Scout Labs x YES
Over one semester our team worked with a local non profit to improve their organization through design thinking.
YES provides affordable and impactful sports-based youth development and leadership programming for Boston children and teens. They felt like they weren't reaching their target group of teens who were joining their leadership program. We volunteered to look at the organization as a whole and see where improvements could be made.
Scout Labs collaborated with a non-profit partner organization in Boston to use human-centered design thinking to define the problem, understand those affected by it, prototype and test solutions, and prepare deliverables for hand-off.
As one of the only two trained designers on the team I contributed heavily to the visual deliverables throughout the semester. The whole team was involved in experience design workshops, client research interviews, and everything else that our small interdisciplinary team needed to get done.
After our first meeting with the Director of Impact, our main contact, at YES, we needed to rework our design statement. As a team we brainstorm what the question we needed to answer actually was, what impact might look like, what the context behind the project is, and who are we building for. The goal of redefining our design statement was to get our team and our partner on the same page so we could maximize our impact. We did this by all sitting together, communicating ideas and writing them down on post it notes, then discussing why we wrote certain things as a group.
Research & Discovery
Spheres of Influence
Spheres of influence visually depict stakeholders’ roles within a system. There are three main stakeholder spheres that organize their interactions with different objects, other people, and outside forces. This exercise is made to be flexible and to generate ideas during the research and discovery phase of a project. Each sphere is a different level of influence. Level 1 includes artifacts that are controlled by the given stakeholder, level 2 includes factors within the system, but outside of the stakeholder’s control that affect their behaviors, interactions with artifacts, and experience within the system, and level 3 includes factors external to the system that affect sphere 2.
Qualitative research interviews are helped us see through the eyes of the people we were designing for. Our main goal was 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. The attitude is conversational and oriented toward going deeper into the interviewee’s description of their own experiences.
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 and not just one specific person.
Our team wanted more insight as to how do our key stakeholders move throughout their organization and who they interact with? We created this journey map with key stakeholders so the team could more easily visualize and communicate the types of interactions that occur in the organization and when they occur in daily work. It also allowed the team to pinpoint where in the journey we may be able to create solutions around our design statement.
Final Design Statement
After our deep research phase, our team worked with the Program Coordinators to understand that they would benefit from the implementation of certain processes and systems to support their work. Their day-to-day life at YES is so busy that having a team focus on solutions to support them seemed to be their primary necessity. There did not to be one individual issue, such as their marketing as the Director of Impact originally thought, but they needed overall improvement in certain processes and systems their employees used throughout the day.
Event Planning Checklist
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 in 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. This prototype would lessen the need for repetitive communication, such as emailing someone for specific resources, and makes company knowledge more generally known and available.
Zapier was integrated to move around data and enable text messaging to 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 Twilio. Formsite is the form - service that YES uses to have people sign-up to attend events. Twilio 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.
Event Planning Checklist
YES Academy staff read through a guide on how to use the Trello and then tested the Trello board without any other guidance. This allowed us to gauge the comprehensibility and usability of the document. Then, the Youth Leadership Manager was given the board and tasked with using it for planning a college visit that would happen the following week. After reading the document, she was able to copy the board and start editing all the individual cards. After the quick run-through, the Youth Leadership Manager provided positive feedback and indicated that the board would be very helpful, especially if it integrated with internal Outlook calendars. The integration of the two was stressed by other staff as well. We also received feedback that some cards could be combined to streamline the process, while others needed more thorough descriptions.
The testing for this piece was focused on teaching the YES team about Zapier, how it works, and the different ways it could be implemented. There was a demonstration of the automated text messaging during our feedback session. 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 workflows 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 afford to use them in the intended way.
We handed off our two prototypes to YES after making some last iterations using the insights we gained from our user testing session with the employees who would actually be using our deliverables. I learned what is like to work on a team with students of all different interests and talents and how those differences made us more capable to solve really broad and challenging problems. I also learned the importance of design in the Boston Community and my passion for the research heavy early stages of the design-process.
Research & Discovery Report
This was the Research & Discovery Report we handed off to YES. Feel free to flip through it!