Design for Social Innovation

Session Book

I’m not quite sure how this session book is supposed to progress. I assume that these entries should be reflections? But I apologize in advance if my content is not what is expected. For each session, I will reflect on something that stood out to me from class and the reading.

Session 1
March 20, 2017

Honestly, this class was not something I expected at all. I took Intro to Design for Social Innovation taught by Silvia and Dimeji during 2nd semester 1st mini. During this class, we did a lot of intervention design worked in groups to tackle larger issues such as immigration vs. politics. However, during today’s class, we went through four methods: a poem (brings an experience into the room), impromptu networking (allows you to be more willing to talk if you talk at least once), sitting in threes (a bigger network), and making a graph (a class wide discussion). This in person activity made it more personal and made it seem more reasonable to use as a social design intervention method.

Session 2
March 22, 2017

In a system of society, I am always in the mercy of others, others whom I admire and will follow for a reason. I’ve always known that. It wasn’t until today’s exercise that I realized that although I am following someone/ others, someone else is also following me. I am also being modeled after. We are in a system of separate entities that idolize each other in a web of incoherent connections.
We followed this activity with another one in which we pretended to create an omelette with another student in the class. I was fortunate enough to do this activity with one of my close friends and we acted completely naturally. We were our normal goofy selves, which made us be not productive in the kitchen. The second time around, I was given the role as someone impatient while my partner was embarrassed because she is a slow learner. During this round, we were definitely more productive as I kind of took charge and made progress happen. 
This exercise kind of translates to anything that could happen in a real social setting. When there are more than yourself, a conversation needs to occur. We need to learn how to listen and how to have sympathy for the other being. There are so many factors and influencers that we cannot control. That is the fickle nature of life and the complexity of a system greater than ourselves. 
The world/ system we live in makes it hard for us to grow. The world is limited and so are we. In order to grow, we have to acknowledge our current state of being. I brought this up with a friend who constantly gets mad easily. I asked him to try to acknowledge his feeling of anger before he lashes out on anyone. He has recently told me that this method had worked. Whenever he felt like anger was crawling up on him, he acknowledged it and he felt something change.

Session 3
March 27, 2017

There is constant change around us. This is something that was emphasized with this session’s lecture. We are present in this time of the Great Turning. With this, we are all a part of some group within the system of constant change. We are either the ones causing the change, the ones trying to maintain the state, or somewhere in between. We are all active players in the cycle between self, group, and system.
The in class example we did with a neighborhood for self sustainment made it clearer how everyone is truly a part of a moving system no matter what. Homework
I’ve noticed that with each assigned reading or video, I’ve tried to see it in a way that relates directly to my life. So far, these readings and videos seem to be good methods when dealing with people/ other individuals. Listening is a trait that I really want to improve on. Something that I’ve noticed about myself is that, to be honest, there are about 1,000 thoughts running through my mind. My mind is already a mess of loose thoughts and unanswered questions. When I listen to someone else, I try to actively listen by calming down those other thoughts. However, as soon as the other person says something that particularly catches my attention, I am latched onto that specific point. If I disagree, I stopped listening and can only focus on my rebuttal. Nancy Klein brings some good methods to how to solve this issue. We must view the other as equals and put into light the positive and actively listen to the end of their words. The attitude can be manipulated through external factors such as the environment and mood.

Session 4
March 29, 2017

After the activity with my group about Pittsburgh becoming something of self sustainment, one of the questions asked was how did we feel the conversation felt if it were a meal? It was interesting to see what other people said. I thought that my group’s discussion was not satiating at all. It was ok, but I was still hungry because we lacked depth in our conversation. We threw around a bunch of ideas, but didn’t tackle down on one. Another person said the complete opposite. She thought that it was satisfying because we had so many possibilities. 
With this I feel like discussion is difficult. People are difficult, which makes a conversation difficult and unmanageable. The dynamics of discussion require the patience and active awareness. 
Dubberly’s poster was not intuitive. It was difficult to read. Most difficult. However, with closer inspection, the process made sense. Observe, Reflect, Make, repeat. We make iterations in order to make the clearer end result. With the creative process stems

