Mosaic BC’s IWERC Program | 2018-2019

A 10 days/2-week immersion/hands-on workshop for new immigrant professional women from different backgrounds and cultures. Participants learn to become job-ready ‘innovative thinkers’ through Design Thinking & Service Design, where they will discover how to innovate meaningful solution ideas for local companies.

Design & Facilitate 10 Day Design Thinking Workshop

Understand the scope of what I will need to cover and manage:

  • Key goals – job readiness (soft skills), innovative thinking, teamwork, and exposure to Canadian work culture.
  • Cohort Size can range from 12-18 participants
  • Age Range: 25 – 40
  • 3 cohorts/intakes
  • 3 to 4 company pairings per cohort planned
  • 9 to 11 different ethnic cultures/English as a Second Language
  • Professions: IT Engineers, HR, Web Designer, and everything in between
  • Length of time in Canada: 2 weeks to 2+ years
  • Unsuccessful with finding work they seek to have
  • Emotional States: frustrated, low confidence, indignant, lonely, and stressed

The Workshop Content

Participants formed teams and partnered with a local local company who supplied the innovation team with their challenges, and one general problem statement. Participants learned hands-on how to use a design process to frame the challenge and work through the process to provide validated solutions.

  • Day 1 Start off with 101 of design thinking (empathy/human centered design) and service design (business and service alignment)

Then jump into a live learn-as-you-do service design sprint:

  • Day 2 & 3 Discovery to understand (In person & Onsite client/user interviews/shadowing/immersion)
  • Day 4 – Defining insights for further validation with clients/users, re-discovery.
  • Day 5 – 8 ideation, prototyping, validation & iteration,
  • Day 8 & 9 – finalize MVPrototypes and prepare to show findings and proposed solutions to clients.
  • Day 10 – Engage clients and show them insights and solutions recommended and provide context.

Providing An Holistic Experience

After reviewing my previous workshop content and notes I had made, it was clear that a new version was required. So I reiterated it. Since it was important for the participants to learn “innovative thinking” while being prepared for working in a new country, it meant it would be equally important to help prepare them professionally holistically, as the average workplace in the Lower Mainland tends to be multicultural and unique, something that is new to these newcomers. Therefore building experiences in the workshop which allow them opportunities to see first hand what it could be like would be valuable. So I integrated content on collaborative leadership, empathy vs. sympathy, cognitive empathy, assertiveness, and mindfulness into the curriculum. Due to these additions, it resulted in empowering them with skills and mindsets that left them feeling more confident in their personal and professional abilities.

In addition to facilitating their learning of the art of Service Design, I also stepped into each team to cultivate collaborative leadership, to show them how to work as a team, work past the uncomfortable, how to support one another to move towards delivering validated service solutions for their respective clients. 

An open design or collaborative leadership work style with teams and clients was encouraged. For this program, additional materials were provided to the clients so that they could have more knowledge and involvement in the process, to make the outcomes more impactful, meaningful and useful.

Throughout the course, I would observe as a coach to assess and guide them to discover areas they could iterate to improve their outcomes, as well as add in an impromptu team or whole group activities when needed to support their emotional and physical well being, as the stresses of being a new immigrant and having a family to care for can be tough.

video courtesy of Mosaic BC

What Worked & Didn’t Work…

We celebrated when it was confirmed that all 3 cohorts totaling 45 women who received certificates for completing the 2-week workshop successfully had been gainfully employed. I receive voluntary updates from participants giving thanks, request my acting as a reference, and to let me know of their new jobs. The results have been amazing! All 45 ladies have successfully found jobs they wanted within 1 to 6 months! Some then went on to do further schooling to help further their careers or even change their careers within the year of completing the program.

I learned that there was a lot more support needed by teams on teamwork, outside of learning how to think innovatively, supporting them to work through personal and team challenges. Working with all women and from very different cultures definitely can add some unique challenges. Live improvisation coaching on personal development topics and activities were needed.

