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Exhibiting Gratitude

The “Exhibiting Gratitude” activities will encourage staff to share expressions of gratitude using interactive models.

Photo of Kalie Sacco

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The Lawrence Hall of Science is a busy place where individuals are constantly creating and supporting high quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences for all kinds of of learners. Although we work on a wide range of initiatives across many types of learning environments, one thing we are known for across the board is interactive, hands-on experiences that encourage reflection. Our idea to inspire the experience and expression of gratitude in our workplace is to build a series of interactive “exhibit” pieces that will invite staff to express gratitude for one another’s work. To keep things interesting, we’ll switch out these “exhibits” each month, and will also iterate and test different mechanisms. 

We’ll design ideas that invite both public and private expressions of gratitude to match different communication styles. And, we’ll build in ways to encourage and incentivize participation without requiring it. 

We piloted three exhibits--the Wheel of Gratitude, Jars of Gratitude, and Making a Note of It--at our staff holiday party. Photos and videos of the pilot session, the User Experience Journey that informed our design, and survey results with feedback from the pilot session are available on Google Drive.

Idea Title

Exhibiting Gratitude

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

In our public science center, we offer many ways for learners of different styles to learn and experience STEM through hands-on activities. These interactive experiences encourage reflection and offer flexibility for different working styles. We will use these principles in Exhibiting Gratitude to inspire expression and experience of gratitude both publicly and anonymously, and create structures and incentives for staff to use these different tools.

Who are you innovating for?

Staff at the Lawrence Hall of Science. For the past several years, this incredible group of people have been working under constrained resources, unrelenting workloads, and a time of intense organizational change. It is a high priority for Hall leadership to make sure that staff now how much their amazing work is appreciated, and to always be seeking out new ways to improve morale. It is our hope that Exhibiting Gratitude will be a new way for staff to express and feel gratitude for one another.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

Although we happen to be a hands-on science center and science learning R&D organization, the Exhibiting Gratitude could be put in any organization with a common staff area, access to low-cost materials, and a desire for expressing gratitude in an ingenious way.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

We would roll out the idea in the Director's monthly all-staff email, and would work with the Cross-Hall Networking team (a volunteer group of individuals who facilitate collaborative professional learning experiences) to introduce it at an upcoming all-staff meeting. Our Management Team (each department at the Hall has a Management Team representative) would encourage their groups to set aside time at staff meetings to use or participate in the gratitude exhibits, and that team would also model expressing gratitude by using the exhibits themselves. In this way, we would (as the Challenge Brief encourages) create space for an organizational shift in expressing gratitude without requiring it.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

As the GGSC says in its article Five Ways to Cultivate Gratitude at Work, “The key is to create times and spaces that foster the voluntary, spontaneous expression of gratitude.” The main obstacle we see is having people take the time to engage with the “exhibits.” We will mitigate this, at first, by providing time during staff meetings to engage until it becomes part of the organizational culture. We will also incentivize participation by showing gratitude to those who participate.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

The Cross-Hall Networking team and a volunteer group will design a few mock-ups of exhibits, and prototype them with a test audience consisting of at least one person from each department (nominated by their Management Team representative). Our Production Studio (exhibit development) team would advise on fabrication, and then work with us to run a focus group to make sure that the exhibit prototypes meet the goal of expressing and experiencing gratitude.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

We will work with OpenIDEO on the focus group and exhibit element design process, and will work with the Greater Good Science Center to turn their resources for expressing and experiencing gratitude into physical exhibit experiences. This collaboration will take place through at least one planning phone call to inform the initial brainstorm of exhibit experiences, and at least one in-person meeting with representatives from each team to review the physical prototypes.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

We’re a hands-on science center--building and testing exhibits is what we do every day! It has been a challenge to help teams across the Hall learn about each other's work. We recently conducted an organizational infrastructure needs assessment that revealed how many groups across the Hall don’t understand what other groups are doing, and don’t fully appreciate or understand roles that other team members play. GGSC resources have inspired us in the past to be more effective at building our team.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Kalie Sacco and I am submitting our idea on behalf of the Hall's Management Team (MT). I coordinate special projects for our Interim Director and the MT, and am lucky enough to work across multiple projects and teams throughout the organization. This effort will be led by the MT and other core staff.

Where are you / your team located?

Berkeley, California.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

We are a department of the University of California, Berkeley.

