Human Centered Design - Project Management
Scout Labs is an interdisciplinary team of Northeastern students who believe in the power of design for social change. Through the human-centered design thinking process, our team collaborates with non-profit partner organizations in Boston to define a problem, understand the people affected by it, brainstorm solutions, prototype solutions, and test with the users to make the prototype more effective. In the Spring of 2019 Labs has the pleasure of working with GIFT (Gaining Independence for Tomorrow) an organization that provides intensive life coaching to victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
As the Project Lead for the project I participated and lead every stage from brainstorming to prototyping. I created the project roadmap with the Scout Labs Director and was the lead in making design decisions as the project progressed. I also reviewed and approved work as it was created and was the head of communication with our client, GIFT.
GIFT came to Scout Labs with the understanding that their organization is growing. As they grow, they are beginning to develop an alumni network. GIFT wants to know how they can create a consistent and welcoming place for alumni. We began our discovery process by participating in the "Frame the Design Challenge" (IDEO). This challenge opened our minds to the problem we are trying to solve, our intended impact, and possible problems we might find.
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’re designing. Our main goal for these interviews is to discover more information about GIFT and its internal operations. The tone of the interview was relaxed and conversational. Our goal was to get to know GIFT as well as dig deep for more information.
In order to better understand how we could best assist GIFT and attempt to put ourselves in the shoes of all stakeholders, we drafted two key user personas. One for GIFT management which we named Melanie, and one for the life coaches which we named Naomi. Each persona is broken down first into four key sensing areas - what they think and feel, say and do, hear, and see. From there, we drafted up their goals and their pain points.
With our user personas completed, we next moved into a journey map. A journey map is tracking of emotions over the course of user experience. Our user journey starts with management hiring a life coach. This starts with onboarding and administrative work, goes into training and pairing, and ends with introducing the life coach to the GIFT community. From there, a life coach is assigned cases. The life coach will begin to build relationships with the youth at this point and try to navigate what needs to be done and how best to serve the youth. A life coach may receive an emergency phone call from the girl, a low point in the emotional journey of the coach. Finally, youth will leave the program due to aging out or the case is closed and their journey with GIFT formally ends.
After several brainstorming sessions, we needed to narrow down the ideas into categories. Breaking the large pile of ideas into groups helped us identify the core issues that GIFT is dealing with. Using sticky notes we put the ideas into piles and then named the pile with its overarching categories.
The Scout Labs and GIFT team voted on an alumni exit package as a way to resolve issues of communication through the creation of a physical package to collect and keep track of information about their youth that are graduating from the program. This package would also act as a GIFT resource, providing opportunities for the organization to not only learn more about their youth, their future plans, and their thoughts on GIFT, as well as a resource for alumni, to better understand what opportunities and resources are offered to them when they leave GIFT. This resource will keep both the alumni and staff involved in maintaining connections and life long partnerships with GIFT.
Scout Labs will help with customizing their current database with Salesforce. This will create an easy-to-access channel of information about youth and alumni that staff members can rely on. Work will mostly focus on reorganization and grouping into key specific stakeholders - alumni, management, life coaches, on-call, etcetera. Key things to include will be phone numbers, current address, social media handles, guardianship, legal and physical custody status, CSEC risk level, and a photo. With this customization, emergency information will never get lost and will also help in future contact with alumni.
Working with a non-profit was an eye-opening experience for me and the entire team. In the end, we had difficulty implementing sustainable prototypes with the many moving parts within GIFT. I learned many skills surrounding communication, strategic planning, research, and designing for social impact. I am extremely thankful for this experience and my team: Mina Iskarous, Katie Kim, Cat Zhang, Aarti Amalean, Will Lake, and Anahita Mojahed