Operationalizing Creativity

Cadets Explore Design-Centered Approaches to Veterans Services

The West Point / US Army team poses with Commissioner Sutton and Venkat Motupalli of NYC Veterans

In August 2017, my firm, Foossa, had the honor of collaborating with a group of West Point cadets, faculty, and staff.

Together, we partnered with NYC Veterans (The New York City Department of Veterans Services — “DVS”) to better understand ways to address the challenges faced by people in the military transitioning back to civilian life in the City.

This video is a teaser of our shared journey of research, discovery, and creative problem-solving:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_7j8dE9Vbk

We kicked off with two intensive days up at West Point, where David Colby Reed and I facilitated workshops on creative problem-solving through design thinking.

We shared about Foossa’s approach to community-centered design and demonstrated the importance of starting with an empathetic understanding of people, relationships, and social context. We also explored ways to think with our hands to develop creative concepts through low-fidelity rapid prototyping.

West Point cadets, faculty, staff practice rapid-prototyping techniques to bring design concepts to life.

After our introduction to design-centered problem-solving techniques, the cadets received a briefing from Venkat Motupalli of NYC DVS, who shared about the challenges and opportunities related to identifying veterans’ needs and to educating social service providers about those needs.

Learning about servant leadership and the importance of speed from Claude Silver of VaynerMedia

The course continued in New York City, where the cadet team interviewed veterans and service providers to better understand the challenges of transitioning back to civilian life.

Learning about the strength of weak social ties for career development at LinkedIn

We also visited a range of organizations including frog design, SYPartners, The New School, and VaynerMedia to learn about their approaches to strategy, design, creative problem-solving, and storytelling. The cadets applied what they learned from these visits to the NYC Veterans challenge.

Synthesizing and refining our insights at the Parsons Transdisciplinary Design Studio at The New School
Commissioner Sutton and Venkat give feedback to the West Point team’s presentation

Stay tuned for additional documentation and reflections!

Update: August 31, 2017. Here is an article about our experience in Pointer View, the West Point newspaper:

AIAD yields surprising insights for cadets, helps veterans
Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria recently addressed West Point cadets and faculty about the importance of a broad liberal education. Days earlier, six cadets returned from their culminating summer term event, a 10-day academic immersion experience centered on design thinking.