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Set Studio Vision


As studio leads, your job is to maximize the potential of your studio. Start by having a robust vision of DFA that fits into your university and local community. A good vision statement captures the values and goals of your studio in a short, and concise matter. Make your studio push the boundaries of creative human-centered design and integrate with the community to create long-term impact.

Output: Develop a shared vision statement of your studio that summarizes why your teams are enthusiastic about DFA & where your studio will be in the long-term (3 years).

Effective ways to set studio vision:

  1. Identify key people who can shape your studio vision.
    • Invite current leads, active members, mentors to the discussion. Look for members who could potentially become leaders in your studio!
  2. Shape your vision. DFA is all about creating local, social impact; as a group, discuss these key questions:
    • Why are we here? Get on the same page with everyone by sharing what made them join DFA in the first place.
      • Ask everyone to share their answer to “What is human-centered design?” and cluster the answers. Show answers from past years’ team leads, studio leads, and mentors to continue the vision and the spirit of your studio.     
    • How does our DFA studio fit into the local community?
      • Why would your campus and community value and support a DFA studio? Read your university’s goal and vision statement for engaging with a community. Learn the specific needs of your community and think of ways DFA could fit into the needs. What big initiatives are in your campus and community?
      • Think of the impact your studio will create in the long term. What will your DFA studio look like 3 years? Where will your members be in the long term?
    • What do we want to do? As a DFA studio, what are your vision and goals for this year?
      • Agree on size: How many projects do you think your studio can successfully finalize this year? How many teams are manageable for the studio?
      • Check your studio archives: What worked well in the past? What would you like to improve?
      • Think from your team’s perspective or bring them in for discussion: How much time can they commit and what can be accomplished within that timeframe?  
  3. Bring it all together in a short and unique vision statement.
    • Craft a statement that you can share with your members, mentors, campus administrators, and the community! This is a 40-60 second statement that captures the vision of your studio and contains an ask from the audience.
      • Incorporate your answers to the question “How does your DFA studio fit into the local community?”
    • Read your vision statement out loud with your team and iterate to fit your purposes. Document them in a video, photo, or a visual!
  4. Make the vision tangible by setting your goals into a timeline and turning it into a final pitch.
    • Check out “Set goals on a timeline” to create a timeline of tangible goals to realize your vision. Incorporate your answers to the question “What do we want to do?”
    • Check out “Paint a picture” to craft your vision and timeline into a story that both explains your studio and has a clear ask for the audience. 

Network Best Practices

Hold a Vision Quest like DFA Case|CIA

The exec team at DFA Case|CIA held a vision quest meeting at the end of the year to reflect on the year’s progress, evaluate the leadership structure, set goals for all of their studio’s activities, and set a 1 year and 4 year vision. Their 4-year goals included how many members they will recruit yearly, how many projects will reach users, and how they will have a permanent administrator integrated on campus and more. Check out their Vision Quest agenda here!

Write down your vision like DFA USC

Each year, studios that apply for the DFA network build out their vision and goals as part of the DFA application process. This shared vision helps them come together as a leadership team and build support from their university’s faculty and administration to create impactful DFA studios. USC studio identified the need of their community and how DFA would fit into the community. They also shared where they see DFA USC in early years and in 5 years. See their vision statement here!