Last week I had the amazing opportunity to co-design and co-produce #fuse14 at MVPS. #fuse14 is a conference that introduces educators to the DEEPdt methodology of design thinking Developed by Mary Cantwell (@SciTechyEDU). Mary is also the founder of dtk12chat, an ongoing twitter conversation about design thinking in education, where I am a moderator as well.

One of the themes participants and coaches took away this year centered around failure. fuse14 had two tracks where some participants were asked to design solutions to make learning more student centered, while others brought teams to work on big-problems they brought with them. In order to move faster DEEPdt encourages designers to take risks, be vulnerable, and adopt a failup mindset that views failure as inherent to learning.

This question was brought up at the #dtk12chat MODA Live Show:

“How do you get students and parents to buy into the failup mentality?”

Failup is a norm at our school that calls our students to risk to learn rather than fear failure. The problems that face our world are massive and daunting. Fear of failure can be a paralyzing force that can inhibit our will to innovate something that can transform our world.

So how do you create a culture that empowers innovators? By create a safe space for failure. At Nike, as told in Ben Shaffer’s 99U talk, they have a space and team known as the Innovation Kitchen that points to places to start.

1. Make Diverse Teams United Around Innovation – Diversity naturally creates a team that must start with questions. Having a variety of interests, passion, strengths, and expertise in the room requires a team to wrestle with what they don’t know. Mashing up content teachers into content diverse teams rallied behind grade level essential questions (EX: Who am I in a digital world? What is “freedom”?) changes the direction for success while also modeling that expertise is not the sole requirement of innovative teams.

2. Create Learning Spaces Like Greenhouses Not Farming Fields – Incubation, rapid prototyping, testing, and feedback are essential components that scale creative confidence in learning. Failup mindsets call for risks that are taken in steps to learn from the result, pivot if needed, and iterate towards shipping an idea. Schools that foster innovation leave space for failure to as a method of deeper learning.

3. Foster A Culture Of Proper Optimism – Shaffer points out that their team adopts a perspective of “proper optimism” when risk results to failure. What if schools viewed the “F” as an opportunity rather than a label? What if an F is the beginning of a conversation rather then the end?

4. Make Solutions Dependent On User-Centered Design – When your innovation makes a difference it becomes personal to the design. When the Innovation Kitchen designs a shoe that helps a specific athlete win at the Olympics, the innovation process is ratcheted to another level. We choose to #failup because the world is worth it. People matter and if students can engage the world with a people-centered mindset they will find new meaning in learning.

Watch Ben Shaffer’s talk from 99U here: