Rapid Inclusive Decision-Making Jam™

The Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (COIE) piloted their Rapid Inclusive Decision-Making Jam at the “Centennial Innovates 2023” Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Symposium on Friday June 2nd, 2023.

The 1-hour interactive activity saw participation from over 120 attendees, who all successfully brainstormed positives, challenges, opportunities, and solutions within the allotted time period. 17 groups put on their innovation caps and innovated diverse solutions addressing the multifaceted dimensions of student health and wellbeing on campus including financial security such as no-interest student loans and increasing on-campus job opportunities for international students; food security such as discounted grocery programs and increased community garden engagement; community belonging such as enhanced personal development supports, regular social opportunities and programming, a host family network for international students; and others such as regular shuttle bus service and multi-use infrastructure.

About the Rapid Inclusive Decision-Making Jam:

The Rapid Inclusive Decision-Making Jam™ is a method to rapidly make team decisions while ensuring consideration of diverse ideas and opinions of all participants. It ensures:

  • team decisions in a predetermined time
  • consideration of diverse ideas from each participant, and
  • equal say in decision-making for all participants

Inclusive teamwork is one of the most essential ingredients for achieving great results in any organization. Rapid inclusive decision-making has been tried and tested by many organizations, and the results have been impressive. For example, inclusive decision-making activates diversity to improve innovation, engagement, collaboration and results. The process creates an environment where diverse voices are heard and valued, and where decisions are made collaboratively and transparently. This participatory process fosters a sense of ownership and buy-in from participants, enhancing the quality and legitimacy of decisions. By including diverse perspectives, potential blind spots and biases that might be present in decision-making processes are minimized.

The COIE team experimented with this approach and were pleasantly surprised by the outcome, finding that it not only helped achieve better results but also enabled teams to tap into the expertise and experience of every team member in just under an hour. By working individually towards a common goal, each team member is able to bring their unique perspective to the table, leading to more creative solutions and improved outcomes that solve complex challenges.

The topic for the pilot Jam was improving student health and wellbeing. Teams were divided by tables typically of 5-10 people, and were encouraged to think outside the box and consider the different facets of the topic, including physical health, mental health, stress and burnout, food and nutrition, education quality and access, connections and relationships, environmental quality, living and accommodation, finances, personal and skills development, substance use, job and career readiness and more.

Keeping in line with the Symposium’s theme on sustainable innovation, the materials used were intentionally procured to promote a more sustainable way of life, such as compostable bags, sticky notes made from 100% recycled paper, and eco-friendly voting dot stickers made of rice paper. It’s a small step towards reducing our ecological footprint but we believe changes like these can collectively make a significant difference in conserving resources and protecting the environment for future generations.

Participants navigated through a series of 10 steps:

  • Step 1: What’s Moving Us Forward?
  • Step 2: Identify the Problems
  • Step 3: Prioritize Problems
  • Step 4: Select Your Top Problem
  • Step 5: Reframe Problem as “How Might We” Statement
  • Step 6: Select Your Top “How Might We” Question
  • Step 7: Generate 3-5 Solutions
  • Step 8: Prioritize Solutions
  • Step 9: Submit Your Solution
  • Step 10: Final Live Polling

Jam Outcomes

The pilot Rapid Inclusive Decision-Making Jam™ was highly successful. Over 120 attendees across 17 groups actively engaged to innovate 19 final solutions spanning diverse facets of student health and wellbeing, with 90 voters engaged in the final live polling, casting 153 votes. The winning solution called for increased programming such as games and events to encourage more social interaction amongst students in a fun, caring environment, ultimately fostering a better learning environment and an improved work-life balance.

Below are the teams’ submissions for the “How Might We” statement, their final solutions, and the final tally of audience votes:

#Team SubmissionsVotes
1How Might We increase financial support for students in order to promote focus on studying and learning during the course, instead of working extra hours to pay for the tuition? 
Proposed solution: Offer no interest loans / installments to students
2How Might We offer affordable living conditions with food plans and transportation to all students?
Proposed solutions:
– Offer meal plans for students.
– Open part-time roles in industries and make them job ready. (Increase Income).
– Special discount on daily groceries.
3How Might We make freshers/newcomers job ready?
Proposed solutions:
– Open part-time roles in industries and make them job ready.
– Check job requirements and train students to fulfill skill gap.
4How Might We address the social determinants of health to support student and community health and well-being?
Proposed solutions:
– Expand student-led community garden with resources and curriculum to teach food security and well-being and to feed students.
– Create a credit course (consider to make it mandatory).
5How Might We provide low cost housing for students to help with cost of living stresses?
Proposed solution: Develop mandatory multi-use regulations for all new developments. This includes storefront on ground floor, shared office space, low income housing and family units.
6How Might We provide affordable healthy food options for students?
Proposed solution: Produce/grow and source plant based or sustainable options that are prepared through the culinary department – the restaurant or a marketplace which could be subsidized through college/government/industry partners.
7How Might We create better schedules so that students and faculty have more/better time for rest/relaxation time with family?
Proposed Solution: Eliminate 6:30 pm – 10:40pm class time.
8How Might We be more supportive of students to improve their mental health?
Proposed solution: Promote students’ sense of belonging on campus.
9How Might We provide options for affordable housing for students to reduce student debt and improve their overall well-being?
Proposed solution: Free public education funded by government, and industry.
10How Might We decrease the international tuition fees for students in order to have a better lifestyle?
Proposed solution: More on-campus job opportunities for international students.
11How Might We reduce cultural stigma in order to feel welcome in their learning be environment?
Proposed solution: Ask and listen to what students want.
12How Might We increase access to different students faculty to more students and more accessible?
Proposed solution: Need more DP Support for the faculty.

How Might We support Students & Faculty to have close conversations and relationships?

Proposed solution: Connect with students via newer ways. Educate faculty to have a continuous teaching and support mindset. More personal development support.
13How Might We better support students who are juggling multiple responsibilities (school, work, family) so they can thrive personally and professionally?
Proposed solution: Offer more financial aid, bursaries and waive tuition for students.
14How Might We make tuition and study materials more affordable for students to reduce financial stress and promote access to education?
Proposed solution: More funding for scholarships – public grants from government corporations, philanthropic donations, private companies – with equal distribution among all students.
15How Might We increase options for affordable housing for students to have a positive impact on their well-being?
Proposed solution: College to build suitable buildings outside East End Toronto and provide shuttle bus to campus every 30 minutes and rent to students at affordable price.
16How Might We create more networking opportunities & activities for students for better learning & better life balance?
Proposed solution:
– Create programs, games and events to encourage social interaction, encouraging a caring fun environment.
17No How Might We statement submitted.
Proposed solutions:
– Build program/network for host families for international students.
– Free education.