Impactathon Preparation: Key Mindsets and How to Prepare

As you prepare for this weekend’s Impactathon, here’s some tips on how to prepare and what you can practice during the weekend.

What to expect this weekend:


During the Lab Impactathon, you will be asked to create a low-fidelity prototype that can be tested and iterated on. You will have several chances to gather feedback on these early prototypes from real people. This may seem intimidating, but keep it simple! You should be curious about what you've seen or heard so far. Now is the chance to test some of your assumptions and gather further information (input and feedback) in a targeted and condensed fashion.


How to prepare:

  1. Consider the "take-aways" from your research and workshop activities so far. Take some time to individually synthesize and notice if patterns or commonalities begin to surface. Perhaps this is a phrase, something that someone said and was repeated again in another way by someone else; a habit, that you observed or heard about and then saw supported or replicated elsewhere; or just an anomaly -- a pink elephant that seems to appear in a few different contexts across the people you've listened to or places you've visited.

  2. Compare your findings with teammates. We'll have a chance to discuss together on Friday, but use our #research or #design Slack channels to flag key findings and call attention to them. They may become important during the Impactathon. We'll be working together to catalogue collective insights on Friday evening as well.

  3. Complete the service blueprint. You may wish to return to the Service Blueprint activity that we began last week as a group. This may look like completing the one your group worked on in the session, or starting a new service blueprint for an area more specific to your design challenge and FMA. For some instructions on how to go about doing this, check out the Key Milestones for Lab Challenge #2.

What to practice:

Finally, this weekend will be a chance to actively practice key design mindsets. This will include the following:

  • Take action -- One  of the common phrases in design thinking is "bias towards action." This  simply means -- get going! It's easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by the  largeness of your project design challenge or the pressure of crafting the perfect question or design. But the lab format is meant to be a place to practice and implement. If you're stuck or need some help, don't hesitate to reach out -- we're in your corner!

  • Be flexible -- Whether you are interviewing to gather feedback or prototyping with a partner, here are a few ways to have a flexible mindset:

    • Gather stories not information -- Remember, getting to a story about why or how  is a great way to practice listening and get some good take-aways that  will help you later on. What your top three questions? What would you say to get people to share a story or show you something related to  your inquiry?


    • Use the power of creative observation -- You can learn a lot from simply observing. What is an analogous experience relevant to your inquiry? What could you learn from a seemingly unrelated environment or occupation? 
What can you "build" to have people interact with so that you can gauge their reactions?

  • Stay curious -- Keep asking questions. You'll have to begin to make assumptions but during prototyping and feedback sprints, consider this your change to question what you think you know. Use the prototype to validate and test, gathering feedback on an early hypothesis or assumption.

Workshop #2 Preparation: Getting Ready to Design

Looking forward to seeing you for our second workshop. We have a special guest speaker who will be working through a useful design framework that will help you as you continue to research and learn more about the landscape around the design challenges.

In case you missed highlights from last week's email, it is available as a post in our lab huddle space.

A few important things to note:

  • Lab Milestones have been updated with active links relevant to Workshop #1 (scroll to the bottom of our Huddle page; password: thrivetogether)

  • Don’t forget to log-in to Slack and post any updates from your research activities! It’s also a great way to stay connected to your peers. If you wish to conduct in-person interviews, consider using Lab Challenge 01 as a guide, available for download in Lab Milestones.

  • We also drafted some key tips for how to represent the lab when you reach out to community stakeholders. Be sure to “cc” hello@ (this email) so we have visibility into your work. Click here to read more.

Workshop #1 Follow-ups: Planning and Conducting Research

Here's a few gentle reminders as a follow-up to our first workshop:

1. Check out the Huddle page (password: thrivetogether) for key updates:

  • The "Onboarding" button has been renamed to "Project Resources" -- this is the space that will be updated actively as the weeks go on. Be sure to check out the resources already waiting there for you.

  • The Lab Milestones have been edited with active links to the handouts from Tuesday's workshop.

2. Join the Slack workspace by clicking here. Invites were sent to emails as well, so check your inbox!

  • Use the #research channel to collaborate on research ideas and connect with other teammates on possible join research activities.

3. Plan your research activity.

  • Review these brainstorms from Tuesday's workshop:

    • Consider who is inside or internal to the challenge (e.g. fire fighters). Consider who is outside or external to the challenge (e.g. who in the community?

