I’m a little late to the party, but I’m happy to announce that my team was the winner of the Braven Capstone Challenge, hosted in collaboration with San José State University and and PricewaterhouseCoopers!

overview

Over the course of several weeks, me and my cohort were given the opportunity to practice our collaborative skills in a real-world environment by developing a solution to a problem posed by PwC. This culminated in the development of an oral presentation, which we gave in conjunction with other groups to a panel of judges. Our solution was eventually selected as the winner after deliberation!

I’m eternally grateful for the advice and support of my Learning Coach Shanea Dangerfield, as well as my fellow cohort members Tanaya Arya, Shahar Kantorovich, Xhitlali Perez, and Moukoyeing Xiong. We made an awesome and exceptional team, and I enjoyed working with all of you! I wish all of you the best in your future endeavors! :)

reflections

A couple of things that I learned and/or became apparent during the challenge:

importance of a design framework

A circular chart describing the phases of human-centered design: Observation, 
Ideation, Rapid Prototyping, User Feedback, Iteration, and Implementation
from usertesting.com

Although I had some intuition about how exactly to go about designing something, the Braven accelerator first introduced us to the idea of design thinking, a process first coined by IDEO. Essentially, it was a series of defined steps a design team could follow from the conceptual stage, all the way up to the final execution of the product, project, etc.

I confess our team did not stick exactly to the stages of the process :) but, I definitely saw the benefits that such a framework could bring for a larger team (and did for ours!). A design framework allows for a team to stay focused and on the same page, so to speak. In a smaller project or group, this doesn’t matter as much, as there are less items that need to be tracked and worked on (and so you can organize things in an ad-hoc manner for the most part). However, I see how explicitly formalizing a design process is crucial for large projects to stay on track, and will be something I keep in mind for future jobs and projects.

importance of having goal-oriented discussions

During discussions about the scope and detail of our project, we found ourselves getting ‘in the weeds’ a lot. That is; we were talking about and discussing perfectly valid things about the project, but we would find ourselves with nothing concrete done or decided after an hour or so.

That isn’t to say that all discussions without a goal are bad; indeed, I think that the fact that we had so much discussion about details and the overall organization of the project was a major contributing factor to our success! However, there were definitely meetings that felt like they dragged on or the discussion felt like it was going in circles. To avoid getting stuck, I found that having discussions focused around setting an concrete, short-term goal was helpful to keep our project on track.