Dreams & gripes

Dreams & Gripes

This is a good way to find problems and solutions with a human-centered approach.

Difficulty: 3/5


20 minutes to set up. The activity should take another 40 minutes.


Groups of 3-4 Humans

Core Competency Connection

Sketch of a dragonfly on a green gradient background
Sketch of two bees on a yellow gradient background
Sketch of chief mountain on an ammolite gradient background
Sketch of a beaver on a brown gradient background


  • Chairs (in groups of 3 or 4)
  • Sharpies
  • Sticky notes
  • Whiteboard


Set up your stations:

  • Set up each group station with a whiteboard, stickies and black sharpies

The Process

Step 1: Dreams & Gripes

  • Using sticky notes and sharpies, have participants brainstorm a list of issues they’ve observed or experienced in a learning environment they’re familiar with.

Step 2: The good, the bad, the ugly

  • Participants write one answer per sticky and to say it out loud as they place it on a board.
  • Encourage both text and drawings.
  • Participants can list each issue as either a “dream” (e.g., I wish there were more meeting places outside on campus) or a “gripe” (It annoys me that there are no outdoor workspaces on campus— only benches!).

Step 3: How Might We…?

  • Once you’ve identified the issues, choose one and change the statement into a potential design challenge by adding the words “How might we…?” to the start of the statement.
  • Using “How” indicates that you do not yet have the answer, “might” emphasizes that responses are only possible solutions, and “we” adds an element of collaboration.

Step 4: Are we clear?

  • Evaluate whether your “how might we” statement is clear and actionable.

Tips & Tricks

  • Stick to a timeline. Invite participants to form varied groups (roles and functions).
  • Encourage drawing when brainstorming issues. The facilitator keeps track of the time.

CTLI Staff

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