social movements + innovation lab


Prototype Lab

The Prototype Lab was a six-month virtual course beginning in November 2019 that culminated in a final virtual convening in July 2020. The lab consisted of monthly in-person team meetings, online webinars, and coaching support.

Working as individuals or in teams, participants tested one or more ideas related to one of two themes:

• Tackling white-dominant culture in social justice organizations

• Reimagining sustainable and inclusive leadership and organizations

The Prototype Lab participants had the opportunity to:

• Create a simple, yet realistic, prototype of an idea

• Discover new tools to carry an idea through the design, test and implementation phase  

• Pressure test an idea, gather feedback and reflect with curiosity in order to strengthen a prototype or pilot

• Receive individualized coaching to refine a prototype and develop new iterations

• Gain support from a growing community of social justice leaders learning and practicing innovation together

The Prototype Lab was action oriented, designed to move participants from thinking to making and building. By the end of the Lab, the goal was for participants to have completed one cycle of creating a prototype, testing it, and refining it.

The Prototype Lab served a long-term purpose – to change the way that social movement leaders approach new and difficult problems. Recognizing that the muscle of innovation only develops through experimentation and practice, the Prototype Lab was designed to accompany leaders through the process of innovation so they would build the adaptive skills (e.g., practicing risk-taking, normalizing failure, active listening) and innovation mindsets (e.g., curiosity, vulnerability, resilience) they would need to tackle future problems. In particular, the lab emphasized the skill of giving and receiving feedback as the most important part of the prototyping process, and the mindset of bias to action as the key behavior that participants needed to practice.

The Prototype Lab sought to provide the support that innovators need to grow and develop ideas in the form of a community of practice for social justice leaders learning and experimenting together.

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