Researcher, Producer, Organizer

Design Research

I facilitate collaborative learning experiences that contextualize local insights into actionable programs, products, and services.

 
 

Design Research Portfolio

 
 
 

All that you touch, you Change.
All that you Change, Changes you.
The only lasting truth is Change.
God is Change.

—Octavia E. Butler

 
 

 
Chris has a particularly perceptive skill at drawing out data that strategically matters to a client. Then, he responds with an applicable tool or resource that helps achieve their desired impact.
— Marc Langlois, PhD, Evaluator, Facilitator and Author of "A Practitioner's Guide to Developmental Evaluation"


YSI rock in hands.jpg

YSI Collaborative: Community-driven branding for culture-shifting leadership

(1.) Branding & Enterprise Development
2013 – 2015

A youth-serving mentorship network reinvents its brand while reimagining its value proposition as a 21st-century social enterprise by and for young people.

Photo credit: Fatin Chowdhury, www.fatinchowdhury.ca

Photo credit: Fatin Chowdhury, www.fatinchowdhury.ca

The 4Rs Youth Movement: Breakthrough practices for cross-cultural dialogue

(2.) Program Design & Evaluation
2015 – 2016

A high-stakes national partnership experiments with breakthrough practices in Reconciliation and cross-cultural dialogue for Canada’s next 150 years.

Enriches cover photo.jpg

ENRICHES Collective Impact: Inter-agency partnerships that care for the caregivers

(3.) Coaching in Service Design Research
2016 – 2017

An innovative, multi-agency partnership learns from senior caregivers about how to generate, implement & scale community-level approaches that reduce social isolation.


 

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The Mission

(1.)
Re-imagining YSI’s network for culture change

They initially wanted:
A new website + revamped social presence + ‘communications platform,’ with a fuzzy urge for ‘tech tools’

The focused design challenge:
How might we re-brand and re-imagine a volunteer-driven mentorship network so that young people feel affirmed and enabled as the leaders best equipped to support their peers?

Umm… Can a community even have a brand?


(2.)
Prototyping a reconciliation curriculum with 4Rs

They initially wanted:
“Show us the evidence of impact” from two pilot trainings + demonstrate what works (and doesn’t)

The focused design challenge:
What are the key outcomes and practices that will enable cross-cultural dialogue so that Indigenous young people are at the centre of ‘Reconciliation’ efforts and non-Indigenous youth can learn how to build respectful relationships of support?

Case study coming soon.


(3.)
Scaling community-level care with ENRICHES

They initially wanted:
Embed feedback loops that generate real-time data to inform strategy” + “record the developmental storyline”

The focused design challenge:
What collaborative practices and outcomes are needed to coordinate care between diverse agencies so that they can support senior caregivers who are under-served by the social safety net?


 

The Methods

(1.)
Branding & enterprise development with YSI

Semi-structured interviews: Developing 5 Lean UX personas – to understand pains and gains of a diverse and changing membership

Prototyping content, structure, strategies: Analyzing past engagement – to iterate web usability/ architecture and test emerging strategies (e.g. Facebook take-overs)

Min specs: facilitating storytelling and design principles — to help scale-up YSI’s ‘secret sauce’ for supporting youth-led community work


(2.)
Program design & evaluation with 4Rs

Participant observation: Being a co-designer of  the trainings + including qualitative self-report data into the flow of the event

Semi-structured interviews: interviewing training participants on “outcome stories” from trainings + coaching staff to do the same + facilitating key insights and themes with staff

Strategic planning and design support: Facilitating strategy retreat with steering committee to establish priorities from pilot data + contributing the participant’s voices and insights to the curriculum


(3.)
Coaching in design research with ENRICHES

Led coaching sessions with the Canadian Mental Health Association, one of six agencies in the collaborative

—As part of a team of 5 evaluators, shared data and emergent themes/ insights across all collaborative activities

Led affinity diagramming on evaluation insights: narrowing many broad, undefined outcomes into a focused set of collaborative experiments in community-agency partnerships


 

Our Impacts


(1.)
Culture-shifting leadership with YSI

—An web presence that embraced the playful had-to-be-there energy of the network

—Evidence-based practices for community-driven branding that shared authentic stories from many voices

—An influential ‘learning document’ that built credibility with our current (and future) funders 

—Three “positive and possible” scenarios for the network that are coming to fruition 4+ years later through the Young Leaders Circle

