Before the BLI Capstone Bootcamp our idea of 3 Degrees was to change the culture of sustainability for the city of Ann Arbor. This idea consisted of socially, spreading the idea of sustainability to the students of Michigan, economically lowering the prices of sustainable goods using a Group Purchasing Organization model in order to incentivize sustainable businesses and student orgs, and environmentally producing an overall more sustainable city.
Throughout and following the BLI Capstone Bootcamp our idea has not changed but has rather evolved. While our mission is to still change the culture of sustainability we have realized that we may be spreading ourselves too thin and did not have tangible and actionable steps to solving this sustainability issue. Due to this realization, we have used the A3 method produced by the bootcamp in order to elaborate on our future steps to create sub-A3s tackling each idea we had. For example, we have created sub A3s on our GPO model for businesses, Greek life, and further education modules for Michigan students.
Overall, I believe I learned a lot from the Bootcamp. More specifically, I’ve learned to ask questions that I would have never thought to have asked, I’ve learned how to effectively conduct research in order to further our project, and I’ve learned that having others review your work and critic it is always a positive thing.
One of the most tangible ways BLI has impacted our project is simply the shift of our project’s vision. At first, our project’s goal was to change the culture of sustainability of Ann Arbor through 4 different initiatives. Although we knew what we wanted to be accomplished by each of the four initiatives, we never sat down and wrote down who exactly would be responsible for what parts down the timeline. Previously, every week we just thought of the next steps to do based on prior work. But we never mapped out the timeline as to what needs to be done from now to reach our end goal. This not only creates a more tangible vision that motivates us but helps us plans our steps proactively and intentionally while looking at the big picture, rather than doing what simply comes to mind as weeks go by. It also allowed us to think more critically about what we wanted to do and the order we wanted to them in. The importance of doing this becomes abundantly clear to us during BLI, especially since we have 4 different initiatives going on.
Internally, BLI has also allowed us to think more critically about our assumption, along with arming us with the tools needed to collect data to validate, adjust, or disprove these assumptions. We are now taking a step back and looking through our initial ideas to figure our where our leaps in logic were, what aspects, and what stakeholders require more exploring. And now we are elongating our research phase before so eagerly going into implementation. And we are even treating our beginning implementation phases more as a pilot test with a high value in collecting data and learning. Learning and receiving feedback has become a bigger focus of our project throughout BLI, along with being able to integrate this even through project implementation to ensure we are constantly in the mindset of seeking ways to improve.
My personal highlight was making our A3 because it was the moment where I realized that the thought process of our team and our project itself changed drastically. Putting our new thoughts to paper, getting feedback on it, and comparing it our original plan showed how much BLI has shaped our project.
Before Bootcamp, 3 Degrees was a sustainability initiative that aimed to target Greek Life and local Ann Arbor businesses. We have also considered branching out to more on-campus activities following the program. One example is our interest in working with SIFT, another capstone team, in a future sustainability fashion show.
One of the biggest lessons I learned during Bootcamp surrounded the idea of success. We spent plenty of time discussing how we defined and measured success, both individually and as a team. This opened us up to important conversations that we otherwise may have not had. Having this insight will also benefit us in the future when we are reporting our growth to potential business partners that ask to see it.
Another takeaway that I value is in going to greater lengths in cross-checking information. It is feasible to introduce the pain points of any project after multiple “pitches”, however, being asked to explain why we knew this information and where we obtained it from allowed us to set aside time to consider areas that needed more data or words from the people that are affected.
What was your project idea before Bootcamp?
3 Degrees wanted to use a GPO model to aggregate demand for compostable products and bring the price down to a point lesser than or equal to plastic products. We wanted to target Greek Life and local Ann Arbor restaurants.
How did your idea change/evolve over the course of Bootcamp?
Our main idea remained the same but we began to consider the following things:
- Even if we get the price down, will stakeholders want to use our products? Consider aesthetics, costs of composting, and risk of contamination.
- Structured timeline of events. We want to start from greek life as a proof of concept before moving on to other organizations.
- We built a relationship with the other capstone team SIFT and are not partnering with SHEI to host a sustainable fashion show in Winter 2021.
Describe some things you learned / personal highlights of Bootcamp.
- I enjoyed getting to know the cohort. The icebreakers were helpful and cross-sectional teams were important.
- We were able to build relationships with sustainable organizations like SIFT and non-profits like Blueprints for Pangea. We are also trying to become a non-profit.
- A3 sheet clarified our main objectives and allowed us to evaluate any loopholes in our plan. Brainstorming with third parties provided valuable feedback on our approach.