Apply for Catalyst 2019
Before proceeding with the application, please read the program overview and confirm your organization’s eligibility to apply for subsidized enrollment. If you don’t meet those criteria, we may still have space for your team on a fee basis. Please email us if you are interested.
What Makes a Strong Application?
Strong applications to the program will propose (1) a strong and highly engaged team, (2) committed leadership and resources, and (3) a compelling project.
We are looking for organizations to nominate leaders and frontline staff who are passionate “doers” to apply. We’ve found that teams of three are better able to support each other and thus are more likely to succeed than smaller teams.
Applicants should be positioned to drive change within their organizations or provide first-hand perspectives into the challenge at hand. Strong teams include a member(s) whose role and responsibilities will be directly impacted by the project, i.e. the person ultimately responsible for implementing the innovations. For example, if the project is likely to change a referral coordinator’s workflow, include an actual coordinator — not just the manager — on the team.
Ideal candidates will possess these qualities:
- Desire to not only develop your own design thinking skills, but also to share with colleagues how they can apply human-centered design methods to their work.
- Experience cultivating relationships and public will building.
- Curious, resourceful, and unafraid to question the status quo.
- Positive attitude, with a predisposition toward action.
- Openness to practicing visual communication methods.
Committed Leadership and Resources
You must also have direct support from your manager to apply human-centered design to an organizational challenge. The team sponsor should be fully on board and excited by the prospect of trying a new approach. The sponsor must also confirm that the team has 15 percent protected work time over six months to dedicate to the project and program activities.
Compelling Project Challenge
What exactly is a “project challenge”? It may be an emerging, complex issue your organization is facing, or a recurring pain point in the client experience that has yet to be resolved. Your team will be tasked with revisiting and further refining your project focus during the first phase of the program. We ask that you work closely with your sponsor and leadership to ensure that the project you propose is strategically relevant and reasonably scoped for the program.
A compelling project challenge meets the following criteria:
- Unsolved: Your organization has not decided to pursue a certain solution or approach to address the challenge. You are open to an array of possible solutions.
- Aligned with the organization’s strategic priorities: Your project challenge is connected to an existing strategic priority that is important to the organization.
- Small to medium in scope: Given the short timeframe, we do not want you to work on challenges that are too broad or are outside the authority of team members. Instead we encourage teams to consider tackling an element of a larger project. A challenge like reducing food insecurity is too broad and vague; finding fun ways for students to snack healthier after school is better.
- Not on a tight deadline: The design thinking process has a longer upfront timeline, because we don’t jump to a solution. Do not pick a strategic project that is so pressing you need to have an answer before June 2019. Pick a project area in which you can spend a few months conducting ethnographic research, reflecting, and synthesizing what you are learning to refine and reframe your focus.
You can see examples of past Catalyst projects here. In past cycles, project challenges have included:
How might we…
…create an environment that leaves clients feeling unashamed to seek out counseling services?
…show our colleagues that we appreciate their “unnoticed” work?
…create a welcoming and safe environment for families entering our facility?
…help patients feel prepared to transition back into primary care after intensive outpatient care?
Please do not propose a solution, approach, or plan that you hope to implement during this program. We want Catalysts and their sponsors to come in with open minds so that your team can really think expansively about the project.
HOW TO APPLY
Step 1: Attend Informational Webinar (Optional)
Interested organizations are encouraged to review the slides and recording from the informational webinar to hear a program overview and ask questions.
Step 2: Apply
Applicant teams apply via the online form below. Your proposal must be submitted online by Friday, November 16, 2018, at 5 pm Pacific Time. The program cohort will be announced by Friday, January 11, 2019.
Apply for Catalyst 2019
Upon reviewing applications, we may ask for follow-up information or a phone call with the applicant team members. We intend to select 15 strong teams for the program. The cohort will be announced via email by Friday, January 11, 2019.