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  • Writer's pictureSaranya Villavankothai

First Facilitation Workshop - UN Women

Reimagining the future of knowledge hub for the UN women in the mission to end violence against women.

Design Dream Lab collaborated with the UN Women on future of knowledge sharing platform with a particular focus on ending violence against women. It was a volunteer opportunity that was presented to me by a community builder, Lee Kim. I was in my learning journey and had barely any experience in Service Design or facilitation. However, I was ecstatic and nervous to be able to have this chance and wasn't about to let it go. I have always learned in my past that being prepared is more than half the battle.

Being Prepared

I started to make notes on how to be a better facilitator, what are things that can go wrong? What about technical issues? Let's start searching for any sort of checklists online. I'm not the only one that has prepared for a facilitator. I found that most of the things that was on there are things that I did already. I took a pause and thought about what facilitation is and this is a skill I have been practicing for most of my career. This gave a sense of calm for me. It's not new but what is new is to be able to facilitate for 40 UN women that will be on the call. I knew I had to get more information about what were these women going to go through. Lee provided us with the Miro board that will be set up for the workshop. The facilitators met for a prep meeting where we discussed ideas on how to structure the workshop and given the limited 90 minute time limit. We had to have our t's and i's dotted. Our first workshop included the regional and local representatives all around the world, we structured it to having explore current experiences, pain points, and desired experiences, and then shared with the rest of the team. We also ideated on future of content sharing and information. We identified 3-4 participants for collecting the stories that will go deeper into their current experience.

It was an amazing experience to run the facilitation workshop with these women that were boots on the ground making a difference. Hearing about their pain points really helped us synthesize and help us understand the value and impact that we could be creating. With our designer thinking hats, we gathered for an ideation session with designers from all over the world, we were put in breakout rooms to synthesize different ideas. But first, ice breakers - Collaboration killer monsters? These things used to make me so uncomfortable before but now it's become second nature. My collaboration killer monster was a blabber monster. We introduced ourselves to the teams and then were provided with briefs for each room. Our room had the brief of an user that has worked in gender equality for 25 years and was trying to create a level playing field for all those who are trying to end violence against women across the globe. How might we design a responsive knowledge hub that provides practical human support to design programs in real time? Our team started generating ideas and our prototype was a combination of artificial intelligence and a matching program like that of an ADP mentor list. We were able to identify that these experts with the knowledge need to be matched with the other women in less privileged countries. We wanted to use advanced machine learning technology to be able to provide the human experience.

We had an amazing ideation session, however, we still need to hone down on 1 prototype, which is scheduled for another ideation session this Saturday. Not only do we need to prepare for the workshops for the UN women, we need to prepare ourselves for the ideation session with the designers. I had the ability to be part of the brainstorming session for the ideation session. I'm usually the quiet one in the group when it's out of my comfort zone. However, I have learned that my ideas can be good too. I just need to have the confidence. I spoke up about the idea that I had and created a prototype of the workshop flow that we could possibly have to be able to generate ideas. To my surprise, Lee thought it was a great idea and ended up creating it for the rest of the workshop as well. And now, I have the chance to be able to lead one of the major themes this weekend. We came up with a flow to the structure of how to generate ideas for each of the major themes - match program ideation, travelling storyteller, and hub of practical experts.

Major learning: It doesn't matter if you are new or a senior to the workshops, mention your ideas. It could be a winner!

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