Some coaching items I ended up integrating on the go were:

  • courage vs. fears and voicing it
  • impulse reaction vs. reflective response
  • discernment vs. judgment
  • assertiveness vs. aggressiveness
  • courage and vulnerability
  • mindfulness and self-care

By the 3rd cohort, I had also developed numerous communication and content to better inform and educate the clients on the process of the program related to them, as I had discovered there were some gaps in the information supplied by the program staff to the client. By being somewhat left in the dark produced less engaged and enthused clients. I facilitated more in-depth and educational communications prior to every phase of the project through newsletter type emails as well as videos. It resulted in higher engagement by creating a deeper context and transparency of the process in which their innovation team had gone through to achieve the results. This resulted in more ownership as a whole.

Highlights… Inspired and Empowered!

Clients were delighted by the depth of insight and validation through the observations, insights, and solutions presented. Firstly, they commented on how they felt a renewed sense of inspiration. Secondly, they felt engaged by how much was discovered by the teams in such a short period of time. Thirdly, they felt engaged by having been walked through the process, which had allowed them to look at their challenges differently. In conclusion, clients felt excited and motivated to take what had been provided to further develop with their own staff.

Overall, participants felt empowered by their 2-week experience:

  • experience how to lead collaboratively
  • receive team and one-on-one mentoring and coaching
  • immersive learn-by-doing which deeply embeds their learnings
  • cultivated their design-thinking mindset
  • experienced the Canadian Workplace and meet with local companies
  • worked as consultants empowered with design thinking and service design framework
  • innovated and provided tangible solutions that were valued by their clients
  • gained overall confidence and deeper self-awareness through mindfulness activities

As for myself, I had gained more experience in trusting my gut in addressing the holistic needs of participants and their clients (the companies). The biggest learning for me was that the coaching I had provided made the participants’ experiences even more meaningful and impactful. Every hour, day, week, and each cohort brought on different challenges to address. It provided the opportunity for me to be challenged to be more adaptable and resourceful on the spot. From shifting any negative mindsets to boosting individual, team, or group confidence, addressing fatigue to coaching team work, jump in as their team lead at times, and wrangling client expectations to coaching healthy mental and emotional wellbeing habits.

Participant Testimonials

[link to page of written testimonials]

Collaborated With

Mosaic BC: Senior Mgr Employment Programs, IWERC Program Coordinator, Program Assistants, Job Placement Specialist
Local Organizations: City of Vancouver Engineering Departments (3x), Telus – Marketing & Innovations, Gate Gourmet, Mosaic BC – Funding and Marketing, Latincouver (2x), and Norteway Consulting.

Services Used

  • Experiential Workshop Design & Facilitation
  • Agile Iterations/Improvements – Each cohort I iterated the content and delivery style to suit the group/team. Live customization of the experience to achieve the best possible outcome within the limitations.
  • Executive Coaching – Provide guidance and support to teams and individuals in developing their soft skills, perspective, and mindset.

    Working as their Senior Lead Consultant within each team:
  • Service Design Sprints – Full Phases
  • Design & Strategy – worked with teams to guide and foster collaborative leadership. Lead them through the process to guide them towards solutions that best answered the needs of the clients and users.
  • New Development – worked with each team to oversee and coach the development of ideas, strategies, and prototype solutions.

Tools Used

  • User Research
  • Client/User Interviews
  • Contextual Immersion
  • 5 Whys
  • Service Safaris
  • Analogous Research
  • Framing & Bundling Insights
  • Collaborative Brainstorming
  • How Might We statements
  • Concept Storyboards
  • User Personas
  • Touchpoint mapping
  • Prototyping – role-playing, mockups
  • Testing and Evaluation
  • Service Journey Blueprint
  • Solution Roadmap
  • Show’n Tell Solutions
  • Cheers and Fears – Check-In
  • Insights through Reflection – what worked, what didn’t, what I learned
  • Activities for building engagement and empowerment: Ice Breaker, Team Builders, Guided Meditations & Reflections

Some Snapshots

To see a sample of one team’s outcomes, please check out their Summary Report, where they show their process to help engage the client and provide a sense of ownership to the clients in owning the insights gathered and how the insights were used to arrive at the solution ideas they prototyped and validated in the first round of testing, making the recommendation for the client to adopt the work and prototypes to test and iterate, along with a roadmap of what they can do.

A 10 days immersion/hands-on workshop where new immigrant professional women from different backgrounds of 9 to 13 different countries are trained and coached to learn and use Design Thinking under our Service Design framework, to help local companies solve real-world challenges they are facing.