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Solve4Work Club (2nd Iteration, user experience map draft) 18.02.2017

Diverse student teams collaborate with communities and businesses to solve local challenges as a way of making learners “future ready”

Photo of Isaac Jumba
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The Context

In Kenya, about 300,000 graduates enter the job market each year with less than 10% guaranteed of jobs. Over 50% of the graduates feel they are not prepared for the next phase of life. A prior project/work experience is often required, even for entry-level jobs from employers. Companies are increasingly looking for ways of cutting costs associated with recruitment and talent development. A disconnect between the learners and the local community is limiting innovation, collaboration and development. Learners are increasingly looking for opportunities to create impact, engage with each other and gain practical and life skills. Achievements and graded in school still matter to learners and to the society.

The Problem

  1. Students in higher learning institutions find it difficult accessing opportunities that will better prepare them for the job market while still in school.
  2. Local organizations and businesses lack adequate and trusted channels to engage with learners early enough.


Our solution is starting the Solve4Work Club for learners in Kenya.

The Solve4Work club seek to prepare learners to be “future-ready” both for the labor market and entrepreneurship. We are a trusted platform where students from diverse fields work together to solve real local challenges, with guidance and partnership of the local communities, local organizations/businesses and mentorship from industry experts.

Our goals are to:

  1. Enable students gain real-world experience by collaboratively tackling real local challenges and designing solutions that have social impact.
  2. Be a link between the learners, the industry and the local communities
  3. Spark collaboration among students from different fields and schools, something which is not being done at the moment.
  4. Equip learners with 21st century skills and have them experience a glimpse inside a company’s culture and innovation process.


For companies, we are connecting you with motivated, smart, innovative, talented and well-trained students who are your future talent.

For local communities, we are sparking innovation, development and impact, by connecting you with learners and businesses.

How it works:

Solve4Work- How it Works

This is an updated and revised version of our Solve4work submission. You can find the original submission of our idea here

Insights from our problem space validation

During the first and second week of February, we set out to talk to current college and university students (both junior and senior), recent graduates, startup founders, business owners, recruiters, ready for work organizations, lecturers and the community. The main goals for the field research was to:

  • Validate exactly what gap exists between higher learning and the industry
  • What current solutions are addressing the gaps
  • What the future ideal solutions could be

We also roughly validated our idea from our submission phase.

Here is the summary of the insights that came out of our field interviews.

We also took detailed notes (including audio in some cases) and insights during our interviews with the different targeted individuals. You can have a look at it here.

With the iterated solution, we see:

An all inclusive system that will enable learners be better prepared for the needs of the workforce and entrepreneurship where:

  • The industry and the local community are collaborators
  • The educators and experts are facilitators
  • Learners from diverse fields work together on real-world challenges
  • The system integrates with the existing higher learning approach, where grades, titles and degrees still matter; rather than replacing the whole education system.
  • There is flexibility for the parties involved (students, businesses and communities)
  • There is room for failure for the learners
  • Learners are excited about the challenges they want to solve


Inspiration

The Solve4Work idea has evolved mostly because of feedback from learners, the faculty, the local businesses. A big part of the concept is also credited to Anne-Laure, our team member, who is part of Design For America - New York University, an almost similar model with lots of successes.


What solutions currently exist?

Lots of programs, startups and initiatives have been set up to address the skill gap in Kenya.

  • The 2Jiajiri program by KCB which has picked 10,000 youths for its first cohort and aims at enabling youths to become self-employed.
  • The Presidential Digital Talent Program DigiTalent focusses on giving ICT graduates practical skills through placement in both public and private organizations
  • The Junior Achievement program, mainly focuses on high schools and enables students make the right career choices by giving them early industry exposure
  • Barclays Ready to Work program which is also being carried out offline at Strathmore University gives students life and work skills.
  • The TVET program by Kenyan Government and the DOT Kenya program
  • Yusudi - a startup providing skill development for those above 18 years old
  • Skilled-based institutions like Andela, Moringa School producing top class world talent
  • Hubs such as iLabAfrica, C4DLab are school hubs to incubate student ideas while in school.


Our uniqueness

While most current solutions mostly focus on graduates, we focus on learners. Also, for the real-world projects, we have a bias towards solving local challenges with the goal of connecting learners to the local communities. Lastly, interdisciplinary collaboration is aspect that makes Solve4Work stand out. Whether its undergraduate or graduate students or whether it's between junior and senior students, we provided the much needed environment for teamwork, failure and learnings.

More:

Our ideal user

The user experience map

Tasks to be completed: 

  1. Try a little prototype with students.
  2. Prototype the solution with local organizations and businesses.
  3. Iterate from the collected feedback.

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

The idea is designed for university and college students (mostly), local organizations and the local communities.

