Getting our SENSES together

January 28, 2021

Solutions brainstorm

Being part of a completely new team, adopting a brand-new concept into an organization with staff members who are used to working in a certain manner, has been a challenge in itself. In addition, adding the impact of COVID-19 to their daily interactions, means there has been a large number of virtual as opposed to in person dialogues. With the RR encouraging the Accelerator Lab to use the proposed internal challenge (see first blog) as an opportunity to, not only get to know the colleagues, but also understand the environment and the different dynamics that already exist, the Accelerator Lab team got to work! Setting off equipped only with the perceived internal challenges that needed special attention and the tools they had gained from the bootcamp.  

Methodology: For the PEOPLE by the PEOPLE 

First and foremost, the team understood that they had to choose a methodology in order to make sure they were getting the right information to dissect this perceived limitation at the Country Office (CO). The team explored the Accelerator Lab Cycle (ALC), Human Center Design (HCD) and Design Thinking (DT) as approaches which could support them in reaching a resolution for the challenges faced. After careful deliberation and research, the team went ahead with a mixture of DT and the ALC, as it allowed for the approach to be human centered, but also creating room for piloting, testing and growing as a continuous process.  

Stage 1: Emphasize (DT) & Sense (ALC) 

The aim of the first stage of the process was to create a questionnaire for the colleagues, who were participating, to understand what was happening, and whether there were in fact any tensions. The questions were a mixture of qualitative and quantitative, to allow the colleagues to express their ideas in an unbiased manner that went beyond what the challenge was perceived to be. Furthermore, the team wanted the questions to be open enough to allow room for any other comments or sentiments the colleagues had, that could also be included and explored further. Once the 24 questions were finalized, the Accelerator Lab, conducted a small sample to see how the questions were received and if they were succinct, before rolling them out to the remainder of the colleagues. Each survey took on average 30 minutes and colleagues were encouraged to propose solutions to their perceived limitations, but also discuss ways in which these limitations have been dealt with in the past and why they did not work. This created room for dialogue and widened the perspectives the Accelerator Lab had when it came the working styles, work environment and daily interactions between colleagues. The identity of all the participating colleagues was anonymous.  

Stage 2: Define (DT) & Explore (ALC) 

Once all the data was collated the Accelerator Lab had enough information to begin to define and explore what and if there were indeed existing tensions in the CO. The team sat in a room and reviewed what was said and what was colleague’s overall sentiment during the surveys. Once this information was collated, using post-it notes all over the walls, the team began to create subgroups for re-emerging themes. The subgroups which stood out the most were need for social space, improvement of working conditions and change in strategy for communications. These new insights demonstrated a sentiment which was not encompassed in the perceived challenge, but rather emerging limitations that became apparent only due to the dialogue with colleagues. The Lab went back to re-define the perceived challenges as well as the new emerged challenges into “How might we-questions”. A “How might we-question” is based directly on an insight and is open enough to leave room for input, exploration and testing. 

Stage 3: Ideate (DT) 

Once all the information was received and digested by the team, the next steps were to begin to map out two things that came from the interviews:  

1) what solutions had already been tried by the CO and why they did not work?   

2) what solutions do colleagues suggest in order to improve the synergies in the CO? 

The former would inform the team on what path not to retake due to its lack of success in the past, whereas the latter would inform the ideation stage by including the end user (UNDP colleagues) in the solution developing stage. An overwhelming number of colleagues came through with similar solutions, whereas others came up with solutions that, although good, would not be feasible to prototype and test for the Accelerator Lab. Additionally, during this ideation stage, the Accelerator Lab also brainstormed solutions that could potentially work based on their own experience as staff, but also solutions that emerged from combining different thoughts suggested by colleagues during the Define (DT) & Explore (ALC) stage.  

Stage 4 & 5: Prototype and Test (DT) Test (ALC) 

The next steps for the Accelerator Lab now are to carefully look at the solutions provided by colleagues, brainstorm solutions based on what was said during the interviews and come up with ways in which they can begin prototyping in the CO in direct relation to the limitations encountered. When presenting the findings to the RR, interesting conversations emerged which made the team question the direction the prototyping could take to create a sustainable solution, but also one that includes colleagues in the process as much as possible.   

Winding UP

The GW Accelerator Lab team is very excited for the next steps of the cycle, which involve refining and testing out solutions informed by invaluable knowledge provided by the colleagues at UNDP Guinea-Bissau. This is therefore not a wind-down, but rather a winding UP to begin the nitty-gritty part of the DT and ALC approaches. Being able to create a prototype, test, and go back to the drawing board, is something the team is looking forward to because although the team surveyed a representative sample of colleagues, there will still be input from those who did not contribute once they see the initial pilots. In the meantime, the GW Accelerator Lab team will be displaying the results of their findings as an exhibition by the entrance of the building to get colleagues talking and adding other suggestions via a suggestion box.  

Design Thinking Process