Week 6: Building and Testing + The Lab Impactathon

As we enter our final phase of Building and Testing, it's exciting to hear reports from the teams about your research activities and what kind of insights and ideas your teams are coming up with.

And, as you all know, this is a very big week for the Social Impact Lab PDX! Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Key Reminders for Building:

  • Consider impact over feasibility - It is easy to use possibility as a way to measure the quality of an idea; however, given that we are still in ideation and the level of impact that we want these projects to make, we encourage "blue sky" thinking during this stage as much as possible! If you have a few unknowns that you have to assume are going to be in place for your idea to work, it can be useful to identify what these are and then move forward. If your team is deciding between several ideas, consider first and foremost what impact the idea will have and if it is meeting an actual need.

  • Give yourself a creative constraint - While it may seem counter-intuitive, designing with specific parameters or constraints often results in really exciting ideas. For example, since tech-based solutions are really common these days, imagine if you had to design a non-tech based solution or idea to solve your project's challenge. Take one of your ideas that requires technology and consider if there is an "analog" or off-line version of what you're tying to test, that you could design and prototype during the Design / Build phase?

  • Define the key features - As you ideate or brainstorm with your team or on your own, you may get stuck (with no ideas flowing) or have too many ideas (and have no idea how to narrow them down). One way to get over this hurdle is to think about "features" of your key ideas. For example, given the major insights you have gathered from your research, what are key elements or features that could help address, alleviate, or solve those insights? These can even then be pulled together to create a powerful, coherent idea that addresses several issues at once.

What to Expect this Week and this Weekend:
During the Lab Impactathon, your team will be asked to create a low-fidelity prototype that can be tested and iterated on. This may seem intimidating, but keep it simple! You should be curious about your team's ideas and if they're headed in the right direction -- the Impactathon is the chance to do so.

For the purposes of the Social Impact Lab, a prototype can be thought of as an object or experience that is used to communicate and inform. It communicates the broad features of an idea to the end-user, and their interactions with it will inform your team about what needs to be modified. You will have time on Thursday and Friday to design and begin prototyping. On Saturday, you'll have the chance to finish prototyping and get direct feedback from key stakeholders / end-users about these prototypes. You'll then have about two weeks after the Lab Impactathon to finalize your designs based on your prototyping -- this could look like gathering even more targeted feedback.

A brief overview of upcoming activities and project milestones are below. In addition, to prepare for the flurry of activity this weekend, check out the optional Lab Challenge below (which can be completed individually, as pairs, or as a team).

NOTE: While we will be providing basic prototyping materials / supplies for the Lab Impactathon, we'll be asking you to brainstorm as a team any additional materials that you can bring from around your home (e.g. old magazines, paper bags, cardboard boxes, yarn/string/other scraps). We suggest planning on every team member bringing 3-5 items depending on what prototype(s) your team chooses to build.

Upcoming Lab Events and Milestones:

  • Thursday, November 1st at 6 pm @ Jama Software - Workshop #3: Build + Test

    • During the workshop, we'll be working together as a lab to provide input and feedback on team ideas. You'll be working with your team to decide what idea to move forward with. You'll also have time to begin designing a prototype to test during the Lab Impactathon.

    • Identify the specific prototyping materials you can bring from home to help build out your team's prototype.

  • Friday, November 2nd at 5:30 pm @ Jama Software - Lab Impactathon [DAY 1] Doors open at 5:15. Arrive at 5:30 for a pizza / salad dinner.* Activities begin at 6 pm and wrap-up at 9 pm

    • During the Friday evening session of the Impactathon, you'll be hearing from a guest speaker about prototyping and testing. You'll be working with your team to decide on what your feedback sessions will be testing as well as begin building prototypes.

    • Don't forget to bring any remaining needed prototyping materials to finish your team's prototype.

  • Saturday, November 3rd at 9 am @ Hatch Innovation - Lab Impactathon [DAY 2] Doors open at 8:45 am. Activities begin at 9 am. Lunch will be provided at noon.* Activities will wrap up at 5 pm.

    • During the Saturday AM session, you'll be hearing from a guest speaker. You'll also be working with your team to finish building your prototype and preparing for the feedback session.

    • During the Saturday PM session, you'll be engaging in several rounds of live feedback / testing (with key stakeholders) followed by team building-time to iterate and modify prototypes based on what you hear and observe. We'll end the afternoon with a final guest speaker.

    • NOTE ON FOOD: Light snacks will be available in the morning and afternoon; a full lunch will be provided.

Don't forget about our Lab Celebration
In addition, be sure to mark your calendars for the final community celebration where your team will be presenting your process and final designs to project sponsors. It's not too early to begin inviting peers, friends or family.

  • Thursday, November 15th at 6 pm @ WeWork - Community Celebration Hors d'oeuvres / refreshments will be provided*

*Gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options will be provided

Phew! So rest up, friends! Be in touch with any questions and we're excited to see you soon!