No Running by the Pool. Sprinting Only.

Last week was all about sprinting.  From start to finish, the Hub ran hard from the get-go.  The main components of the week were a 24-hour design sprint with the Rehab team down in the Renaissance building and a Hub presentation to staff of the ideas we have come up with for the Patient Centered Room.  Thank you to the 70-80 and staff who supported us on Friday by coming down to the Hub to share over 300 pieces of individual feedback!  To learn more about the Patient Centered Room and our other projects, click here.  Also, to best be able to read this blog, click here so you can easily see all of the photos!

 A collage from the Hub's feedback collecting event on Friday

A collage from the Hub's feedback collecting event on Friday

Unfortunately, this blog really only has space to talk about the design sprint, more about the Patient Centered Room to come in the future!  

What is a 24-hour design sprint?

For those of you who don’t know about the Hub’s 24-hour design sprints, here is a brief introduction.  Given a challenge, the team will go through the entire design process within a 24-hour time frame—from basic research, to interviewing, to synthesizing, to brainstorming, to prototyping, and to collecting final feedback.  We condense the same process that we do over the course of weeks or months for other projects—Patient Gown, Breast Cancer Journey, Internal Communications, Patient Centered Room, etc...  By no means is it a small task to complete all the steps within 24-hours.  It requires 100% of focus, energy, and, most importantly, one’s willingness to jump in.  


This noon-to-noon sprint focused around Rehab’s locker rooms that connect to the pool in the Ren.  As soon as we figured out our interview guides, we jumped into going face to face with our end users.  We met some truly insightful and fascinating patrons of the pool that have been coming to Sibley multiple times a week for years.  We heard things like:

"The lockers are so difficult.  I just come in my suit, it's easier"

"It could be warmer, a lot warmer."

"The body is not as tough as it once was."

"I use the pool for therapy, the lockers are hard to use because they are too skinny and I can't get the lock on."

"Every time I find out I can continue coming to the pool, it is like a big weight is lifted off my shoulders.  This place has changed my life."


After these interviews, we returned to the Hub to share out what we had heard and to digest all of this information.  We synthesized ideas and concepts into related groups—the décor, social aspect, rules, privacy, accessibility, staff perspectives, desired amenities, etc.  With these themes in mind, we wanted to go out to the community to places that are masters at some of these themes.  Where else are people changing clothes?  Where are people having to use lockers?  Where do people have to feel comfortable while also feeling clean?  During that evening, the team split up—some to go visit places and some to do research online.

 Left: some of our groups ideas.  Right: pictures of some of the places we researched.

Left: some of our groups ideas.  Right: pictures of some of the places we researched.

Research-Who does it best?

The following morning, we all checked back in with our new information.  Collectively, we had visited or researched yoga studios, restaurants, spas, gyms, sports locker rooms, changing rooms, and other hospital pools.  These places quickly showed us other ways in which locker rooms can emote feelings of elegance, calm, and personalization.  Other changing areas showed us that a "locker" may sometimes just be a hook for your jacket or it can be a cubby large enough for an athlete to sit in.  We discovered how hard it is to find a pool as warm and large as Sibley’s.  We heard from yoga instructors about how they hold people responsible for the space.  Importantly, all of the places displayed some nifty designs and colors patterns that changed the space from a locker room to a place that you feel dignified and relaxed. 


Having just a few hours left, we started brainstorming ideas that we wanted to prototype.  We tested moving some simple amenities like snacks and drinks into the locker room.  We surveyed people about whether big, fluffy robes would be of interest.  We collected feedback about different locker styles.  We kept the place spotless and purposefully tried to show a presence in the space.  We were vulnerable with our new ideas, and we asked to see if any of them hit home.   

When we finally checked in at the end to gather all the feedback, we realized that everything seemed to interestingly fit into two distinct categories—one focusing on the short term opportunities and the other on something for the long term.  In the short term, we definitely feel like we have a sense of what people are looking for in a clean and comfortable locker room.  From hooks to taller, wider lockers, people like to store their things in different ways.  Colors should be warm, and the floor should have larger tiles to reduce the industrial feel.  We should make it feel like there is an abundance of towels and/or robes.  There should be more surfaces for people to use while changing, not just benches to sit on.  There should be a few larger and more accessible shower and changing stalls which can accommodate family members or caregivers who may be assisting.     

 Left: the team as it synthesizes ideas.  Right: our prototypes as selected through dot voting.

Left: the team as it synthesizes ideas.  Right: our prototypes as selected through dot voting.

A Bigger Picture

From these more immediate aesthetic things, we also heard a bigger story from this project.  We heard about how much this pool means to those that use it.  People use this pool not only for the much needed wellness support, but also for the friends and socializing opportunities.  People fight through snow and rain to get to these classes, because of how much they want/need them.  Passion and dedication radiated out of these pool patrons of 5 years, 8 years, or sometimes longer.       

Design sprints often end in a manner like this.  We realize that the thing we are initially designing for is really just the tip of the iceberg towards a something bigger.  In this case, we were able to learn a lot about what people wanted and needed in their locker room.  Larger than that, however, we learned about how a part of the community that we serve really thrives from having access to this very unique pool.  We saw people actually get emotional when speaking about how much it has helped improve their lives and helped them recover from injuries.  So, a possible bigger project down the road would be how to match the needs of these individuals that want more access to the pool.  That, however, is a project for another day…or maybe a few weeks.  

Andrew Yin

I hope everyone stays safe today with all of the weird weather!  Stay dry! 

Please email to share your feedback, experiences, feelings, comments, or ideas.  Also, send an email if you want to join our feedback team and are willing to be interviewed for our future projects!