your own thinking. Give them credit by linking to their post.
  • Start writing reflection posts on your experience in some of the subtleties of design methods. What does it really take to develop empathy? How do you stay in the problem space, when everyone around you wants to jump into solutions?

Winter quarter

Your overall goals. If you follow the prompts below as a script, you will write eight micro posts and one longer post on DOEC design practices. Your goal this quarter is to not follow this as a script. Own the process of learning out loud.

Work out your own best strategy for combining different types of posts to learn and to develop your thinking. Micro posts are good for recording half-baked thoughts. But you also need to make sense of more complex issues. That takes more than 100 words.

What’s an appropriate mix of posts for Winter quarter?

You should still aim to produce 8-10 posts at minimum. But also start to self-evaluate your own mix. If you write 10 posts, what percentage are posts where you are making sense of more complex topics vs. just noting half-baked ideas? Is that percentage more than Fall quarter? What percentage mix makes you feel as if you are really engaged in protracted inquiry of complex topics?

MSLOC 435: Designing Organizations. Use the content and lessons from this course to explore insights that emerge from framing your design case challenge as an alignment problem between organizational strategy, structure and talent management. Or consider organization structure as the environment for initiating solution designs. Do this by:

  • Writing eight or more 100-word insight micro posts exploring concepts and ideas.
  • Writing one or more “what if?” posts exploring in more detail about how some of these concepts or ideas inspire your thinking about framing your design case challenge differently, or considering potential solutions based on course material.
  • Note: If you have taken MSLOC 435 previously, you may use Fall quarter to write about topics related to other courses you are taking. But do take time to reflect on lessons from MSLOC 435 and write one or more posts about those topics.

DOEC design practices. Use Winter quarter to sharpen your understanding of DOEC methods such as the Opportunity Solution Tree, conducting interviews, and drawing and using visuals (maps). Don’t share the actual design case work that emerges from your collaborating organizations; keep that work private. But do step back and write about the experience of putting DOEC methods into practice. In part this means explaining what these methods are, in your own words. But also reflect and write about how these methods the subtleties of learning to put design practices into action – developing empathy, staying in the problem space, using theory as inspiration, and using visuals to gain clarity.

Do this by writing at least one reflection post. Try for a series of posts, covering one or more of the following topics:

  • Share your experiences in drawing experience or journey maps, creating a draft Opportunity Solution Tree, or other visual. What helped you make progress in converting your thoughts into visual form? What benefits does it provide to your own discovery process?
  • What have you learned about:
    • Developing empathy (think about “collecting stories”)
    • Staying in the problem space
    • Using theory as inspiration (for reframing the problem and/or for solution inspirations)
    • Drawing/mapping your way to clarity about your problem space and the opportunities in it

Beyond the basics. Continue working on the two strategies that will help you gain more from your digital learning portfolio: engaging the community and challenging yourself to address issues for which you do not yet have a fully developed point of view.

  • By the end of Winter quarter, assess your network of contributions and connections. How is your network of contributions evolving – comments on peer’s posts, links to your peer’s work, collaboration on exploring ideas, etc.? If you mapped out these links, what would it say about your role as a member of the DOEC community? Who is an active member of your personal learning network?
  • Continue to write reflection posts on your experience in the subtleties of applying design methods – but also consider building off of your previous posts. Where are you gaining additional insight and (perhaps) clarity? Where are things getting even more confusing, as you dig deeper?

Spring quarter

Your overall goals. Continue to own the process of learning out loud. In this quarter, you should start to write more about lessons learned from applying DOEC design practices (see the prompts, below).

What’s an appropriate mix of posts for Spring quarter?

Continue to self-evaluate your own mix. Make sure you are creating a good foundation of 100-word posts, complemented by posts where you are making sense of more complex topics.

