Thursday, January 25, 2018

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: Trimming the Fat

When I walked into Google Headquarters in Sydney for the Google Certified Innovator Academy, I entered with a project that was practically up and running. So I thought. The digital part of my project had been up for about six months and continues to evolve. The physical part was established, but has evolved dramatically since. 

As I reflect back on the experience, the Design Thinking process as well as the feedback from my cohort mates have been the best thing for my project. Multiple people told me they loved my project, but they felt it was too much. Their concerns were about management. One person likened it to juggling a dozen flaming chainsaws. At first, my ego was bruised. My project has many layers. I often refer to it as an onion on steroids. Their feedback wasn't meant to bruise my ego, but it made me realize the sheer vastness of the project would not be feasible. 

The competitor in me believed I could pull it off. I mean, it should be no problem supporting two schools, curating galleries of Memes, Sketchnotes & Booksnaps as well as facilitating a student tech/social media squad. There should be plenty of hours in the day, right? Let's not mention the fact I have three young daughters at home. 

The Design Thinking process taught me to break my project down into small bits. This was hugely eye opening. I made me realize the feedback was on point. It was time to check my ego at the door and begin to trim the fat. 

After the rush of the Cohort wore off, reality set in. As I got back to work, it became abundantly clear I needed to trim the fat quickly. I reflected deeply and determined parts of the project such as the Fundraising page, the dangerous movable stage, the various genre pages in the YouTuber Crew & Blogger Cafe were all surplus to requirements. They were all cool ideas, but more style than substance. 

As the semester wore on, I dismantled half of the Teacher Portal. An entire page dedicated simply to advertising my services was deleted. The Teacher Portal now is one page with a schedule, lesson design templates and a booking system.

The Booksnaps Gallery was definitely the most problematic. This required an ungodly amount of management. If I was creating it just for the students in my classroom, it would be no problem, but since I support two school sites, it was a nightmare. Originally, I used a Google Form for students to submit their Booksnaps, but as time wore on, I realized I was getting hundreds of submissions a day. My initial idea was to train the student tech squad to handle it, but that was another headache. Upon reflection, the teachers with whom I trained to implement the use of Booksnaps would curate for me and send me 5-7 exemplars to be displayed in the gallery. I applied the same wisdom to the Sketchnotes gallery and will do the same when the Memes gallery gets underway. 

Long story short, checking my ego and the door was the best diet plan for the Cardinal Innovation Center. The digital version is streamlined and more user friendly. Some innovative, industrial shelving created a safer physical environment. Students and teachers alike are taking more advantage of the Center and services provided. Business is picking up and it is my hope to have this Innovation Project officially up and running by June. Until then, follow the progress at