Working on the Cornell Body Positive Project was a great challenge for a multitude of reasons. We were challenged to work cohesively as a team to deliver useful recommendations to suit the needs of Body Positive Cornell which required a lot of harmony as a team, research, creativity, and emotional intelligence. I appreciated that the MannUFactory staff, Camille, helped us identify a process to approach our work with BPC: the Design Thinking method.
The Design Thinking method encourages several key steps in creating a solution to meet someone or a group's needs:
1. Empathize with the end-user to understand their needs, pain points, desires. We performed this first step in our initial meeting with BPC members and our class where we spent a session asking detailed questions about their key pain points, aspirations, and goals for the organization. What we learned was that Body Positive Cornell struggles to retain committed members, attract diverse membership, and identify sustainable funding sources.
2. Define the problem. In this case, we defined BPC's problem statement to be their need to help the body positive movement reach diverse spaces on campus and engage with those spaces. They specifically wanted to de-mystify misconceptions about the body positive movement and reach new spaces on campus to engage greater membership.
3. Ideate solutions, anything under the sun! After empathizing with the Body Positive Cornell members and evaluating their needs and goals, my team and I brainstormed a lot of potential solutions while at the MannUFactory. We sketched potential ideas for movie nights, group sessions, fashion shows, and more ideas that we thought would engage students with the body positive movement.
4. Next we protoyped the solutions at a small scale. Some of our prototypes, like the pipe-cleaner model in a BPC fashion show and the recreation of a movie night on the slope, were fun to create and sparked our imagination. The most useful prototpyes we created, however were the stickers that we wanted to recommend BPC to promote around campus.
5. Testing the prototype. This is an area that I wish we had spent more time and energy, because we did not do enough testing before recommending BPC to use the stickers. While we know that stickers are frequently used across campus to promote various organizations and movements, we could not confidently recommend that they would definitely be successful at engaging new students in Body Positive Cornell or actuall help retain their members. An improvement I would like to make if I were doing this project again would be to meet individually with BPC members to get their input on the prototypes and ask which they have already tested and what they think might be most useful. We also could have asked them where they think it is best for us to test the prototype and clarify what the goals of the test would be.
In general, working for a client, especially a client with a social mission truly motivated me to want to produce useful recommendations. Seeing how invested they were in the organizatino and its vision is inspiring and admirable. I genuinely wanted them to succeed as an organization and hope they take some of the recommendations we provided to them.
In particular I hope they make great use of MannUFactory because it is a great resource on campus for testing new ideas. Whether if they need to make buttons for an event to test the receptivity of a new inclusive promotional design or if they want to create a 3D printed statue of what BPC means to them, the MannUFactory is a great space to create items for their organization and is quite affordable. At a large scale, I would encourage them to use another company that specializes in making promotional material if that is something they would like to pursue in the future.
Furhtermore, I would really want BPC to take advantage of all of the available funding sources on campus. In order for them to do that best, they would have to become an organization under SAFC. While this might mean they lose some of their affiliation and financial support from Cornell Health (which it doesn't have to because departments on campus can donate to student organizations), it would give them access to more consistent funding and force them to plan ahead for their semester's events. SAFC requires you to submit your budget for that semester at least the semester before, which could give BPC the structure needed to coordinate events ahead of time that they would like to commit to.
If I could do the entire project over again, I would definitely have liked to spend more time with the BPC staff and understanding the nuances of their goals, aspirations, and details of their challenges.
I would like to better understand the financial structure of how BPC is funded and perhaps do more research on this.
I would do more resaearch on all of the initiatives BPC has tried and analyzed their successes and areas for improvement
I would have liked to survey groups on campus to get an idea of what the general perception of BPC and the body positive movement is to better inform our prototype. For this project, we were mostly informed by our classmates perceptions.
Questions I would have liked to ask BPC:
What is the process like to get funding for your organization?
Who do you have to reach out to to get funding?
Do you have to create any proposals when getting funding?
What has your experiene been like with co-sponsoring events with organizations in the past? Has it been successful? What were some of the challenges?
Who are some of the campus leaders who might champion for you? How might you leverage them to help reach the organization's goals?
What have been your most successful events and activities so far?