We are providing opportunities for students to go outside the classroom and put their learning to action through innovation that creates impact while fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and connecting learners to the local community and the industry.

This idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm
  • An individual
  • A Design Jam or Workshop event

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

For now, help in understanding the value the club will have for the local businesses and how best to approach them. I'm working with the local OpenIDEO chapter here in Nairobi in helping prototype and test the idea.
Another help would be questions/comments on why the idea will/will not work.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We have planned a series of experiments which include:
Designing and distributing flyers about the club in a pilot university to gauge the interest
Designing a launch page where students can sign up
Do a survey on what local challenges students would like to solve.

Tell us about your work experience:

I love using technology and design to solve local challenges. I'm currently a co-creator at Mideva Labs (http://www.mideva.co) working on introducing design thinking workshops in schoools in Kenya. I have previously co-founded two for-impact startups.

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone? 2-3 sentences.

We create viable transition from school to the job market for learners by providing a platform where learners can gain real world experiences, collaborate with each other, get connected to the industry and create social impact in their communities.

What is the specific problem your idea is trying to solve? 1 sentence.

Students in higher learning institutions find it difficult accessing opportunities that will better prepare them for the job market while still in school.

How is your idea different or unique from what is currently on the market?

Our uniqueness:
While most current solutions mostly focus on graduates, we focus on learners. Also, for the real-world projects, we have a bias towards solving local challenges with the goal of connecting learners to the local communities. Lastly, interdisciplinary collaboration is aspect that makes Solve4work stand out. Whether its undergraduate or graduate students or whether it's between junior and senior students, we provided the much needed environment for teamwork, failure and learnings.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

Number of students who get jobs/internships or go ahead to start their own businesses.
Measuring the number of participating organizations for the challenges
The level of investment by the school
Successful prototypes from the challenges

How might your idea be transferable to a large number of people?

The Solve4Work club can be replicated across the campuses and schools in Kenya and Afrca.
Also an online platform will have the power to reach a bigger population

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

Fully implement the idea after a successful validation, prototypinga and testing

71 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Isaac
Team

I would like to thank each one of you for your amazing thoughts, insights, questions and contributions to the idea. In this next stage, I do really need lots of help in further refining the idea. I have created a Google folder where we could all collaborate from :) My email address is isaacjumba@gmail.com . Best, Isaac

Photo of Rana
Team

Congratulations Issac! happy to help. Warmly, Rana

Photo of Anne-Laure
Team

Congrats! I will write an email. My semester is crazy but I will do my best to make suggestions and answer questions especially as I've been doing a lot of similar things with DFA NYU and other programs at NYU.

Photo of Isaac
Team

Team Hey team,

Here is the shared folder for the Solve4Work idea: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B3EwhS1pOvbjbXBJc3JFV2RVcXc?usp=sharing
Feel free to add questions, comments and insights.

Best, Isaac

Photo of Bettina
Team

Hi Isaac.
I just read the updates and Google documents - Interview Notes, and Summary of Insights. Great work!!! You gathered lots of information from different users. I saw notes from interviews with university students, business owners and recruiters. Were you able to speak to any university professors or administrators?
The graphic is also great!

Team Great comments on the Google Docs! I just added to the conversation on the Insights Document and put a few comments on the Interview Notes doc as well.

A few things stood out for me from the insights and comments. (Re-sharing thoughts here.)
 
1) Most students feel that who you know, your network, is an asset for getting a job.
 
Both Isaac and Anne-Laure pointed out that in their experience it is not easy to get students to work together in multidisciplinary teams on projects. Might pointing out to students that working with others across disciplines broadens their network be a way to nudge them to connect on projects? (It will broaden their network as well.)

How about creating a series of lectures early in the Solve4Work year, during "Immersion", where university lectures working collaboratively across disciplines are invited to lecture on whatever topic they want as a way to "set the stage"? a) to model professional collaboration b) bring diverse students together. (Isaac mentioned that most projects now are club based and clubs are subject specific.)
Perhaps alumni in the workforce can participate as speakers as well?
Maybe this series could be open to "community members" who will participate in Solve4Work during the coming year and as a way to connect students students and community, and also as a way to be hospitable to community members? Could there be a social aspect to these lectures?

2) "There is room for failure." - as part of the Solution Space.
I imagine that students who are working diligently on their coursework will have a hard time embracing the idea of failure. How might Solve4Work create an atmosphere where failure is expected and celebrated as part of the process?

3) Can reflective exercises enrich this experience and also become something tangible that might help students with job interviews and job acquisition?
Might reflecting on what they have experienced during the process of Solve4Work help learners prepare themselves for the transition to work? Might journaling during the year give them insights that they can then share via storytelling?
Maybe learners are required to write a final group of stories highlighting aspects of their experience that were meaningful to them? Might this prepare them for job interviews and create opportunities for learners to share aspects of themselves that they might not otherwise recognize?