Company / Organization Name

Lawrence Hall of Science


Tell us about your experience

All of our working group team members have worked in a range of functions in the science center field. Our group includes: a program manager, an administrative specialist, a learning researcher/evaluator, and an exhibit designer. Our diverse experiences all contribute to the creation of interactive, impactful, and innovative learning experiences.

Please describe, in detail, how you will test and get feedback on your concept.

To begin the refinement phase, we brought together a working group--including an exhibit designer, an educational evaluator, and an administrative specialist--to talk about the purpose of the activity and figure out which kinds of "exhibits" we wanted to test. This was informed by our user experience journey. Next, we met to create prototypes of three exhibit ideas: 1) Wheel of Gratitude, Jars of Gratitude, and Make a Note of It. We ended up with 3 final products using materials we had already lying around the Hall. We piloted them at our all-staff holiday party. We offered both facilitated and non-facilitated (standalone) opportunities to try out the exhibits. After the party, we sent out a survey to get additional feedback on the exhibits.

Please describe specifically how you plan to scale your idea. What are the key next steps you will take, and how will those steps inform the evolution and growth of your concept?

Our pilot session revealed a few key takeaways: -In general, people liked using the exhibits. They were easy to use, and fun to use too! -When the exhibits weren't facilitated, the instructions were somewhat unclear (even with signage). We need to have better instructions. -There was a desire for follow-up--distributing the notecards, having a reminder to complete Wheel activities, sharing the number of beads in the jar, etc. -We asked survey respondents to share other ideas they have for exhibits that encourage us to authentically express gratitude in the workplace. People had a lot of diverse ideas, leading us to think that there is a bigger opportunity for staff involvement. To scale our idea, we'll need to incorporate the following into future exhibits: -More opportunities for interaction. -Clear instructions for each exhibit. -A robust communications plan to make people aware of the exhibits. -A follow-up feature built in to each exhibit to share results (and hopefully encourage participation in future exhibits). -A balance between public and private expressions of gratitude.

As we have seen in the Challenge, there is a tension between authentic expressions of gratitude and mandatory gratitude. How does your idea inspire truly authentic expressions of gratitude versus mandated ones?

We asked participants if each exhibit allowed them to express gratitude in an authentic way. Most respondents to our survey felt that the exhibits met that goal. Putting the exhibits in a public location used by most staff encourages "drive-by," opportunistic, authentic participation--users must opt in to joining. To encourage that, our management team has agreed to model and communicate about use of the exhibits.

Gratitude often thrives when opportunities for connection are created. How will your concept create new opportunities for human connection?

One survey respondent suggested that we "provide structured opportunities during work time for people to think/create" expressions of gratitude; our management team will encourage this during staff meetings, and we will take advantage of larger all-staff opportunities (like the holiday party) where as a group, we will engage in expressions of gratitude. We'll also keep including activities that encourage in-person expression (several activities on the Wheel of Gratitude do this).

Who (specifically) will benefit from your concept, and how they will interact with it? What design considerations have you included to ensure easy and intuitive interactions? 

Our aim is to make the exhibits accessible and usable by all staff. To the extent possible, they will be created with the universal design principles that we already use in our hands-on public exhibits. Our pilot session and feedback survey revealed that even when instructions were presented next to the exhibits, use was not always clear. Some initial tweaks to the design to address this would include: -Wheel of Gratitude: Print each action on a slip of paper that can be removed by the user to provide them with a reminder/further instruction to complete the action. -Jars of Gratitude: Use only one color of bead, or clearly assign meaning to the colors. -Make a Note of It: Use different sizes of note card (for more or less text) and darker pens. For future exhibits, our working group will write out and test instructions with volunteers before premiering each exhibit to make sure they are easy and intuitive to use.

Please describe how you intend to use the prize funding, if selected as a Top Idea. Be specific.

1. Our team will review survey results, and brainstorm at least 12 exhibits. We'll include ideas from the survey, and invite other staff input as needed. 2. Then, we will build the exhibits themselves using the budget provided by the funding. We'll also develop a communications plan to make people aware of each opportunity. 3. Over the next year, we will premier a new exhibit in the staff lounge. We'll document use and share final results at the next holiday party.
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Attachments (2)


The User Experience Journey that framed our design of the three pilot exhibits.

Exhibiting Gratitude Feedback Survey.pdf

Feedback collected after our pilot of three exhibit ideas at our annual all-staff holiday party.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Kalie,

This is a final reminder that the deadline for all submission materials is 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time TODAY--that's in less than 4 hours. Excited to see your final post on the platform!

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