Throughout this quarter our team, Campaign Headquarters, learned a great deal about business and society, as well as about ourselves as individuals and how we function as members of a team. We started the quarter not knowing one another, however through the various tasks we tackled to complete our project we came together to work cohesively as a unit. In the beginning, the hardest part was identifying each others strengths and weaknesses for working in a group. Through the various phases of the project we came to learn about ourselves and each other so that we were able to become the most efficient team possible.
As a team we functioned without much conflict due to our strong communication skills. From the beginning of the project we decided as a group that communication would be a major key to our success as a team. From there we began talking through the sections, discussing who would be best suited to do each part. We quickly identified both Nick and Teresa’s strong capabilities with visual design, Nick excelling in Visio to help create the systems map and Teresa ultimately designing our prototype with the help of her experience as a yearbook editor. Jake was a constant positive and motivating presence and was always willing to put the finishing touches on pieces of the project. Katie was very helpful in keeping the group on task and helping tie together written portions so that the voice was cohesive. The biggest struggle we faced as a team was definitely finding time to get together to work on the project and share our findings and ideas; with our strong communication though this was a limited issue.
Most of what we learned this quarter came directly from the project. From learning about our specific issue to learning about how businesses function as a part of society, there have been many important takeaways gained through this project. The lecture series that brought in outside professionals to discuss business and society were a component to the course that added a great deal of depth. Of the lectures, one that our group found most pertinent was the panel discussion with the speakers from Vail Resorts, Cafe 180, and BIT. From this panel we started to gain a true understanding of the different paths we could take to create public good through business solutions. Our team realized from this that our solution would best fit the partnership model because we needed a way to draw visitors and create a user base.
Many of the tools that we gained during this class proved to be useful in designing our solution. Stakeholder interviews proved to be the most surprisingly useful tool. Initially, we did not expect the stakeholder interviews to provide many insights that would guide our final solution. However, many of our stakeholders provided information that drastically changed the direction of our project. For example, John Holcomb, a lawyer and professor at the University of Denver reminded us of the issues that the disengaged nature of the voting population presents. Without this insight we would have never included a requirement that the solution provides some form of value that draws users in on their own volition. This ultimately became a significant part of our final solution design as it further guided us to aim to utilize a partnership.
Another tool that proved useful was systems analysis and creating a systems map. American politics are a complex and complicated topic, and campaign finance was no different. Conducting a systems analysis and then creating a systems map proved to be useful. This process helped us to gain a better understanding of the intricate relationships and interactions that govern how campaign finances work. Ultimately, this project even greatly improved our understanding of campaign finances in general.
One thing that our group learned a great deal about in the course was the inner workings of election campaigns as well as our government in general. Our group focused on how to fix the issue of big money in politics and with that we learned all about campaign funding through required money that it takes to even get a campaign off the ground. We also did a lot of research on how dark money affects politics and how little regulation there is within dark money in the system. Another part of our research was learning about how Americans vote and receive their information on candidates in the 21st century. We got great insight on percentages of millennials that vote as well as how educated they are on our political process (with the statistic being that 50% of eligible millennial voters actually vote, and only 1 in 3 Americans can name the three branches of the government, which can be found in our “Materials for the Judges” tab). We learned that before teaching the public on political candidates and their running arguments that we need to teach them how our government is structured first and how these elections are run from top to bottom.
Overall, we found this experience to be very rewarding for our time at DU. This course has given us the opportunity to work in a diverse group of people and focus on a social issue that we would likely not have the chance to work on within our own individual majors. The experience has provided us with a real-world insight into how difficult the process can be to attempt to solve a social issue and all of the intricate pieces that fall into creating a solution, but we also saw how rewarding it can be when the solutions have been accomplished from the panelist discussion we had. We found this course to be imperative to our learning experience at DU, and we are glad we had the opportunity to take this course and work together so that we could learn from each other as well.