Connecting Steps

This Entry has been submitted.

Connecting Steps

Vancouver, CanadaVancouver, Canada
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Design-thinking workshops for non-profits, activists and social entrepreneurs. Empowering people to find new solutions to existing challenges.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In 2003, there were approximately 161,000 incorporated non-profit and voluntary organizations operating in Canada. An estimated 13% of which were established in British Columbia. These organizations touch all aspects of our life and have become a fundamental part of Canadian society. Unfortunately, non-profit and voluntary organizations experience many difficulties fulfilling their missions or achieving their organizational objectives, which limits their ability to contribute to the community. Having to manage with limited economic resources is challenging enough, but usually it is the lack of strategic orientation, leadership and management struggles what stands in their way towards establishing a plan and generating ideas on how to reach their goals.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Connecting Steps is a series of dynamic workshops for non-profits, activists and social entrepreneurs that uses the design-thinking and co-design framework to empower them in the development of better solutions to social problems. Connecting steps looks to empower those involved to create a meaningful change through their own effort, ideas and concepts. Participants engage in activities to accelerate meaningful collaboration and learn the skills, tools and techniques that they need in order to tackle the complex problems that affect them. The project seeks to generate a ripple effect, where workshop participants will multiply the benefit of building their creative confidence by effectively pursuing their organization's objectives and fulfilling their community's needs.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

“Teach a person to fish…. “ The Connecting Steps hands-on interactive workshops will introduce the framework around design thinking and co-design as creative problem solving approaches. Design-thinking uses the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context. Co-design emphasizes the collaborative work, which requires mutual learning between the stakeholders, creating a process that is more democratic and open. During the workshop, participants will learn tools and techniques in the areas of discovery, definition, visualization, ideation, experimentation and implementation, and immediately apply them to the problems faced by their own organizations. The collaborative approach allows everyone to learn not only from the instructor but also from every participant in the workshop. After the workshop the instructor will continue with a follow-up which each of the participants to aid them in the application of the skills they have learned. The Connecting Steps website and social media strategy will also allow for participants to stay in touch and learn from each others progress as they apply the concepts learned to their own organizations.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

While there are a few organizations that offer design thinking services, they are mostly focused on business innovation and don’t specialize in the small non-profit groups. Connecting Steps is particularly interested in the small and medium organizations that don't have a marketing or communications department. There is currently no one addressing this market, and there is a huge need and demand for this type of service.

Founding Story

I have over ten years of teaching experience in the areas of design, marketing and creativity, working as a professor in Mexico and Canada. In 2011 I started to work with the international NGO Poster for Tomorrow and had the opportunity to travel to Africa as part of their Pan African and Draw me Democracy workshops, which aim to strengthen participants’ knowledge and skills in the fields of design, social communication and advocacy advertising. This provided me with the opportunity to see the amazing benefits that could be achieved in a small amount of time. For my PhD at the University of Victoria I decided to focus on co-design and design-thinking. I was looking for a project to collaborate with and posted an ad asking for any non-profits that would like to work with me. I received an overwhelming response with emails from all kinds of organizations eager to receive help. After talking to many of them I realized that there was a huge need that nobody was addressing.