Published: July 1, 2021

Editor's note: The workshop originally scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 11, was rescheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 18.

After taking a hiatus during the pandemic, Innovation Buffs is kicking off its third year later this month with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Innovation Buffs enables university staff members to team up with colleagues to identify problems and potential solutions. 

With support from Strategic Resources and Support (SRS), the four-month program will use human-centered design techniques to guide participants through a progressive process starting with idea generation. The program will culminate in November, when participants will pitch their ideas to campus leaders. 

In consultation with IDEA Council co-chairs Lisa Flores and Teresa Hernandez, the program will use IDEA Plan framing to consider problems and potential solutions. 

“We are bringing the human-centered design experience to our ideas in support of DEI work on campus,” said Kristen Alipit, director of organizational effectiveness and engagement in SRS’s Finance and Business Strategy unit. “Our hope is that staff will share a deep sense of empathy and understanding with each other at each step to concentrate on one of the university’s greatest challenges—how to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community.”

The human-centered design workshops, designed by Desklight Learning, seek to minimize risk through rapid prototyping and continuous iteration, and encourage an inclusive process that “gives people a voice in a unique way and really listens to the experiences of those who are most impacted” by injustice, inequity and discrimination in higher education and beyond.

“Using human-centered design is such a great way to navigate problems and incorporate a variety of perspectives into creating meaningful options to address the issues,” said Jasimine Evans, student services outreach and DEI lead with Career Services. “It’s exciting to see this opportunity being made available to CU Boulder staff.” 

Innovation Buffs participants will gain skills in human-centered design, how to pitch ideas for approval and in implementing new ideas. In addition, their collaborations will result in real solutions that have gone through a rigorous—and fun—process. After implementation, the university will measure progress by monitoring employee adoption and practice of human-centered design methods, Alipit said.

Registration is required and is now open for university staff members who wish to participate. Space is limited.

Workshop Schedule

  • July 28 — Fundamentals of human-centered design and initial problem statements
  • Aug. 18 — Human-centered design research plans
  • Sept. 1 — Finding opportunity in the data
  • Sept. 15 — Ideation and prototyping
  • Sept. 29 — Refinement and iteration
  • Oct. 13 — Piloting prototypes, tracking progress and impact
  • October 2021 — Optional sessions on pitching ideas and gap analysis
  • November 2021 — Final event: Team presentations for possible implementation
  • January 2022 — Innovation Buffs provides support for any team implementing an idea for the year