Leading by Solving Problems: A Framework for Motivating Change At Any Level

Workshop Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

In large organizations, it's easy to feel powerless to make a difference. This workshop will layout a hands-on framework for doing just that.


Dylan Herx is an instructional designer at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He specializes in supporting faculty teaching online courses and using mobile technologies in the classroom.
Emily Goldstein is an instructional designer at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She works to develop professional development opportunities to support faculty with creation of their online courses. She is also working with Dylan (presenter) to identify ways in which to use mobile technologies in the classroom and online.

Extended Abstract

Using design thinking, startup savvy, and higher education experience, this hands-on workshop will walk you through a framework for leading change by finding and solving real-world problems. Each attendee will propose a problem to solve and then work with others in the session to design and refine a solution. The steps are outlined below:

Brainstorm a problem.
--Everyone has problems. It may be impending competition, mismatched values, big inefficiencies, or orphaned projects.

Select the biggest one.
--Pick a problem and spend the workshop sizing it up from all directions. It should be big enough to be worth tackling.

Find co-champions.
--Two heads are better than one; seven heads make a hydra. The point is that groups make ideas better. Besides, it's harder to say no to a group than to an individual. For the purposes of the session, your group will be a peer sitting near you.

Design solutions.
--This is a mad dash. We're not necessarily looking just for the practical ones; we're looking for any and all solutions. The goal here is to think outside the box.

Get feedback.
--Take your solutions to your co-champion. What works and what doesn't? Where can tweaks be made? Ultimately, you must decide which solution is the best.

Build an MVP.
--Borrowed from the startup world, an MVP is a Minimum Viable Product. It's the most basic components you can use to show a working prototype of your solution. Since we'll be limited on resources in the session, we'll use things like case studies, drawing/diagramming, storyboards, and outlines to communicate our solutions.

Analyze the costs/benefits.
--Before a solution can move on, one must consider the costs involved. Will your solution save money or cost more? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? What is the price of doing nothing? Answer these questions and we'll be ready to pitch.

Prepare an elevator pitch.
--In 5 minutes or less, pitch the problem and your proposed solution. Try to minimize fluff and maximize the details that matter. Get feedback from a peer and then hear their pitch.

Reflect and refine.
--In the real world, this would be "sleeping on it". Take a few minutes, hours, days to roll the problem around in your head before deciding to undertake it.

Go forth and pilot.
--Piloting is a low stakes "yes". Even if the supervisor/administrator deciding the fate of your solution is against it, he/she may yield to a pilot. Pilots are cheap, lean, and can often grant you the insight you need to make the right decision to solve your problem.