Have you seen this Idea in Refinement? https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/future-of-highered/refinement/what-have-you-learned

Thoughts?

Photo of Isaac
Team

Hi Bettina adnd team, thanks for the summary and insights that you have captured so far. I'm meeting up with the educators end of this week and the faculty to share the idea. Will report back on the findings.

I like your idea of "setting the stage" and creating a series of lectures that will well introduce the concepts to the students and also start creating a room for interaction. Looking on ways this can work without the lecturers feeling they are committing alot of time for this. The aspect of storytelling is a brilliant one. I read the idea https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/future-of-highered/refinement/what-have-you-learned
on refined and I see it as an addition to the model. During the demo day, students could integrate this as part of their presentaion.

Photo of Anne-Laure
Team

Bettina Fliegel all great ideas (as always!). On the setting the stage lecture series, it's a great idea but based on my experience (I spent a year at Imperial college in London. While there, I worked on a project where tried to create connections between faculty in the engineering and business school and with faculty at the Royal College of Art. This is not an easy task - mainly for institutional and personal reasons). However, if there was the possibility to do even some of it that would be great. I think it makes sense if it was for a course with the university support. Maybe another way would have to have small lightning talks by faculty or simply invite to the club project critiques... I love the story element (we've been discussing a similar model with DFA NYU). I personally asked students in my design thinking class to write reflections during the class and particularly at the end on what they learnt, what was surprising, what they will keep using or not using from the methods we learnt, etc. I found this last reflection to be really powerful.

Photo of Kate
Team

Hi Isaac,

It is great to see how Solve4Work Challenge is developing and all the collaboration that is taking place.

I wonder if John NDUKO might have some thoughts on Solve4Work.

Photo of Isaac
Team

Thanks Kate for looping John in. Next week I'm meeting up with faculty to take them through the idea. Thanks. And please keep asking the hard questions :)

Photo of Anne-Laure
Team

Isaac Jumba  I was thinking about the light prototype and I was wondering if you could organize an ideation jam with a local organization and students. You could set up something for 2 hours. See what we did last Spring with OpenIDEO NYC, DFA NYU and some students from Parson New School: http://www.nycopenideochapter.com/news/2016/5/11/redesigning-community-member-culture-ideation-jam-for-the-center-for-social-innovation

And at the end of the event you could have a flyer describing what Solve4Work is and proposes and a sign in sheet for interested students (and possibly companies or organizations who might be interested in providing challenges).

You could plan this in a short time and test quite a few of your assumptions.

Photo of Bettina
Team

AL,
Did the students in the design jam already know the design thinking approach, or did you introduce it to them within the 2 hour design jam?

Photo of Anne-Laure
Team

Bettina Fliegel good question! In that specific case, some students knew the process (those who helped organize and facilitate) but other participants (students and professionals) did not all have any experience with design thinking / human-centered design and they participated to learn. The way we designed it was very much learning by doing with some guidelines to take them through the process. In fact, that's often what I do in my workshops and I found it's the best way to teach the process. I have done something similar with an NGO in Prague and NYU students last spring. We had 3 hours in that case. I hope that answers your question.

Photo of Anne-Laure
Team

Bettina Fliegel good question! In that specific case, some students knew the process (those who helped organize and facilitate) but other participants (students and professionals) did not all have any experience with design thinking / human-centered design and they participated to learn. The way we designed it was very much learning by doing with some guidelines to take them through the process. In fact, that's often what I do in my workshops and I found it's the best way to teach the process. I have done something similar with an NGO in Prague and NYU students last spring. We had 3 hours in that case. I hope that answers your question.

Photo of Isaac
Team

Thanks again AL. I was actually talking to one of the organizations I used to work with whether we could work with some students to design new ideas for their program. My biggest worry was that the students will be new to HCD and that the workshop could take a day or two. Your article on what you did with the CSI shows this is possible. I would be interested in knowing how you broke it down to 2 hours (basically a guide)

Photo of Anne-Laure
Team

Isaac Jumba Ideally you would want the project to be at least a semester long. I've learnt over time that 2 semesters (sometime more) is more realistic to get something that can be really implemented. And of course, even one day or 2 days allow for more richness and depth than 2 hours. However, you can still generate some interesting ideas in 2 hours and this can be a great way for you to test the interest of the students as well as of organizations. On the how, I can send you what I developed for some of these workshops.But here is the general idea. You need to spend time with the organization to define the brief and challenge question. Depending on the kind of organizations, either you get some users to come for interviews (that's what we did with CSI as some of their members participated) or you do research and create personas to help students generate ideas. The workshop is structured around the design thinking process and you basically get them through the process and then tell them, what they did. At the end, you can debrief and wrap up with students. Each time I've done that with an organization, I've changed it a bit but I'm happy to share examples with you.

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