Jiang China Design
Top 5 Skills Improved
What's Jiang China Design
Jiang China Design (JCD) is a design community for college students to learn about human-centered design process and create meaningful social impact by working on real-life community projects. JCD Human-Centered Design Challenge is a two week design bootcamp for college students across all disciplines. Founded in 2015, it took place in Beijing and Hangzhou in the past three years, and has graduated over 100 students, and gathered over 500 design professionals and enthusiasts.
I am the founder of Jiang China Design initiative. It's quite an eventful journey with many challenges and enlightenments along the way, though the initial drive to found JCD was quite simple. In college, I was fascinated by the story of Jerry the Bear at a student design organization called Design for America. Jerry is a diabetic toy bear and its blood pressure can be controlled by feeding him food and taking insulin shots at proper times, and thus help children with diabetes to learn to take care of themselves while having a close friend. This great idea was generated through a vigorous human-centered design process with rich user research and many rounds of quick iterations. It changed how I view design and the power of impact design could bring, and I felt the strong need to work on challenges in the communities I'm from through my own hands via this process. I asked myself, what if I can scope out challenges in the city of Hangzhou, China, and find some friends to tackle those challenges together? That's the initial idea of JCD, and it later transformed into an educational program that involve students of diverse background from all over the world to work together on design challenges.
From Idea to Action
To move the idea of a summer bootcamp forward, I started sketching what are the required to make it happen. We needed projects and students, and we also need teachers who can guide us through the design process. A space is also necessary for students to brainstorm, prototype and collaborate. This logic seems quite straightforward.
However, as I started thinking about ways to get projects, students, space and teachers, more requirements came up. For example, finance started to come into play as there was cost associated with teachers and space. Without the teacher list it's hard to recruit students, and without students, no one will be paying for the program and thus there's no budget for anything! Similarly, if we are financing through sponsorship, lack of teachers and students would make the program unappealing to sponsors, and without sponsorship we lack the assurance of being able to pay for flights, space and operational costs. This experiment is full of dependency and uncertainties, and I realized two things: a team is needed, and we need to make some assumptions and quickly test them, like an interactive design process, because there's not enough information showing us what's the right way to do this.
Luckily we are able to quickly form a core team of people working on marketing, sponsor relations, programming, human resource and operations. We consulted with professors at Northwestern University Segal Design Institute, did a landing page as well as Wechat post to test the water. Surprisingly, we gauged a huge amount of interest! With a validated concept, we worked full speed to bring it to life. First year JCD was held in China Academy of Art in Hangzhou in summer of 2015, and by the time we hosted it, we've had over 50 volunteers working in 5 different timezones, and over 10 sponsor and partners helping to make it happen.
Project scoping is both fun and challenging. We follow Design for America's project scoping wheel when sourcing design challenges so that the projects are daring, feasible and applicable. We host online brainstorming sessions with people from various industries on the issues they care about in their communities and then synthesize those projects based on the prompts on the wheel. We also formed a project scoping committee conducting deeper investigation of selected topics to identify potential client sources, and set up relationship and project objectives with these clients.
Every year we came up with a theme and 6 different projects for 36 students.
2015 theme: Mobility for All Abilities (Hangzhou)
2016 theme: A City without Strangers (Beijing)
2017 theme: Designing for Future (Hangzhou)
Check out what it looks like in the JCD bootcamp (apologies for no English subtitle)
Launched JCD successfully from in summers of 2015 to 2017 as well as JCD reunions in 2018
Led an international team of over 50 people team in Marketing, Operations, Sponsor Relations, Finance, Programing, Project Scoping, and Human Resources from the US, China and Europe.
Raised over 150K funding from NGOs, Northwestern University, China Academy of Art, a HTML5 startup and many more
Recruted 30+ professors, design professionals and student design mentors as faculty
Collaborated with design faulty on designing the day to day program and activities
Scoped project and themes
Hosted the bootcamp, facilitated and mentored student projects
I learned about how to start something from scratch. It has to be an idea you are passionate about, and you are willing to iterate on. Passion keeps it going, and the willingness to iterate and change based on feedback allow products to improve and grow. Testing as quickly as possible to get validate the concept is vital, so does having a great team. This is no different than developing products.
I was able to experience design project facilitating. I was used to being a student and struggling when making design decisions without enough information, but now I'm on the other side, observing how design teams work, supporting students when they need help and when they get stuck. I also realized that I need more product development experience in the industry to give more concrete advises , which is one of the major reason of me going to the industry after graduation to practice product development.
JCD design challenge is made possible because of tight international collaboration, which is super hard with staff in 5 timezones. When texting or having Skype meetings, you don't know how the other people feel. I learned that it's important to create a sense of belong for international teammates so that people are accountable, and having more frequent check-ins, having a team lead and someone dedicated to check on everyone's feelings, talking about personal life, and doing online games together can help bringing people closer.
Sample JCD Portfolio
JCD and its students have worked on 18 design challenges in the past three years. Check out some sample projects below!