Going from 10 improvement ideas to 5

Over the past few months we have been busy working hard on Moving on Mental Health in Dufferin Wellington. Stakeholders (providers, leaders, parents and related social services) have been coming together to turn our insights into actions. We have been using a human-centred design process to guide this work.

In June and July we spent time together thinking about how we might improve services and experiences for children, youth and families. We all know there are a ton of things we can do better, which makes it hard to find a place to start. Thankfully the design process helped us focus on what matters to stakeholders and lead us to coming up with 10 high level ideas how we might improve:

We then used a process that forced us to really think about each idea in more detail. We identified:

  • The problem each idea was trying to solve
  • How the idea might improve things
  • How we’ll measure improvements
  • Added more details around what the idea might actually look like
  • Figured out possible ways we might actually test it

This process reminded me a lot of my grade 6 science experiment, minus the static electricity. We came up with a hypothesis, a way to measure our hypothesis, and a method to test it. It was actually far more rigid than I expected, and certainly made me think critically about each idea.

We had some great debates and conversations among the prototyping team which led us to combine and extend several of the initial ideas. We documented everything as we went so that anyone can understand our thinking at the time. We drew sketches of the ideas to help communicate them to others. We also came up with proto-personas (short for prototype personas), a representation of a stakeholder we might want to test the idea with.

We then took a step back and looked at what we had. We landed on 5 ideas that we thought we could move forward with testing in the time that we have. We put 3 in the parking lot for later to be sure we don’t forget about them even if we can’t do them right now. Here’s how all of that looks:

This is a snapshot of where we're at right now. We’re in the process of refining these ideas and packaging it all up in a way that supports the Moving on Mental Health Steering Committee in making decisions about where we should go from here. The Steering Committee will consider what impact these different ideas could have on our children’s/youth mental health system in Dufferin Wellington, and which one or two ideas have the greatest potential to improve the experiences of children, youth and the people who care for them when they need to approach an organization for a service or support. 

Once we've chosen one or two ideas, we’ll work with stakeholders to build them quickly and cheaply, and then take them out for feedback. This lets us know if we’re on the right track without spending a lot of time or money making sure the idea is ‘perfect’. It also allows us to quickly change the ideas and adapt them based on real feedback from our stakeholders. It should be a fun and eye-opening experience! We’ll keep you updated on the blog as we go.