Part 2 - Open Labs: Solution and Strategy
Bringing together behavioral health organizations and their users
Scoped workshop requirements
Co-created facilitation guide and agenda
Recruited workshop participants (30 neurodivergent people in tech and 8 stakeholders to validate problems and commit resources)
Assembled Facilitation Team
Zach Nies (VP of Education at Techstars, Agile Coach)
Amy Reichlin (Psychologist, Executive Coach)
Sam Elmore (Psychologist, Executive Coach)
Lance Powers (Technologist living with condition, Open Labs)
CHALLENGE & APPROACH
After analyzing the research, we learned a lack of insight from the end user was the biggest challenge with current workplace mental health solutions. People with mental illnesses were eager to be heard, but could not find a safe channel to communicate. We sought to create an environment where people with mental illness felt it was safe to share, without worrying about the repercussions from employers or feeling ashamed about their illness. The environment was thoughtfully designed to create trust between those with illnesses and the organization representatives so they could work together to design product and service solutions.
The workshop had to account for other requirements because of the users' unique cognitive needs. A general characteristic of people with bipolar disorder (the primary illness of participants) is a tendency to have big ideas and divergent thinking, but have trouble converging and executing a project to completion. With this in mind, I invited organizations who were already committed to the focal areas we identified in the preliminary research analysis. These organizations brought funding, resources, and full-time staff to ensure the solutions from the workshop would be implemented and sustained.
Each of the project concepts formed a team comprised of an organization in mental health partnered with people with mental illnesses. Together, they designed a roadmap and entered into a cadence to continue communication, share insights, and iterate on solutions with the input of all needed stakeholders.
Workshop concepts from November 2017
Workplace toolkit and assessment
Advocate and Ally training
As of 2018, these concepts evolved into Open Labs projects:
Mental Health Friendly Workplace Certification in Partnership with Health Links (funded by the Center for Disease Control) to certify 200+ businesses in Colorado
Communication Training in partnership with story2 to teach people with a mental illness how to talk about their conditions without fear or shame
Parents Circle to share experiences on how to be an advocate and caretaker for someone with a mental illness
Prior to the workshop, I synthesized the research for the facilitation team and detailed the goals and objectives of the session. Together, we designed the workshop agenda and facilitation guide.
Attendees were taken on a journey from integration to experiment design, which enabled them to feel safe sharing personal information and co-creating. The workshop facilitated the formation of teams comprised of Open Labs users (people with mental illness) and customers (organizations serving them) through a variety of design and facilitation techniques.
Periodically, throughout the Open Labs design process, we revised the Lean Canvas (see Part 1) and assessed business risks and uncertainty.
The Open Labs staff also revisited key challenges to ensure business objectives of the nonprofit aligned with Key Performance Metrics for individual projects produced during the workshop.