Design Thinking Bootcamp

Background

This was the first assignment of my master’s program in design. Our cohort was challenged to work together as a team to put on a design thinking bootcamp for young working professionals. Beyond being given a few milestone dates and team functions (marketing, finance, program management, curriculum), everything else was left up to us. I served as the lead of the (project &) program management team.


Process

The project & program management (PPM) team formed organically from the need for clarity following the chaos of initial team selection and confusion around where and how to start. Our team strongly felt that it was not enough for us to simply handle day-of event logistics; more structure and process was needed leading up to that day, which fell most naturally to our team. With the buy-in of the other teams, we expanded from program to project management.

We self-organized such that each PPM team member had dual membership with one other team. This helped us to be more proactive about ensuring alignment among all teams. We also facilitated a project kick-off meeting so that our cohort could organize around channels and cadences of communication, articulate community expectations and guidelines, and agree upon first action items.

The PPM team had four primary responsibilities leading up to and through the event:

  • Upholding accountability to the bootcamp vision

  • Maintaining clear and frequent communication among teams

  • Staying current on project status and resolving/delegating any surfaced issues

  • Interfacing with teams, speakers, attendees, and vendors and managing related logistics for a seamless bootcamp experience

Upholding accountability to the bootcamp vision

Our first all-hands was a blue sky vision meeting in which we ideated what our dream bootcamp would look like. After a period of open brainstorming, we clustered our ideas into categories that could be owned by teams, including community, vibes, outcomes, content, food, and goodies. Each team then applied these categories to creating an individual team vision and defining the tactical milestones and subtasks it would take to fulfill it. The PPM team populated a spreadsheet with these items and used it to hold teams accountable to this vision.

 
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Maintaining clear and frequent communication among teams

The agreement on channels and cadences of communication from the kick-off meeting was a mixture of standups, all-hands, and Slack. Given the speed at which we had to move to pull the bootcamp together, the PPM team enforced this agreement as critical to alignment. To avoid unnecessary meetings, we revisited periodically and made adjustments leading up to the bootcamp.

Staying current on project status and resolving/delegating any surfaced issues

The PPM team used the milestone spreadsheet to track progress against our expected timeline, as well as through live updates during standups and all-hands. We also took on the responsibility of following through on issue resolution, whether it was something our team could take care of or something that had to be done by another team.

 
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Interfacing with teams, speakers, attendees, and vendors and managing related logistics for a seamless bootcamp experience

This responsibility had the most moving pieces. The PPM team was in charge of managing expectations and confirming all stakeholders knew where to be at what time in order to make sure everything day-of ran smoothly. We also made sure that the curriculum team had everything it needed in order to create the experience they had designed for the participants.


Outcome

We sold out all 48 tickets to the event, earned over $11,000 in profit, and received a net promoter score of 69. Additionally, many attendees requested that we come and put on the same bootcamp for their company.

Our last task as the PPM team was facilitating a post-mortem meeting in order to debrief the event, discuss what went well and what was challenging, and think about how we could apply these lessons to the remainder of our program at Stanford.

Length:
8 weeks

Tools:
Slack
Google Drive
Email

Skills:
Project Management
Program Management