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Review Project Scope with a Mentor

How can we get feedback on the starting scope on our project to ensure we can hit our goals within our timeline?


As you wrap up your scoping process, it’s helpful to get feedback from a mentor to get direction at the beginning of the project. Projects that have not been scoped well often face roadblocks during the term for spending too much time narrowing down on their scope, not having a focused user group, or trying to solve everything! Having a well-scoped project is the very first step to achieving success in your project and involving your mentors in this process will aid you tremendously.

Effective ways to do this include:

  1. Download the Identify 1-pager to help you prepare for your meeting.
    • Identify mutual interest between the mentor and team in the project topic.
    • Make sure your mentor is familiar with DFA and the design process. If not, come prepared with materials to explain the process.
  2. Check your challenge - What makes a good DFA project?
    • Focus on a social challenge
      • Is it Daring? Feasible? Applicable?
      • Review the DFA scoping wheel and answer the questions to ensure you are focusing on a social issue!
    • Outline clear outcomes
        • Outcomes can vary based on the type and timing of the project but all DFA projects should have insights based on user research, new ideas to solve the reframed problem, prototypes that have been tested with users, and design recommendations to move the problem forward.
    • Work with accessible local users, stakeholders, and mentor groups
      • Finding local organizations and experts working in the challenge area will build the support system around the project, ensuring learnings and outcomes.
  3. Schedule and hold a meeting with your mentor and follow this agenda: 
    • Preliminary research on your topic will help you be prepared for your meeting.
    • Set clear expectations with your mentor on what deliverables you will have.
    • Define next steps as a team and meet with.
  4. Update your project scope based on mentor feedback.

Network Best Practices

Schedule meetings with your mentor like DFA Stanford

Many studios meet with their mentors at the beginning of the term to discuss potential projects. Faculty advisors can help with identifying good challenge topics, suggesting partners and mentors who could help teams, and setting expectations for team and partner interaction through the quarter.

DFA Rice meets with their faculty advisor Dr. Matthew Wettergreen, DFA Yale with advisor Dr. Joe Zinter, DFA Vanderbilt with mentor Dr. David Owens, DFA Stanford with mentor Erin Liman, and many more!

Below is the DFA Stanford leadership team meeting with Erin Liman.

Use the Identify One-Pager

DFA National created process guide one-pagers, or simple sheets outlining the basics of the DFA process steps to reference when needed and to jumpstart team conversation and action. Use the “Identify” One-Pager to check your challenge with a mentor!

  • How is the issue you are tackling Daring, Feasible, and Applicable?
  • What are the facts, assumptions, and problem space you can identify about the larger problem?
  • What local organizations and mentors can you work with to tackle this challenge? 
  • What are 4-5 initial How Can We’s that will help focus research in your problem space?
  • What will the team have at the end of the process?

See how we took FruitBuddi, a DFA Northwestern project in 2013, through these questions:

Use the DFA Scoping Wheel

In combination with the One-Pager your team should use the DFA scoping wheel. The scoping wheel identifies three common characteristics that all DFA projects must have - DFA projects are Daring, Feasible and Applicable. These characteristics ensure that team challenges align with DFA’s social focus, are ones that teams have the ability to influence, and which, if solved, could have significant impact.

Read more about project scoping here.