Session 5
April 3, 2017

You can do little rituals that will allow your team to step back a little and reflect before you start:
What is the weather like today? (Internal, but brief)
Graph of Teammates 
Peter Block’s Civic Engagement 
There is a flow of ideas on many scales from global, systems/corp, school, family, etc through many different activities.
How do we work? Are we systemic, participatory, emergent, human? 
Who are we? examples: Polish Hill, Dialogue 
Block says dialogue comes from all of the flow ideas. There are different relationships: parent-child, peer-peer, etc. In the systems/ community view of things, you are a cause. It’s not only that you are following people, but others are following you! You decide whether you are tossed around by others, or if you are one of the causes. 
Inversion of thinking
Lynda Barry: “two questions held that part of me hostage” Where did it go, this part of me, that just flowed. self criticism engulfed her.
There is something interesting about the way that the class was structured today. In a way, the class was divided into three parts: Block, Barry, then Dubberly. However, in a way the three were all related. The most active portion: the Lynda Barry experiment was probably the most engaging because of the way it was an active process. This linked to the discussion about Dubberly and the creative process. The creative process never ends, it comes and goes, it flows with each new iteration.
It’s interesting how we talk opening up without making rash decisions especially in this community/ environment that stems from the stress culture of CMU. Students do make decisions under the pressures from stress and other external factors. Creativity also dies at the mercy of pressure. When we have deadlines, we don’t try a myriad of things, but rather just go straight to an idea that we deem as more worthwhile/ fruitful in order to be producctive. Pressure kills creativity and passion.

Session 6
April 5, 2017

Graph, 123 (energy engaged our bodies), poem & breathe, double circle (story share, offer something, gratitude), graph 
It’s hard to be open when you feel defensive, create an atmosphere of nonjudgemental acceptance. the feeling of undivided attention: usually from a close friend or family member, it is shocking at first to get it from a stranger, people come in a mood of stress, stress is below our level of awareness, check in with our bodies (the parasympathetic nervous system)
Our job is to help ppl move toward calm and ease. move away from the left side of the brain (linguistic, a story is created about the worst) and go toward the right side (direct experience). 
Foster a sense of deeper connection with one and another. sharing stories (i telling u an experience) vs honest dialogue (im telling u something im struggling with)
We are about creating good together, start with agreements of engagement.
sam kaner, we have different kinds of people → diagonal group (vertical=power, horizontal=cross functional), accordion process (double diamon) divergent thinking vs convergent thinking
a story: humane society 
listening lens 
mostion, body, and disengagement helps with reflection
Instead of being there for the killer and helped/ supported him out of this killing, they rather put him down further and shamed him more than he already was.

The funny thing about this class is that we are a group of individuals, most of us not knowing each other prior to the first day or class. However, today’s activitiy really got me thinking about how openess doesn’t have to begin in the traditional sense of surface level conversation(name, major, year, etc). Trough physical engagement I was able to get closer to an individual that I would never have approached. Also, it was odd to have to share a deep story to someone I have never talked to before.

Session 7

Exercise for fear: let the wild horse run in your mind, let it roam free. activities are different for each individual.
conversation for 1 min with self: why is it difficult to listen?
consumed in your own thoughts 
misunderstood what was said
external distractions 
how can you give when you arent included 
a lot of things on your mind 
dont relate to the topic
bees in the room 
other person says the same thing
Active listening is a skill that we as human beings really need.
When we are relaxed, our brains do 4 things — it comments on the existing, time travels, self referential pressing, social cognition
When your mind has gone, stare at the other person 
The judging mind: admit you don't know, ask questions
significant to me personally at CMU: occupation/ education, age, geography, citizenship, race 
having someone really listen: it is a tremendous skill 
Fishbowl conversation → listenings lead to conversations

Listening is truly a task worth mastering, but in order to master it, it will take much longer than you would thing. In order to master it well, you need to be conscious of the action and acknowledge the thoughts rummaging through your head. 
The ladder of inference was an interesting topic that we read. I think this ladder of inference truly exemplifies the meaning of person judgements/justification/experiences. From the bottom rung to the top, raw data is re-interpreted through our own lens. Our actions are based purely off our own perspective and this ladder example clearly demonstrates the flaw in miscommunication through self interpretation.

