As a was a member of Scout Labs, over one semester our team worked with a local non profit to improve their organization through design thinking.
Scout Labs is a team within Scout. The Labs team is a multi-disciplinary team of students who believe in the power of design for social change. Through the human-centered design thinking process, our team collaborated with a non-profit partner organization in Boston to define a problem, understand the people affected by it, brainstorm solutions, prototype solutions, and test with users to make the prototype more effective. The process is about empathizing with users, embracing the unknown, experimentation, and collaborating as a team to make something that matters!
YES is an incredible organization that helps students become leaders. I was excited to help them grow as an organization and enhance the experiences at YES were already in place. As one of the only trained designed designers on the team I contributed heavily to the visual deliverables throughout the project, I also shared a lot of my knowledge from my experience design class with my team - leading working session for spheres of influence, brainstorming and personas. I shared a lot of my experiences in design while also learning a lot from my team!
The first part to really attacking a design problem is understand what the question is that we’re trying to answer, what impact might look like, what the context behind the project is, and who are we building for. At moments of ambiguity, this exercise allows the team to focus and come back to the core reasons that define our work. Framing our design statement is more of an art than a science, and the goal is to get our team and our partner on the same page. We did this by all sitting together, communicating out ideas and writing them down on post it notes as shown on the right.
How might we help YES maximize the impact of their Leadership Corps Program by becoming more consistant, equitable and engaging?
Qualitative research interviews are a tool to help see the design statement, its motivation, and its implications through the eyes of the people for whom we are designing for. Our main goal is to give the interviewee space to tell us about their role, how they define the rewards and challenges within their role, and how they approach their work with the Youth Leadership Corps, in general. The attitude is conversational and oriented toward going deeper into the interviewee’s description of their own experiences.
Developing the spheres of influence is an exploratory exercise meant to visually depict a stakeholder’s role within a system. There are three main stakeholder spheres that organize their interactions with different objects, other people, and outside forces. The exercise is made to be flexible and to generate ideas; there are multiple useful ways to depict the same person’s role using these spheres. Level 1: Artifacts that are controlled by the given stakeholder. Level 2: Factors within the system, but outside of the stakeholder’s control that affect their behaviors, interactions with artifacts, and experience within the system. Level 3: Factors external to the system that affect Sphere 2.
Constructing personas is an important step in understanding who you are designing for. We created two personas, Adam and Sue, to represent composites of our key stakeholders: Program Coordinators. When creating Adam and Sue, we pulled their characteristics from interviews that we conducted with the staff. While going through the prototyping stage, it is important to design for these personas to ensure that the prototypes will fit the needs of all of our stakeholders rather than one specific person.
Adam has only been at YES for about a year but he feels very comfortable. Adam feels that a huge part of his job is to be a supportive outlet for the teens and to be seen as a mentor. Adam’s main goal is to help students enjoy themselves and take advantage of the programing.
Susan oversees teen programming. Susan thinks YES needs to emphasize youth development more than than the physical activities. She feels that it is difficult to get parents and students to engage with the social media content. Susan wants to emphasize youth development programming in YES.
How do our key stakeholders move throughout their organization and who do they interact with? Creating this journey map with key stakeholders allows the team to visualize and communicate the types of interactions that occur in the organization and when they occur in daily work. It also allows the team to pinpoint where in the journey we may be able to create solutions around our design statement.
The goal of these prototypes was to create more integrated technical systems to allow for the automation of internal tasks. The Program Coordinators create wonderful events, but there hasn’t been too many ways to automate and move data from systems to system to have tasks be completed without human intervention. We looked to create an integrated attendance sign-up process that allows for the automation of additional tasks; this ended with the creation of a dashboard that would be updated and text-message automated marketing.
We built a Trello board that houses a list of event planning resources along with a checklist and suggested timeline that walk through all the steps of planning a new event. The first card stack when you open the Trello board contains all of the resources and tools in individual cards, including a resource that explains how to use the prototype. The next two card stacks are the templates, with different suggested timelines (one for long-term planning and one for short-term planning). The templates can be copied and then renamed when a new event is being planned, so the details can be written on the cards directly. The most recent event will be left on the board for reference, but all the older events should be archived to reduce clutter. YES employees can be assigned to specific cards along with due dates that can integrate into their Outlook calendars.
Zapier was integrated to move around data and enable the text messaging will rely on Zapier, an online service that markets itself as “the glue that connects more than 1,000 web apps.” Using it, we are able to create a few automated workflows within YES’ internal systems. We used Zapier to connect three systems - Formsite, Google Sheets, and Twillio. Formsite is the form - service that YES uses to have people sign-up to attend events. Twillio is a communications API platform that can automate things like text messages and phone calls. We used Google Sheets as a place to store the data and create a dashboard.
This project was made in collaboration with Tia Thomson, Ava Nordling, Aidan Flynn, Jocelyn Zhu and Nathan Hostert.
Overall, program staff expressed excitement about how they could Zapier to automate tasks and communicate with the Youth Leadership Corps over text! Feedback included some concerns around making sure one person was responsible for building out the workfl ows and had the necessary skills and familiarity with the system to do so. Beyond that, there were additional concerns about the price of these systems and whether the team could aff ord to use them in the intended way.
This project was made in collaboration with Mina Iskarous, Sam Haas, Silvia Diaz, Dilara Sisman and