leyla acaroglu unschool founder

We started off Day 5 in the super slick Barco Art Gallery, where Leyla jumped straight into a session on theories of change, cognitive biases and the Disruptive Design method, which is a 3-part iterative process involving:

  1. Mining (problem loving)

  2. Landscaping (systems mapping)

  3. Building (ideation & intervention)

Sounds a bit like a construction process right? It makes sense when you’re trying to design, or in our case disruptively design.

Leyla shared her “do” philosophy -- as in “just fucking do it” (unless it’s going to kill somebody, she muttered under her breath, “in which case don't do it”). She also stressed that “every problem holds its own solution” and if you spend enough time with the problem (loving the problem) you can discover that.

Leyla explaining the Disruptive Design Method

Leyla explaining the Disruptive Design Method

Leyla went into a session about ‘Making Change,’ which began with a conversation on what change is. It turns out change is not so easy to define! Fellows then broke out into pairs and dove deep into one-on-one discussions to unpack the problems of their choosing using various systems mapping tools.

UnSchool Fellows

One of our fellows had a major breakthrough about one of her previous projects using the tool (which we loved seeing because that’s one of the primary objectives of the program)!

unschool fellowship systems thinking workshops

Just as our brains were going to explode we moved onto a quick session on cognitive biases. We learned a bit of neuroscience, explored the fight or flight response, and Leyla revealed one of her greatest fears (SPIDERS!).

We then went into the theory of change, followed by ideation and prototyping. Talk about a transdisciplinary rollercoaster!

To close out our brain-filling morning session, we played an empathy building game that Leyla designed as part of her gender equity research.

unschool of disruptive design programs for emerging leaders

After a quick bite to eat, Larisa, who runs the Barco Art space, introduced us to the space. Barco Art is a cultural centre that allows for cross-pollination between actors, painters and other artists. With artwork changing weekly people come back frequently and there’s always something new to see!

After getting the lowdown on the space, we started a mentor session with the epic Garance Choko, a strategist, participatory designer and the founder of Coda, a global network of grassroots problem solvers who exchange “How To’s” across continents. Garance talked to the fellows  about what they have learned so far and what they are still looking to learn. One fellow, Gulie, shared that she is “learning to say what she thinks and not what she knows.” With a pulse on where fellows are at, Garance began a session focused on building social and economic systems.

Garance Chocko engages the fellows in her participatory design practice

Garance Chocko engages the fellows in her participatory design practice

Garance also spoke about all the different hats she wears within park design, health care systems in the UK, and global network building. She works at the intersection of public administration and innovation feels there is a constant tension between work and life. Garance then explained how she uses her unique skillset to intervene in systems (for example, capacity building in the Democratic Republic of Congo).

Garance Chocko UnSchool Mentor

Next, we jumped into a workshop session so that our fellows could embed their morning learnings. The fellows spoke about projects and / or programs they are currently working on and came up with main themes around how they could connect these ideas together. Fellows regrouped based on their key themes and new groups went through a process of clarifying their common issues, looking at the root causes, and “pushing through the froth.”

Garance Chocko UnSchool Mentor

After understanding the root causes, fellows mapped the key stakeholders who are impacted by or are impacting the root issues. This helped everyone get a systemic view of their selected issue.

unschool adveture fellowships

We then took the fellows outside where they were greeted with a pop-up mini street party bar. As we were winding down over some afternoon drinks, the fellows were presented with their design challenge. This cohort’s challenge is in partnership with Transparency International….Stay tuned to see how our fellows go and what they come up with in the next 24 hours! The clock is ticking and the countdown is on.