BIFnik Spotlight: Bryan Lakatos


We caught up with Bryan Lakatos, Director of Technology & Innovation at The Miami Valley School in Dayton, OH. In addition to being a two time BIFnik, Bryan attended our recent Action Collab Facilitator Training and shared how Big Ideas Fest has impacted his work since he attended his first Big Ideas Fest.


How did you first come to attend Big Ideas Fest?

It was my design colleague and friend, Ellen Deutscher, who initially introduced me to Big Ideas Fest (BIF) and ISKME. She told me about BIF during one of the weekly chat sessions of the Twitter community behind the #dtk12chat hashtag. It was really good timing, too: not only was I looking for the next step in my design thinking experience, it was the day before the deadline to apply for scholarships! Thanks to Ellen, I applied before the deadline and was fortunate to attend because of the generosity of ISKME and BIF. I still owe her for that one!

Tell us a story from Big Ideas Fest that exemplifies your experience there?

This one is tough! As I sit here thinking back to my two Big Ideas Fests (BIF), the number one thing that's running through my head is the generosity and support of everyone involved. People come to BIF wanting to collaborate, to learn to help folks solve problems, and to get advice with their own sticky situations. It's a safe space to go all in, and therefore there's some amazing design and connection going on.

I guess one particular experience that is indicative of this would be the Action Collab "master class" I was a part of last year with Jonah Houston (ISKME Board member and IDEO designer), as facilitator. To be in this Action Collab, you had to have attended BIF at least once before and apply to be a part of the group. Jonah - who is amazing in the way he can express the thought and reasoning behind the the Action Collab and design processes - was able to work us through a deep-dive into the parts of an Action Collab. He had a willing team of people who self-selected to be there and we could tell he was excited to geek out with us and share with us what makes design so special for him. Folks coming together to learn about design and make the world a better place together - that's BIF to me.

Can you provide some examples of how you have been using what you learned and experienced at Big Ideas Fest in your work?

I really appreciate that Big Ideas Fest (BIF) has given me much to reflect upon and put into practice. Overall themes of bringing creativity and openness to problem solving and working with others have informed my work on an almost daily basis. The tenets of improv have become my default guidelines in team meetings and in working with groups of students to help them kick their ideas up a notch. Lastly, the blocker/passenger/driver/generative chart is posted in conference rooms as a stimulus for both overt group and more subtle individual acknowledgement and reflection - I try to make sure I know what my expected role and personal tendency is going into something new.

How have these impacted your work?

I feel I've helped folks bring more innovation (which I'll define here as "applied creativity") to their work, which has in turn injected some excitement and novelty into work processes that could easily become time-tested drudgery otherwise. Openness to new program ideas and a little creative confidence can go a long way.

What are your future plans for your design thinking work?

I hope to soon branch out into the wider community and help people beyond the walls of the school where I work. For me, as I have learned more and more about design thinking, I've started seeing design challenges everywhere. I am very aware that I've become more empathetic and curious about the behind-the-scenes workings and motivations for things and I want to help others view their worlds and systems with this same enthusiastic optimism that I've found. Awesome case in point: I'm very excited to help facilitate Action Collabs at this year's Big Ideas Fest. I can't wait to see what challenges folks bring to the event and share what I can about this powerful problem solving approach.

Thank you, Bryan! Hear more from him on twitter at @BryanLakatos

August 09, 2016