Session 8

world cafe- make it as cafe- like as possible, tables = regions of whiteboards

scale: discussion from small group to a larger one to the entire room

undiscussables: was it anonymous? were ppl willing to say these things?

weeds vs seeds: listening to making to listening

The interesting thing about this class is, honestly sometimes it feels like we are learning methodologies for learning how to facilitate conversation in terms of larger companies or team building. This class is quite different compared to the class that i took last mini, which seemed more like social innovation on the large scale. However, I find the activities we did in class today to be more exciting than anything. I love having discussions with classmates on the smaller scale, and would love to see how larger scale discussions carry out.

Session 9

shaking horse + becoming rooted: observations-feel grounded, make your feet the one that can ground u back in

feeling awkward? acknowledge it , name the little elephant in the room

“i have to do it right” is when youre thinking about yourself. but if its about the group, then you need to find the excitement for the group. its not about you as the facilitator. its about the group. sense the animal of the group. donnt go into the room shy and nervous. be clear. invite them in. do what you need to do in order to make sure that everyone that needs to be there is there.

next facilitation: help the group listen 
listen and reflect!

are we aligned? doing this for the same reason? have the sme big picture?

whats going on with each of us? and therefore, with the group as a whole


  1. great turning (SOCIAL SHIFT)
  2. social complexity
    cant change top down
    autopiesis (resistant to change) 
    system changes us and we change system
    Human complexity
  3. change models 
    state of individual change and needs
  4. creative process
    dubberly -listen,reflect,make
    SYSTEMIC (involve diversity) 
    PARTICIPATORY (who lives it, makes it)
  5. Listening 
    group scale
    warm ups
    world cafe
    5 questions
    System scale 
    -positive deviance 
    -past strategies
    -learning journey

not thing, service, product
relatedness, alignment, collaboration
these things are secondary (not a thing, service, product)
they come out of these things (relatedness, alignment, collab)

excevutive (authority), process (authority),content (authority)


we know less of how to do something the further up and further right

Session 10
April 19, 2017

Reflection is a stillness that is mastered only after time and time again of practice and endless thought. It’s been a while since I took the time to just sit and think while enjoying the outdoors especially with this season of booth. I sat and the first thing that hit me was the thought of booth. Then I shook that thought out of my head. I spent so long this past weekend outdoors because of booth, but I only really noticed the beauty of the outdoors during this 15 minutes that we had set aside to think. I never realized how fast paced my life really was. It’s incredible to just lay in the grass and look at the sky. It is truly an incredible feeling.
It’s funny how the methods of reflection were things that most people already have tried before or knew about. I think the key thing about reflection, it isn’t the methodology, but the effort to make the time. In order to reflect, we need to tell ourselves that no. I cannot be doing anything else right now. I need to reflect for 15 minutes. Clear my mind. This will get me reflecting a bit easier.

