Solution Design: Mindsets, Practices and Systems

I spend about 99% of my professional (and in keeping it real–personal) time grappling with creating the future of learning with a clear target of actions around doing what is best for kids. In various engagements that include everything from (re)designs to ground up builds, I get to play the role of a tour guide, leading committed teams through the navigation of change. As change is personal, it is often messy and while it sometimes presents a desire to turn back, pushing forward delivers the celebration of arrival.

Continuously learning, I am a forever student that immerses himself in practices, skills and a growing mindset of solution creation. More than ever before, I am convinced that the “answers” lie in a recipe that would be foolishly written in anything but pencil. What began with a variety of change theories, quickly expanded to a reflective journey of exploring creative motivations and “Drive.” Fast forward through a matrix clearing practices of visualization, add a dose of ADDIE and we arrive at design thinking. This recipe, that has so many other active ingredients, delivers a truth that holistic solution design is a mindset, not a framework.

My approach is and will continue to be alive, with expanded iteration upon iteration. It is a blended version of customized mapping that empathetically celebrates the community that is all in for change. It celebrates an opportunity to dream, design and deliver with a fluidity to thrive in the gray area that sits between innovation and improvement.

Looking for a starting point? Start by (self and then expand) assessing three categories: systems, practices and mindsets. With a respectful nod to Dr. John Kotter, use the findings of this reflection to fuel a genuine sense of urgency and decide if you and your partners are emotionally, intellectually and physically (it will be draining), ready to embark on the journey. To accelerate the path, let’s calibrate by defining the terms (also a critical step in preparing to start).


A set(s) of things working together—interconnecting network.

  • Unpack and examine those outside pieces of the puzzle. What can you stop, start or enhance.


Application or use of an idea, belief, or method—they are the opposite of theory.

  • Push yourself and coach your team to lean into change through a base of shared ownership that can only be found in the vulnerability of relationships.


Set of attitudes held.

  • If you determine that your current mindset needs to be “fixed,” grow it. Lean into possibility and celebrate opportunities to make excellent mistakes on a journey that will require you to fail forward.

Intrigued? I’m looking forward to unpacking all of the fumbles and stumbles in the wonderful world of solution design. If you’re ready to get it going now, reach out and lets start mapping.

For more, see:

Stay in-the-know with innovations in learning by signing up for the weekly Smart Update.

Adam Kulaas

Adam is a learning design consultant. He focuses on capacity building and is known for his work in coaching, learning design and leadership development.

Discover the latest in learning innovations

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.