MSLOC 455: Evaluating Culture, Connectivity and Engagement. Use the content and lessons from this course to explore insights that emerge from framing your design case challenge as an organizational culture, employee engagement or organizational social network issue. 455 also emphasizes using data to understand culture, engagement of social network issues, and then using that evidence to develop hypotheses that may lead to problem solving. Think about the data-evidence-hypothesis process as an additional toolkit for “discovery.”  For your digital learning portfolio:

  • Write eight or more 100-word insight micro posts exploring concepts and ideas.
  • Write one or more “what if?” posts exploring in more detail about how some of these concepts or ideas inspire your thinking about framing your design case challenge differently, or considering potential solutions based on course material.
  • Note: If you have taken MSLOC 455 previously, you may use Fall quarter to write about topics related to other courses you are taking. But do take time to reflect on lessons from MSLOC 455 and write one or more posts about those topics.

DOEC design practices. By Spring quarter, you will have a lot of material from your design case discovery research efforts. You will have some draft maps and Opportunity Solution Trees and will begin working on assessing and prioritizing opportunities. It will be messy. But you will also have some aha moments and insights that emerge from applying DOEC design methods. Examine those wins; what did you learn about design methods and practices that you may want to articulate, as key to your own approach?

Use Spring quarter to start making explicit the themes, insights and lessons learned that you see as contributing to your personal approach to applying design methods to organizational challenges. Don’t share the actual design case work that emerges from your collaborating organizations; keep that work private. Do write about the subtleties of learning to put design practices into action – developing empathy, staying in the problem space, using theory as inspiration, and using visuals to gain clarity.

Do this by writing at least one reflection post; try for a series of posts, covering one or more of the following topics:

  • Share your experiences in drawing experience or journey maps, creating a draft Opportunity Solution Tree, or other visual. What helped you make progress in converting your thoughts into visual form? What benefits does it provide to your own discovery process?
  • What have you learned about:
    • Developing empathy
    • Staying in the problem space
    • Using theory as inspiration (for reframing the problem and/or for solution inspirations)
    • Drawing/mapping your way to clarity about your problem space and the opportunities in it

Beyond the basics. Continue working on the two strategies that will help you gain more from your digital learning portfolio: engaging the community and challenging yourself to address issues for which you do not yet have a fully developed point of view. By the end of Spring quarter:

  • Engage other members of the DOEC cohort in an explicit, digital learning portfolio “conversation” about a challenging DOEC related topic. The conversation can take a number of forms: Cross posting or commenting on peer portfolio sites, doing peer reviews of content among members of the cohort, “group blogging” about a common question or topic. Use your imagination.

Summer quarter

In Summer quarter the DOEC cohort convenes in the final course of the sequence: MSLOC 456: Designing Solutions for Organizational Effectiveness. You will be working on designing potential solutions to specific opportunities from your design case.

For your digital learning portfolio, MSLOC 456 requires a final assignment designed to pull together your thinking about your approach to the more difficult challenges of applying design methods and practices to organizational challenges.

The assignment is to first write draft posts articulating your professional point-of-view on the following:

  • Staying in the problem space
  • Using theory as inspiration (for reframing the problem and/or for solution inspirations)
  • Developing empathy for users
  • Drawing/mapping your way to clarity
  • Surfacing assumptions underlying solution options
  • Creating solutions that incorporate the unique context of the organization

After writing the draft posts you then create one page on your digital learning portfolio – “My Approach” – which articulates your point-of-view on these topics, based on your experiences throughout DOEC. The drafting process provides time to incorporate insights and thinking from other members of the DOEC cohort.

The first four topics are most relevant to your experience during the first three academic quarters of DOEC. The final two – surfacing assumptions underlying solution options and creating solutions that incorporate the unique context of the organization – will be addressed more deeply during MSLOC 456.

For each of these topics, consider the following prompts:

  • Why you see this as critical to the design process. What ultimate value does it provide?
  • What makes it a difficult challenge (for most other practitioners)? What concepts or insights do you see as potentially valuable to your approach? How does your approach address the difficulty of the challenge?