Session 11
April 24, 2017

listen reflect made, it’s not sep stages, but theyre all tangled together.

story 1- pie lab (
how did the pie lab begin? be bold- it started in alabama. wanted to bridge racial boundaries 
get out- go listen to 10 stories in different locations
think wrong- 
make stuff, bet small- everyone likes pie despite race, so maybe they will talk to each other 
years later- pecans! ppl tryna get GED turn a local product into a business (pecans) they sold it in the pie lab 
engagements and discover what cmes to life

story 2- Project H
bertie county, NC
move design inside the community 
student perception of themselves and their future was changed and the parents themselves

“if a system redesigns its future by redesigning itself” (?)

when you recognize the uncertainty, you recognize an opportunity for you to bring change

story 3- passport
what does it take to get there and what does it look like when you get there, what do you have to leave behind that you can take along the journey

make a passport to encourage IT staff to travel into the world of sales

pacing and slowly ramping up the difficulty is a beautiful thing

story 4- better block (jason roberts)
to make things happen, SHOW UP, name it,

dont be define by WHAT IS but by WHAT COULD BE

cynetin — discerning the complexity of the situation

what does it look like when people make together?

  1. listen/observe
  2. reflet
  3. make

A scenario: Someone wants to go on a trip with his friends (a mix of both males and females) for the weekend, but his parents are saying no. They are saying no because it isn’t acceptable in their family’s culture for someone to sleep with the opposite gender.
The protagonist is the boy who wants to go on a trip.
The antagonists are the parents who are refusing the protagonist.

Session 12

Hope is an embrace of the unknown.

From the theatre of the oppressed, we demonstrated exercises that carried a conversation about the roles we play. From becoming another person in a role interaction with another individual in the class, to doing theatre exercises, we looked at how/ who we are in society. One of the exercises had us mirroring the person in front of us as their hand was straight in the middle of our sight. When my partner controlled my movements, I noticed that I had no control over what I was thinking. I was so involved in just following her hand that I lost track of myself and a sense of my self being. To counter this, when we stood in lines I tried to have as much control possible even if my controller was doing something different from me.
1. My current internship state is on hold because of my citizenship status. The internship is in Korea, but I have a dual citizenship with Korea and America. This is illegal in Korea and I wouldn’t be able to get a work visa, which meant that I wouldn’t be able to intern this summer. I was upset and frustrated at my parents for not denouncing my Korean citizenship earlier. I took a step back and listened to my parents’ reasoning for not denouncing my citizenship earlier. It wasn’t because they were lazy since it would be a hassle, but because our family had residential land tied to our name that we would have to give up if we denounced our citizenship.

2. My grand big was upset at my big about something relating to a recent birthday and holiday. When I heard my grand big’s side, I was also upset at my big. Rather than just blaming it all on her, I asked my big for her side and afterword, both sides seemed to be at fault. I tried to actively listen in order to gain a better understanding.

3. My boyfriend was late to my final design show. Rather than being angry and upset like I usually would be, I decided to listen actively to what he had to say in order to avoid an argument. I found out that the reason he was late wasn’t because he didn’t care, but because he thought my show ran later than it did. He was misinformed and was late due to an assumption.

Session 13
May 1, 2017

I was sick today.

Session 14

This was our last class. Normally, I jot down little notes for myself in order to remember what the class activity was. But for today’s class, we all stepped away from our notebooks and laptops. The conversation that got me intrigued the most, was the one surrounding fear and talking ourselves up to face that fear. It was interesting to compare fear with the fear of the unknown and fear stemming from not knowing what the future holds. Kind of relating to this, when we did the three person exercise in which one person was the supporter, one was the negative thoughts, and one was yourself, it really helped visualize the internal struggle that everyone faces when our inner voices create a hurdle for ourselves. I think fear is related to this because of how fear plays with our inner voices. Fear can stem from external players such as other people, but fear is definitely influenced strongly by ourselves. We create barriers for our own goals and destinations because we are scared and we are our own biggest bullies. But I also learned that we can be our own biggest supporters.

Closing Thoughts
Coming into this class, I expected something a lot less “feely” and a lot more “design intervention-y”. Although it was nothing like I expected, I wasn’t disappointed by this class. From learning about oneself to learning about others, each class session brought me so much more insight about how to deal and cope with the unpredictable nature of humans. I think I have a better understanding of what social design is. Each session was combined with in person activities which supported the class reading/ material. This helped actually ingrain the lessons into my brain. Thank you for the opportunity to learn so much from your class.
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