—Two successive long-term grants worth ~$500K for the Young Leaders Circle to deepen its cooperative business model


(2.)
Respect for Indigenous leaders through 4Rs

—Identified evidence-informed program outcomes

—Facilitated a simplified theory of change with an aligned working group structure

—Developed new organizational strategies with a national learning community based on some of the storytelling practices I introduced


(3.)
Care for the caregivers from ENRICHES

—Innovative strategies at the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario (CMHA) for creating partnerships with program users and peer agencies

—Simplified theory of change connecting priority outcomes to specific emerging experiments in partnership building

—Self-assessment and reflection tools for building intentional partnerships around priority outcomes


 

What we created together


(1.)
Community-driven branding with YSI

/ Website, logo & brand identity.
/ “The modern bonfire”—
ysicollaborative.org
/ Project lead and facilitator-designer

Built and animated with contributions across the provincial network, which fuelled member-driven engagement and led to more youth in paid leadership positions.

More significant than a website was the social spin-offs it enabled online, and especially off. Our existing culture of inclusive gatherings became our brand, which fuelled the growth of our culture with new members in turn.

We seeded a website that affirmed volunteers in their contributions to social justice and culture change, and encouraged others to come out in person. By creating a videos, photos and social media touch-points around the feeling of a “modern bonfire,” we piqued the interest and motivation of our diverse audience of community leaders to show up. As attendance at YSI’s in-person gatherings increased, we supported members to hone their own storytelling through platforms of their creation, like youngelders.tumblr.com/.

——

/ An influential ‘learning document’ for funders.
/ “Adventures in Nest Building (Or, How to support place-based youth-organizing)”
/ Facilitator, story-gatherer and Co-author

Gathered stories and facilitated design principles that summed up YSI’s radically inclusive model for ‘scaling’ community development.

By connecting first-person change stories to the “minimum specifications” for our model, this document gave YSI the credibility they needed to build new partnerships (including with funders) to expand their efforts across Ontario. Almost 3 years later, this growth and development is still flourishing.


(2.)
A compass for reciprocal dialogue with 4Rs

/ An evidence-based curriculum framework.
/ “Seeding Reconciliation on Uneven Ground:
The 4Rs Approach to Cross-Cultural Dialogue”

/ Evaluator, story-gatherer and co-author

Co-designed with deep collaboration, which laid the groundwork for scaling up initiatives in training and storytelling—from two staff to five.

This curriculum document was a deeply collaborative learning experience that enabled 4Rs to launch an innovative national initiative, including experiential trainings and public storytelling. Together, 4Rs continues to disrupt and rebalance the slanted mainstream narrative around reconciliation from the pedestal of ‘Canada 150’ celebrations. 

——

Partners of the 4Rs Youth Movement included: The National Association of Friendship Centres, The Assembly of First Nations, The Native Women’s Association of Canada, Indigenous People’s Assembly of Canada, The Métis Nation British Columbia, YMCA National, YWCA National, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada, Boys and Girls Club of Canada, Pathways to Education, The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada, The Inspirit Foundation, and The Counselling Foundation of Canada.

Learn more at http://4rsyouth.ca/.


(3.)
Tools for community partnership with ENRICHES

/ An evidence-based compendium for self-evaluation.
/
”A Mosaic of Resources and Tools
for the ENRICHES Collaborative”
/ Co-author and evaluator

Synthesized the pilot learnings from our 10-month coaching process, which provided funders and other grant recipients across the country with a roadmap for inter-agency collaboration.

This document was a culmination and synthesis of our 10-month coaching process between a team of 4 fellow evaluators and social innovation consultants.

Because this was a pilot project for a major federal funding envelope, the project managing organization has affirmed that the lessons here fuelled learning and innovation across the country.

——

/ An interim report from CMHA, my client organization.
/
Caregivers living life to the full: May 2017”
/
Coach from the sidelines

Outlined experience from the Canadian Mental Health Association (Ontario), who were my client organization that I coached within the wider partnership.

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Partners of the Enriches included: Employment and Social Development Canada funder); Innoweave (Project Managers); and the implementing partners we supported: The Alzheimer Society of Toronto, the Canadian Mental Health Association (Ontario Division), North York Community House, WoodGreen Community Services, Sinai Health System’s Reitman Centre and Sinai Health System Foundation.

Learn more here.


 

Do you see your work in mine?