OpenIDEO NYC Chapter is a community that aims to trigger and nurture collaboration between passionate design thinkers and mindful social innovators in order to tackle complex social issues. In May and June 2016 we organized, two workshops (research and ideation) for the End of Life Challenge. Lee Kim joined us for the second workshop: it was her first time participating to an OpenIDEO NYC Chapter meetup, but not the last time - far from this! During the whole summer 2016, she took the lead to running prototyping workshops in NY (our co-organizers Bettina Fliegel attended many of them). After the summer, the story continued and it's not finished! We wanted to share with you Lee's experience and tell you more about this inspiring impact story.
The unplanned journey that brought unexpected collaboration - The end of Life Project
by Lee Kim
On one summer evening in 2016, I made a trip to NYU’s downtown Brooklyn campus to attend my first OpenIDEO NY Chapter meetup. I didn’t know whom I was going to meet, what I was going to work on, or what this meeting was all about. All I knew was this meetup was about application of design thinking methodology to reimagine the end of life care. It was an ideation night. We created imaginary personas for “the end of life” project.
The meeting was short, but at the end of the night, I couldn’t wait to get to the next phase- prototyping. Over the next two months, I participated in the empathy interviews, led several prototyping sessions, and three testing sessions at Mt. Sinai’s palliative care unit. OpenIDEO NY Chapter team’s submission made to the final stage, but unfortunately didn’t get selected as one of the winning projects.
What a wonderful summer it was! We met almost every week to build and test and to connect with each other. It was also the first time I got to work with those who are dealing with “the end of life” – doctors, nurses, and caregivers. I felt the need to stay connected to those who are working in this space. So I wrote an email to Dr. Sarah Norris who came to that first ideation night meetup and became one of the users for the prototypes we designed. I expressed my sincere desire to stay connected to her world and find ways to bring value to the work she was doing.
In March 2017, with Dr. Norris’ input and assistance, I was able to conduct empathy interviews with three patients who were at different stages of their chemo therapy. One of them passed away three weeks after our conversation. I still remember the chair she was sitting in and her father who was sitting across from her.
Our journey through “Reimagining the end of life care” was not a straight path. There were so many unknowns, so many tears, so many frustrated days, but all along, Dr. Norris and I learned to embrace the nature of the wicked problems that we were dealing with. We learned to pivot. We learned to trust on each other’s intentions and desire to bring empathy and care to the path that we are uncovering and also paving.
Towards the end of the year, we held two workshops at The Children’s Hospital At Montefiore (CHAM) to share stories and to define the users for whom we want to design the experiences. About twelve participants consisting of physicians, nurses, social workers, and caregivers participated in these workshops. We cried. We laughed. We connected with each other at a deeply personal way.
As we open the story book for CHAM 2018, I am truly excited about the unknown road we will be traveling and the collaborative spirit that we have built together.