    • Consider where you could go to observe a service, process, situation that is representative or analogous to this issue?

    • Consider who is in the room. What could we learn about our own stories? What questions could we ask to learn more about the way we approach the challenge?

  • As you consider conducting in-person interviews:

    • Contact us before making introductions, as we may be able to expedite connections with our contacts through Portland Fire & Rescue.

    • We also drafted some key tips for how to represent the lab during this research phase. Click here to read more.

4. Conduct your research.

  • If you wish to conduct in-person interviews, consider using Lab Challenge 01 as a guide, available for download in Lab Milestones.

Don't forget to use our Slack workspace to ask questions, compare notes, and review research findings!

Workshop #1 + Check out our online Lab Huddle!

A few exciting reminders and announcements this week:

Design Challenges for the Lab -- Last week, we revealed the three design challenges for the lab. If you haven't had a chance to review, click here to take a look at the Blueprint for Success project page.

Workshop #1 this Tuesday -- We'll be reviewing the design challenges in more detail this week during our first workshop on Tuesday, 5/21, at Fire Station One at 6:00 pm. Please shoot us a note if you anticipate being late or absent.

New Lab Huddle Webpage -- To prepare for our time together and to keep us connected throughout the lab, check out our new participant-only huddle space --

Huddle link: https://social-impact-lab.com/huddle-pdxsp19

Password: thrivetogether

This page contains key information for you about the lab. Be sure to bookmark it for future reference.

And finally, to prepare for Tuesday's workshop, review the Huddle page (see link above) for the following:

  1. Check out the Project Onboarding -- This page contains a curated list of resources about the three lab challenges to help you in your research

  2. View the Lab Participants gallery - Learn more about your fellow participants. NOTE: We are receiving applications from a few late-enrolling team members and will be sharing updates about teams at Tuesday's workshop!

  3. Review Key Lab Milestones - The lab process is outlined on the huddle page with key milestones highlighted. Review what actions you can anticipate this week after the workshop to help dig into the design challenges.

We're looking forward to seeing at this week’s workshop!

Welcome to the Social Impact Lab PDX: Spring 2019!

Welcome to the Social Impact Lab PDX:Spring 2019 Cohort! We are so excited to officially launch the PDX:SP19 cohort this week.

This orientation week is built into the lab to make sure you have plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the lab format & the Blueprint for Success project. It's a great time to get any logistical questions answered, and we'll be connecting you with your teams by the end of this week as well. Once we do so, we encourage you to introduce yourselves virtually and, if possible, find time to meet or connect either later this week or early next.

In the meantime, here's a couple very important announcements:

  • Orientation on Thursday, 5/16, at 2:30 pm -- Due to scheduling issues, our virtual orientation with Portland Fire & Rescue has been postponed to this Thursday, at 2:30 pm. We apologize for the late notice and we know that some of you may not be able to attend this live orientation, but we will be recording the meeting for future viewing. If you are unable to join the orientation, please send questions ahead of time. We'll address these in the webinar or through email.

  • Workshop #1 next Tuesday, 5/21, at 6:00 pm -- We will be meeting as a lab for our first in-person workshop at Fire Station One next week! Mark your calendars and be sure to save the dates for our other formal lab events:

    • Tues, 6/4, at 6 pm - Workshop #2

    • Tues, 6/11, at 6 pm - Workshop #3

    • Fri, 6/14 - Sat, 6/15 - Lab Impactathon (Friday, 6-9 pm; Saturday, 9 am - 5 pm)

    • Tues, 6/25, at 6 pm - Community Celebration

To review, here are three Launch Week Action Items:

01. Complete your lab registration forms, as we'll be using this information to form teams:

  • Fill out your Lab Profile. We want to share your story with other lab participants as well as your project sponsor(s).

  • Provide the lab organizers with some final formal info by filling out this short intake form.

02. Review the Blueprint for Success project page. We'll be sharing more about the specific design challenge during the Orientation call.

03. Mark your calendars for Thursday, 5/16 at 2:30 pm for the Virtual Orientation Call with Portland Fire & Rescue. Please send us your questions ahead of time -- especially if you're not able to join the orientation in real-time.

Be in touch with any questions!
@The Social Impact Lab